Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Score
PG-13 for strong thematic material including the rape of a child, violence, and brief strong language
December 14, 2007
Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Taub, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, Homayoun Ershadi, Nabi Tanha, Elham Ehsas
Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball )
David Benioff (wrote screenplay for Troy),
bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini
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The Kite Runner
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
- Since it’s publication in 2003, the New York Times bestseller The Kite Runner has garnered Afghani physician/novelist (yes, this man used to get up at 4 a.m. before his internist job to write!) Khaled Hosseini much success.
Now this epic journey has been captured on the big screen, and Hosseini himself has a cameo as a doctor in the park. Not bad for a first novel, eh?
At a Glance
When I first heard about the film, I had not read the novel version. I made the mistake of believing that this film was about two young, Middle Eastern boys who loved to fly kites.
True, the kites do take up screen time. They are essential as a clever plot device and symbolize better days for these two young men, days when pure innocence and freedom ruled.
In the end, though, the story isn't really about kite flying. It's about secret shame and personal redemption, of sin and atonement, as it follows the lives of two best friends and champion kite runners, Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and Hassan, the son of a poor servant, in Kabul, Afghanistan, before the Soviet regime and Taliban invasion.
A horrific betrayal and war separate the two boys, and the two friends are forced to live very different lives – one a life of relative ease in the United States, and one a life of great tragedy in Afghanistan.
After years of separation, fate brings this Isaac-Ishmael duo back together in dire circumstances. A startling truth is revealed that will change the life of one of these young men forever and completely transform his legacy.
My Take: What I Liked
My fear was that this film would simply be a political or religious agenda-driven vehicle to get Westerners, particularly Americans, to rethink our involvement in the war in Afghanistan or to accept the Muslim faith without question.
But I was completely wrong. Actually, the movie is really more universal than that, with its overarching themes of good and evil, right and wrong. If anything, the film throws mud at those extremist factions, like the Taliban, for their hatred and tyranny.
This film is more allegorical, more morality play than some propagandistic endeavor. Oppressed Afghans are painted with compassion and honor, and we find ourselves, no matter who we are and what our political or religious background, entranced by this sins-of-the-father heart-rending tale of love and forgiveness triumphing over betrayal.
And though the filmic conclusion to the issue of sin looks to human efforts to bring about redemption, suggesting we can completely free ourselves through one great act of compassionate justice, Christians will find that the film is a wonderful platform for discussing the vital connection with Jesus Christ, our only true Redeemer, with those who hope to restore themselves through good deeds alone and recover the honor of their family name through self effort.
On that note, WingClips.com is offering free resources for church small group discussions. Thus, the dialogue about faith, culture, honor, shame, and other related themes and emotions can be hashed out.
This beautifully shot, beautifully told film has something else working to its advantage: a lack of star quality. Perhaps the only recognizable name among the actors is Shaun Taub, and many wouldn't even know him. This lack of Hollywood presence brings the necessary seriousness and cultural credibility that a film of this thematic magnitude demands.
My Take: What Concerns Me
I do not recommend this movie for young children or even teenagers, though it has been given a PG-13 rating. I would suggest an R rating because of its sexual references. It’s hard enough for adults to be confronted with the horrors of child rape, though the movie does well to play down the violence and protect the audience from experiencing too much of that reality. Though not gratuitous, it does make an indelible mark on the mind throughout the film viewing, which could disturb many impressionable souls.
And that brings up another related issue – using young actors to depict such atrocities. I worry about their innocence having been taken away during filming, though of course it was all fictionalized. This brings up the issue of ethics in the media: How far should we go in creating realism within a film, and when have we crossed the line?
A second concern I have relates to the brief depiction of the stoning of a woman who had broken sharia law. We see a bloodied woman in her blue burqa casually thrown into the back of a truck as if she were a sack of potatoes. The film doesn’t seem to show much compassion for her plight – not even from the main characters whom we have great compassion for. She seems more an afterthought. The focus is more on the men in the movie and what terrors they must endure. So it’s OK to stone a woman, but it isn’t OK to rape a young boy? So I should hate the Taliban for their treatment of young men, but ignore the treatment of this woman who might have been wrongly accused? There is a major discrepancy in this logic that frankly upsets me.
And, last, go prepared for some subtitles. The movie isn’t all done in English, which I think really adds to its charm and believability. However, for those who tire easily of reading on the screen, be forewarned that you are going to have to pay attention.
All in all, The Kite Runner is a well-told story, both cinematically and thematically, that sheds light on an often-misunderstood, forgotten people.
Poignant and poetic, this controversial and complexly layered film will spark much debate. Due to its adult themes, I do not recommend this for youth and children, and I strongly caution adults to be prepared for the film’s central heart-rending issues. Overall, however, The Kite Runner is an important film that will challenge your worldview and tap into your sense of justice and mercy.
For more about The Kite Runner , visit the official Movie Site.
Buy The Kite Runner novel
Kite Runner Bible study resources
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More articles by Laura Bagby on CBN.com
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