Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Kite Runner

(USA/China, 2007)

I haven’t read the book, but I knew this was not about the All-Afghan Kite Tournament. Which is a little odd, because apparently the two young Afghans who are featured in the first part of the movie were under the impression that it was something very like that. And why not? Many of their scenes involve kite flying. Trouble is, in addition to having no sense of humor and no tolerance for blasphemy, most Muslims won’t tolerate criticism of … well, pretty much anything. So when the government banned the film, lots of people worried the kids could be in big trouble if they went back to that hell on Earth known as Afghanistan. So now they’re being raised in the United Arab Emirates, with Paramount footing the bill. As they should.

Good grief, Afghanistan. It’s a hard country to like, or even tolerate. It spawned the most vicious religious extremist government I’ve ever heard of. I know many religions are anti-fun … and why is it that so many “devout” people of so many religions fear the very idea that somewhere, someone might be enjoying himself? … but the Taliban, as a group, were and still are clinically psychotic, by any rational measure. We all know the main cash crop is opium—and the crop yield has improved greatly in volume since we went over there and tried to stop it!—but I’d have to say a close second would be rocks, and they also produce a fine harvest of dust and various grades of grit. I’ve seen several films set in Afghanistan (and yes, I know few of them were actually filmed there, but they picked landscapes that could pass for Afghanistan; this one was done in China) and I cannot recall ever seeing so much as a blade of grass in any of the shots. Of places on the globe I’d like to visit, this shithole would have to be near the bottom. But everyone seems to love his native soil, barren and forsaken though it may be.

Back to the movie … the title might as well have been Atonement, but that was already taken. A young boy behaves in a cowardly manner, and then does something truly nasty in an illogical attempt to expiate his guilt. Doesn’t work. Many years later he gets the chance to atone for his craven act, takes it, and succeeds. Not really a lot more to be said. It’s very well done, though a little slow in places. And for the life of me I don’t know why the Afghan government doesn’t want its people to see this. It is as nasty a portrayal of the Taliban as I’ve ever seen, though no one film could ever capture the full horror of those execrable pig-fuckers. I’d think this film would help remind the populace of how truly hellish life was under those bearded, cowardly thugs. And cowardly is the perfect word. Men who beat women (and these men stoned them to death) are yellow-bellied cowards. And when the Northern Alliance swept down on them … they ran like the spineless fuckers they are. Damn them all to eternal hell.

Sorry. It’s hard to criticize this film as a film. My opinions on the setting and culture keep getting in the way.