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The Kite Runner: Poignant But Brutal

Logically, I understand that The Kite Runner is a beautiful, stirring work of storytelling. It's a tender homage to the power of brotherhood and forgiveness. It's a song of redemption. Having read the arresting novel by Khaled Hosseini, I knew all this going into the screening. I also knew that the movie, like the book, might emotionally wreck me. And it did.

At its heart, The Kite Runner is about the enduring strength of love between men — brothers, friends, fathers and sons. The sweet relationship between Afghani best friends Amir and Hassan is the focus of the film, made somewhat complicated by the class differences between the two boys. Amir is the son of a wealthy intellectual from whom he consistently seeks approval and praise. Hassan is the son of Amir's father's servant. This is at times uncomfortable, but it doesn't deplete the tremendously innocent and emotional bond the two boys share.

Indeed, the most extraordinary thing about this relationship is the very image of purity it presents. It takes me back to childhood friendships I remember having, but it's also separate from my experience because of the simplicity of the boys' lives. Movie watching for them is a huge treat, not a given. Amir can read while Hassan cannot, so Amir reads Hassan's favorite stories to him. Their favorite activity is competitive kite flying. The beauty of this boyhood connection often moved me to tears. Yet the story doesn't remain innocent for long. To find out what I mean,

.

Amir witnesses Hassan being brutalized by bullies, and does nothing to stop it. This event causes a shift in the boys' friendship, and Amir's guilt haunts him his entire life. Amir moves to the U.S. with his father and eventually marries a woman, though they are unable to have children. When Amir learns that Hassan and his wife were killed by the Taliban, and that Hassan's young son has been taken in — and regularly brutatlized — by a Taliban leader, he travels back to his homeland, determined to save the child.

Here's what I don't get: For whom, exactly, was this movie made? Those who have read the book well understand the emotional meat grinder the story will put them through. I myself thought I would be prepared for some of the more vicious scenes, thinking that nothing could be worse than those conjured up by my imagination. Unfortunately, the opposite is true: I now have the vivid memories of these scenes, clear images of, say, a woman being beaten to death by stoning, that continue to haunt and nauseate me. These pictures are not easily chased away, and at times they arise unbidden.

The movie is well done in many technical regards. The screenplay adaptation is an efficient consolidation of an expansive story, and the performances — especially on the parts of the two little boys — are deeply affecting. The underlying message is ultimately one of love and forgiveness, but is it worth it to go through so much to understand that message? I suppose peoples' thresholds for this sort of thing vary from person to person, so I'll let you decide for yourself. Just consider yourself — and your tear ducts — warned.


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roxy17 roxy17 8 years
I read this book about two years ago too and like PRSugar, there are parts that still shake me to the core. Although I may have a different take, the images I played in my head while reading the book cannot be that far off from the movie. And Genvessel that is a great point - sometimes movies are meant to disturb you.
Gruberr1 Gruberr1 8 years
Buzz, I completely agree with you. I read this book almost two years ago, and some of the scenes still haunt me. The benefit of reading them instead of watching them was that I could tone down the images in my mind. I don't know that I could watch them on screen. I may have to take a pass on this movie for just that reason. I assume that the movie was made for the people who never took the time to read the book - and that is quite a shame.
7kimba7 7kimba7 8 years
I don't think I could see this movie. I read the book and it was wonderful, but very hard at some points.
ErieIndiana ErieIndiana 8 years
I guess I'll be the one person who disagrees here. I saw this movie at a free screening with my boyfriend, and while I understood what the underlying messages were... I felt it was lacking. My boyfriend and I both left wondering why exactly the film was made that way. It felt like unnecessary scenes were added while others were cut and neither of us have read the book! Maybe that is why it just didn't grab us on screen. It isn't a film I would recommend seeing in the movie theatre to others.
genvessel genvessel 8 years
this book ruined me - two scenes in particular - and I'm still not sure how to fully react to them and it's been about four months since I read it. i think, buzz, that the movie is being made because sometimes stories are meant to disturb us. this reality that's presented is a reality that's more real for a lot of persons on this planet than any reality we live in. much like "hotel rwanda" and "constant gardener" - both of which rock me to my core - the reality contained in this movie needs to inform our western reality. but i agree with you - anyone seeing this movie should be prepared to be uncomfortable and bring a box of tissues along as well :)
hayworthgilda hayworthgilda 8 years
I loved the book, and thought they did a great job in translating the story to the screen. I especially liked the scenes in pre-war Afghanistan -- they did a great job of evoking the feel of time and place. It was interesting to see a portrait of Afghanistan so different than the war-torn images of the past decades. Although the film doesn't shy away from the brutalities in the story, the film is directed with a restrained hand. It's not gory or very graphic; I think the impact comes from the way the story follows the effects of specific violent acts. I definitely recommend it.
minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
I think it would be worth it for people to undergo that sort of trauma - after all, some of us have lived through it. Isn't it worth it in order to understand that people are human, all over the world, which we too often forget? We are all men andwomen, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons - this is the sort of film that forces its audience to understand that, when even the most understanding people (especially in the Western world) are conditioned to forget this. It's lucky that you have the opportunity JUST to witness something of it. Most people don't have that luxury, and this sort of movie is a reminder of that.
DeaconP DeaconP 8 years
i LOVED this book, but i can't imagine what a movie would be like. btw - if you liked this book, you would love 'a thousand splendid suns'...but expect more tears!
figurine figurine 8 years
I'm not as crazy about the book as many others, but I think I'll check this one out.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
I imagine the movie was made this way for the reason I assumed the book was written that way - to bring to light and force us to deal with some of the brutality going on in another place that is all too easy to ignore. I don't know if I want to see this movie. I LOVED the book. But, it was emotionally draining! Think I'll just read his other book (which has been checked out of my library for MONTHS) instead.
robinesque robinesque 8 years
I READ THE BOOK THAT HAD MY KIDS COMPETING FOR MY ATTENTION. DON'T YOU HATE WHEN A GREAT BOOK FINISHES? MY 13 Y/O READ IT AND LOVED IT ALSO. WHEN I FINISHED, I'D HEARD THAT THE MOVIE WAS ABOUT TO BE RELEASED - ONLY IN LIMITED RELEASE!!!!!!I TRIED ALL DAY LAST FRIDAY TO FIND A THEATER W/IN 60 MILES THAT WAS SHOWING TKR, & WAS ##**^%ED TO FIND THERE WAS NONE IN MY AREA!!! BY NOW, YOU MUST BE WONDERING WHERE ON EARTH I LIVE. EVER HEARD OF DALTON, GEORGIA, THE CARPET CAPITAL OF THE WORLD?? ME NEITHER, TILL WE MOVED HERE 3 YEARS AGO. GO FIGURE. WAITING FOR THE DVD, HERE.
Beth1122 Beth1122 8 years
I LOVED the book, but like Buzz said, I'm not sure that I want to see the movie...I don't think I need those images back in my head after months of trying to get them out. But then again, it was such a good book that I doubt I can keep my curiousity at bay and I'll probably end up seeing it on DVD.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I read this book a few months ago and thought it was AMAZING. I can't wait to see this movie.
nicachica nicachica 8 years
oh man, i LOVED this book. it's such a heartbreaking work of genius (wasn't that the name of another book?). i cried so much when i read that book and felt emotionally drained by the end but in a good way. i'm really looking forward to seeing this movie...
Buzz News Roundup, 10/5
First Look: The Kite Runner

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