The Kite Runner (2007)

 

 

Director:     Marc Forster.

Starring:     Khalid Abdalla (Amir),  Atossa Leoni (Soraya),  Shaun Toub (Rahim Khan),  Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada (Omar),  Zekeria Ebrahimi (Young Amir),  Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (Young Hassan),  Mir Mahmood Shah Hashimi (Business Man in Baba's Study),  Homayoun Ershadi (Baba),  Nabi Tanha (Ali),  Elham Ehsas (Young Assef),  Bahram Ehsas (Wali),  Tamim Nawabi (Kamal),  Mohamad Nabi Attai (Uncle Saifo the Kite Seller).

two young friends go through rough times personally and politically in Afghanistan

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

San Francisco, California, 2000.  Amir Qadiri comes home to two packages containing copies of his just published book A Season for Ashes. He lives with his wife Soraya.  He receives a phone call suggesting that he should come home.  The man also says:  "There is a way to be good again, Amir."

Flashback.  Kabul, Afghanistan 1978.  Two young boys, Amir and Hassan, are flying their kite in a kite contest.  They cut the string of one of the other boys' kite.  Hassan then goes to an area where he knows the kite he cut will come down. 

Three men are talking together.  Amir's father hands the orphanage director a check.  The directors says thank you Agha Sahib, the Kabul orphans will never forget you.  When the director leaves Amir's dad's very close friend Rahim Khan says the bureaucrats will steal half the money.  Only half?, asks Amir's father.  "They've gotten lazy."

On the radio the news is that with the victor of the Saur Revolution, for the first time in the history of Afghanistan, power goes to the Democratic Party of the People of Afghanistan.  Rahim Khan says the communists are starting brawls at the university.  Amir comes home and goes up to his room.  Dad is worried about Amir.  The neighborhood boys push him around and take his toys.  And Amir never fights back.  His friend Hassan has to step in and fend the bullies off.  Rahim says the boy will turn out alright in the end. 

Rahim goes to say goodbye to Amir.  He is going to Pakistan for a visit.  Rahim asks Amir what's he doing and Amir tells him he's writing a story.  Dad's friend says he would like to read it, so Amir hands another story to him to read.  Amir has a rocky relationship with his father.  He thinks his father hates him because he killed his mother.  Rhahim says that's not true.  His mother died in childbirth and that's not his fault. 

Amir and Hassan want to go see the American film The Magnificent Seven again.  On their way they are bothered by three older and larger boys.  Their leader is Assef, a real sadistic fellow.  Hassan is of the Hazara people and Assef zeros in on that fact.  He says that Afghanistan is the land of the Pashtuns.  "We're the real Afghans."  Assef refers to Hassan as a flat-nosed Hazara. Going on with his hate, Assef says the Hazara people pollute the Pashtun's homeland and dirty their blood.  Hassan chases the older boy away by preparing to fire his slingshot.  (He's very good with a slingshot.)

Rahim sends a note to Amir that he liked Amir's story. 

Amir's dad drinks liquor and Amir comments:  "The mullahs at school say drinking is a sin."  Dad responds:  "You'll never learn anything of value from those bearded idiots."  He also refers to the mullahs as those "self-righteous monkeys". 

Amir and Hassan play together in an open area.  Amir's dad drives up in his Ford mustang.  The boys run to the car and hop in.  Dad says that they are going to go get Hassan his birthday present.  He takes the two boys downtown area of Kabul.  They go into Uncle Saifo's kite shopand Hassan picks out a kite. 

Hassan's father Ali works as a servant in the home of Amir.  Ali fixes cauliflower.  Rahim Khan, dad and Amir eat dinner together.  Dad talks about how one year he won the kit flying contest.  He cut down fourteen kites and believes that is still a record.  Amir and Hassan will compete as one kite flying team against many others. 

On the day of the contest there are boys and kites all over the place.  The boys fly their kites from the top of the roofs of the buildings.  Hassan is a better kite flyer than Amir, but Amir wants to show his dad that he can win the contest. He continues to cut down other kites until there is only two contestants in the contest.  Amir cuts the line of his opponent and wins the contest.  The two boys jump for joy.  Meanwhile, the three bullies are keeping their eyes on the two boys. 

Amir and Hassan get separated and Amir goes to look for him.  He asks a man if he saw a Hazara boy come this way?  The man says he saw a boy with a knife chasing another boy.  The three bullies are chasing Hassan.  Amir finds one of Hassan's kites smashed in the street.  He keeps running.  He stops when he sees that the bully boys have caught Hassan.  Amir stays back so he won't be caught too.  Assef says they will let Hassan off as long as Hassan gives Assef his kit.  Hassan says the kite is Amir's prize.  Assef tells Hassan that Amir only plays with him because Hassan is his ugly bet.  The bullies beat and kick Hassan.  Amir does nothing.  Then Assef undoes his belt.  He is about to commit sodomy on poor Hassan.  Amir runs away.  He tells no one what happened.  Later Hassan brings Amir's kite to him.  He is trailing blood from his posterior.

Dad says he is very proud of Amir. He says:  "Well done!" 

Hassan's father comments that all Hassan wants to do now is sleep.  He asks Amir if something happened.  Amir just says maybe Hassan is sick.  Amir's father comments that the mullahs want to rule our souls and the communists tell us we don't have any.  Dad then asks about Hassan.  Amir says he's sick.  Dad is skeptical.  He says Hassan doesn't get sick.  He senses something has gone wrong between the two friends and tells Amir not to let it fester too long because it just gets worse with time. 

Amir goes to see Hassan alright, but he just throws pomegranates at him.  He then taunts Hassan to hit him back.  He calls Hassan a coward.  Hassan just grabs a pomegranate and busts it on his forehead and smears the juices on his face.  He leaves.

Dad gets the birthday party read for Amir.  Amir asks his father if he ever thought about getting new servants?  Dad gets angry.  He says he has lived with Ali almost all his life. He tells Amir:  "You bring me shame." 

The birthday party is attended by a lot of adults.  Amir has to shake hands with the sadistic sodomite Assef.  Rahim gives Amir a fancy notebook to use to write his stories.  Hassan and his father work the party and Hassan has to serve the boys that sodomized him. 

Amir plants his watch under Hassan's pillow.  He then claims that Hassan stole his watch.  Ali brings his son to speak with Amir and his father.  Amir's dad asks Hassan if he stole the watch.  Hassan says yes.  Dad is shocked by the answer, but immediately says:  "I forgive you."  But Ali says they will leave. Their bags are already packed.  Dad tries to get Ali to reconsider, but it's no use.  They leave.

Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, December 1979.    Dad and Amir will have to leave Afghanistan.  Dad says that everyone has heard him denouncing and cursing the communists.  It will be too dangerous for him to stay.  Dad asks Rahim to please watch the house for him.  Rahim agrees to watch the house, but asks what if they (the Russians) don't leave?  Dad says:  "Everyone leaves.  This country is not kind to invaders."  Dad and Amir will go to Pakistan.  Smugglers want 5,000 a head for safe passage to Pakistan. 

Dad and Amir are on a truck headed toward Pakistan.  The Russians stop the truck.  One Russian checks the back. He sees a pretty mother with a baby and says he wants a half hour with the lady with the baby.  The driver translates for the husband and his wife.  The husband pleads that the soldier not do this.  The soldier insists.  Just then Amir's father gets up and tells the soldier he will not permit this thing to be done.  The Russian gets read to shoot Amir's father.  Fortunately for Amir, a Russian officer arrives and tells the truck driver to go.  At a rendezvous place the people in the truck are transferred to the inside of a large tanker truck. 

Fremont, California, 1988.  Amir's dad works at a gas station.  Amir graduates from community college and still wants to be a writer.  Dad wants to know what he will do to make some money?  They go to the bar to celebrate and Dad buys drinks for everyone. 

Dad introduces Amir to Gen. Sahib, Mr. Iqbal Taheri.  The soldier was a decorated general in Kabul.  Amir meets the general's daughter Soraya.  Amir and Soraya meet later again because they both sell items at a flea market.  He tells Soraya that he writes stores and asks her if she would like to read one of them.  Yes. 

Dad has some heart pain.  Amir brings a copy of his story to Soraya.  But her father interferes.  The general throws his story into a box, a definite sign of disrespect.  He motions to all the people at the flea market and says that everybody here is a story teller. 

Amir's dad doubles over with a bad cough.  Amir takes him to see a doctor, but as soon as dad learns that the doctor is Russian, he leaves.  They go see another doctor.  They have to come back to get the results of the medical tests.  Dad is put in the hospital.  Amir tells him he is writing "The Sultans of Kabul".  The general with his wife and daughter visit Amir's dad in the hospital.  Amir excuses himself.  He is upset.   Soraya.comes out of the room to talk with him.  She tells him that his story made her cry.  Amir is amazed that she read it.  He says it will be "our secret". 

Dad is finally back home.  Amir tells him that he would like him to ask the General for his daughter's hand in marriage.  Dad calls immediately.  When he gets off the phone he tells Amir that the general accepted. 

Amir goes to the general's house.  He and Soraya take a walk together.  She wants to tell Amir something.  She doesn't want any secrets between them.  Soraya says that the family lived at one time in Virginia.  They left there because she ran away with an Afghan man when she was just eighteen years old.  They lived together for a month when her father found them.  He forced her to go home with him.  She was hysterical at the time. 

The couple gets married.  The wedding ceremony and the reception are a lot of fun for both families. 

Soraya and Amir look at their wedding pictures.  Dad asks to be helped into bed.  He's now on morphine. 

Amir's father dies and is buried. 

Back to the present.  San Francisco, 2000.  The man on the other end of the telephone says that Amir must come.  It's Rahim Khan and he wants Amir to visit him in Pakistan.

Peshawar, Pakistan.  The taxi driver tells Amir that this area is called Afghan town.  He says sometimes it feels like Peshawar is a suburb of Kabul. 

Rahim Khan greets Amir warmly.  He says he's been in Pakistan for less than a year.  Kabul is no longer safe for him.  He also says that the Taliban is worse than what they say.  They don't even let a person be human.  They even banned kite flying.  Amir shows Rahim Khan his new book.  In the dedication of the book Rahim reads that the book is dedicated to Rahim Khan who liked his stories.  Rahim tells Amir that Hassan is dead.  He hired Hassan to take care of Amir's house in Kabul.  He moved in with his wife and son.  Hassan did a very good job with the upkeep of the house.  After Rahim left to go to Pakistan, the Taliban came.  They told Hassan and his family to leave the house by nightfall.  When he did not comply with their demand they shot him in the back.  His wife was also killed.  Now their son Sohrab is in an orphanage in Kabul. 

Rahim gives Amir a letter to him written by Hassan.  He then tells Amir to go back to Kabul.  Then he drops a bomb on Amir.  Ali was not Hassan's son.  Ali was sterile.  He raised Hassan, but did not father him.  Amir's father is also Hassan's father.  Amir and Hassan are actually brothers.  That means that the boy Sohrab is Amir's nephew. 

Amir goes back to Afghanistan by way of a jeep with a driver.  Now Amir has to wear a fake beard or the Taliban would grab him.  As they drive they see a man hanged on a public street.  The driver sees Amir staring at the Taliban fellows and warns him to never stare at the Taliban.  

The driver take Amir to the orphanage.  The director there has some bad news.  A Taliban official pays to take a girl with him when he comes to the orphanage.  What's worse for Amir is that Sohrab was recently taken by the pedophile.  Amir is outraged that the director would just give up a child like that.  The director defends himself by saying that he could have run out like everyone else, but he stayed to try and make a difference.  And he needs the Taliban's money to feed the orphans, because he has spent all his own resources. 

Amir calms down and asks how he can meet the pedophile?  The director tells him to go to Ghazi Stadium at the halftime of the soccer game.  His nephew might or might not be still alive.  Amir and his driver go to the stadium.  At half time the Taliban's entertainment fare is to stone a man and woman guilty of adultery to death.  Amir and his driver see the pedophile speak at halftime. 

Amir and the driver follow the Taliban back to their headquarters.  Amir goes in by himself.  With AK-47s trained on him, he is told to sit down.  Then he is told to take off the beard and the turban.  Sohrab is brought out to dance for them.  He has little bells sewn onto his sandals.  They put on some music and Sohrab dances. Amir and Sohrab are left alone with Amir's inquisitor.  The inquisitor turns out to be none other than the sadistic sodomite Assef.  Assef recognized Amir.  He tells Amir that he never forgets a face.  Then Assef start beating and kicking Amir.  Sohrab, like his father, is an excellent slingshot shooter.  He tells Assef to stop it.  Assef stops and complains.  He starts to approach the boy and Sohrab shoots him right in the eye.  Amir and he jump out of one of the windows and get into the jeep.  The driver takes off. 

At the Pakistan border, they have to pay a bribe.  Amir and Sohrab go to see Rahim.  A neighbor comes out and asks Amir if he is Amir.  Yes.  Rahim Khan gave her a note to give to Amir.  The neighbor says Rahim has died.  Amir is saddened.  When he goes to get Sohrab who was sitting on the steps he finds him gone.  Amir searches all over the place for the boy but does not find him.  He returns to Rahim's place and there sits Sohrab.  Amir tells him that he though he had lost him.  Sohrab explains that Assef used to come for him in the morning, so he went to hide from him. 

Amir and Sohrab return to California.  Amir introduces Sohrab to his Aunt Soraya.  At dinner with his wife's parents, the General refers to the Hazara boy.  He wants to know what he is to say to others when they ask why is their daughter with a Hazara boy?  Amir tells the Pashtun general not to call Sohrab a Hazara boy in his presence again.  He says the general can tell others that Amir's father slept with his servant's wife.  She bore him a son named Hassan.  He's Amir's nephew. 

Amir gets a kite for Sohrab.  He tells Sohrab that his father Hassan was the best kit flyer in Kabul.  He shows Sohrab some kit flying moves that he learned from Hassan.  They get into a contest with another kit flyer and Amir is able to cut his opponent's string.  Amir asks Sohrab:  "Do you want me to run that kite for you?"  He nods yes.  Amir starts running to retrieve the kite.  He says "For you, a thousand times over." 

 

Good movie.  Some of Afghanistan's problems are mirrored through the lives of two young male friends. Most of the story happens in Afghanistan, but some of it happens in San Francisco.  The boys lived through the Saur Revolution, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the ascent of the religious monsters, the Taliban.  Beware of a group of people or a person who acts righteously indignant over everyone's else's faults!  As a young boy in Afghanistan Amir did a series of terrible things because he was so frightened, but he ultimately redeems himself by showing considerable courage in doing good.   He wa ablet "to make it good".  The acting was good all around. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

Varying estimates of ethnic composition in Afghanistan:

 36.4% to 42.0% Pashtun

 27.0% to 38.1% Tajik      

8.0% to 9.2% Hazara

8.0% to 9.2% Uzbek      

0.1% to 4% Aimak      

1.7 to 3.0% Turkmen      

0.5% to 4.0% Baloch      

1.9% to 9.2% other (Pashai, Hindki, Nuristani, Brahui, Hindkowans, etc.)

 

For over 250 years, the Pashtuns reigned as the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan.  They are an Eastern Iranian ethno-linguistic group.  They speak the Pashto language and practice Pashtunwali (i.e., a traditional code of conduct and honor). 

The Tajik people are a wide range of mostly Persian-speaking peoples of Iranian origin.

The third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan are the Hazāra, a Persian-speaking people in the central region of Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.  They are predominantly Shi‘i Muslims.

 

The Saur Revolution was a takeover of power in Afghanistan by the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan on April 27, 1978.  This then led indirectly to Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. 

 

 

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