‘Kite Runner’ soars high

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Mankind’s earliest writings were often tales of cowardice, courage, and finally redemption. The familiar theme seems to spring eternally from our very bone marrow, and that – perhaps – is what makes “The Kite Runner” resound with such clarity.

The film, directed by Marc Forster and based on the internationally best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, is seen through the eyes of an Afghan native who escaped when the Russians invaded in the late 1970s and returned during the reign of the Taliban. Things were bad under the Russians, but even worse in the hands of the Taliban right-wing religious fanatics.

That broad story becomes the epic background to the tale of a young man who betrays a childhood friend, grows up, and through an act of courage, redeems himself. And being primarily set in a culture far from our own (in many ways), the story seems fresh and satisfying. First the novel and now the film have, undoubtedly, opened many of our eyes to what is actually going on there – a picture far clearer, more intrinsically human and emotionally resounding than the recent “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

“The Kite Runner” is coming soon to The Visulite in Downtown Staunton, and I highly recommend it.

So, what does kite flying have to do with Afghanistan? It obviously has a more important place in this Third World country than it does in our own society, and in the film, I believe, comes to represent all things positive and free and normal. And within the relationship of the two boys, it becomes the symbol of their bonded friendship – one that endures even though it crosses forbidden lines of class and heritage.

The scenes shot in and around San Francisco offer a fascinating portrayal of the real Afghani culture that has settled there, so different from our own and yet made completely understandable. The flashbacks and other scenes photographed in Afghanistan (actually shot in China) show a grim truth: Invaders, whether they carry blazing guns or religious fanaticism, are never the harbingers of change for the good. (Might be a good thing for us to keep in mind when stepping into a voting booth.)

The great strength of this film, I believe, is the control of commitment. Brutality and injustice are shown in a matter-of-fact manner, but no one climbs on a soap box. Life is as it is, and we are left to draw our own conclusions. That’s what good movies do. And this is a very good movie.

Meanwhile, back at the Dixie:

The first-run feature currently playing at the Dixie in downtown Staunton is “Mad Money,” Diane Keaton’s latest foray into madcap comedy. She’s joined by Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah and they become a trio of thieves set to liberate very old money destined for the furnace. Critics frowned on this light-hearted caper flick. (Gee, don’t those people ever have any fun?)


Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.


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