As the years advance and you reflect upon your childhood, you're better able to see that the most wonderful and the most terrible things can happen in startlingly close proximity -- it's a quirk of life you don't notice until much later. Scars inflicted in youth often don't heal until maturity sets in, if ever. The traumas of childhood coupled with life in a turbulent political climate form the backbone of Khaled Hosseini's acclaimed 2003 novel The Kite Runner, adapted by director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Benioff, into a moderately successful film in 2007.
Much of the narrative parallels that of Hosseini's own life: The protagonist Amir (played by Khalid Abdalla as an adult and Zekeria Ebrahimi as a child) is a successful novelist, born in Afghanistan but currently living in California; Hosseini's own father was involved in government work as is Amir's, but the character of Hassan (played by Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) is most likely a fiction, or at least tweaked reality. Over the course of decades, Amir and Hassan's lives mesh and drift apart -- when we first meet the children in the late '70s, they are inseparable, spending their days flying kites, attending films and daydreaming. Unfortunately, Hassan, whose lineage is looked down upon by others, is attacked, which affects Amir in ways he doesn't fully comprehend.
Leaping forward and backward in time, The Kite Runner illustrates how grief and guilt can cut through the years, as a chain of events set in motion by Amir's shock leads Hassan out of his life, although not permanently. While his relationship with Hassan is the film's core, Amir also matures, marries and moves his father Baba (Homayoun Ershadi) to America to live with him. It's only when he receives a mysterious phone call from childhood mentor Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub), that Amir must return to the land of his youth and honor his friend one final time.
Having not read the book, I can't comment on whether it's a faithful adaptation, but there certainly aren't any loose threads in The Kite Runner -- Forster and Benioff keep the plot moving swiftly and the assembled actors (Abdalla, previously seen in Paul Greengrass' scorching United 93 is a revelation here; the two children who play Amir and Hassan are equally revelatory) acquit themselves well. Ultimately, The Kite Runner is a familiar tale, albeit one told very well. It's got the air of a prestige picture, trotted out to win awards, but also ably plucks the heart-strings, providing an epic tale with just the right amount of pathos.
From the dusty, desert-like environs of Pakistan and Afghanistan (actually China standing in for those two countries) to the urbane, cosmopolitan surroundings of San Francisco, The Kite Runner looks exquisite throughout and the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer doesn't disappoint. The colors pop, detail is crisp and aside from the occasionally glaring CGI effects, the image is solid throughout.
Even more-so than the dialogue or ambient effects, the score composed by Alberto Iglesias is really the star of the show here and the Dolby Digital 5.1 track lets it shine, dancing underneath several scenes. Aside from the score, the rest of The Kite Runner shines sonically, with the exotic tongue of Dari Persian being heard just as clearly as English. During the sequences in Dari Persian, forced English subtitles appear; optional French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included, as are optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Forster, along with Hosseini and Benioff, sit for a relaxed, informative commentary track that touches on several aspects of making the film, from adapting the novel to casting the characters. It's worth a listen for fans of the film. The 14 minute, 25 second featurette "Words from The Kite Runner" (presented in fullscreen) delves further into the adaptation of Hosseini's novel, with the 24 minute, 38 second featurette "Images from The Kite Runner" (presented in fullscreen) further exploring the actual making of the film. A one minute, 17 second PSA from Hosseini (presented in fullscreen) and the film's theatrical trailer, presented in anamorphic widescreen, completes the disc.
The traumas of childhood coupled with life in a turbulent political climate form the backbone of Khaled Hosseini's acclaimed 2003 novel The Kite Runner, adapted by director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Benioff, into a moderately successful film in 2007. It is a familiar tale, albeit one told very well. It's got the air of a prestige picture, trotted out to win awards, but also ably plucks the heart-strings, providing an epic tale with just the right amount of pathos. Recommended.