Directed by Marc Forster
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 127 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Review Date: March 6, 2008
Marc Forster’s detailed and emotional adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner makes for an involving and emotional movie experience. The story is occasionally too pat, and some of the characters might foster irritation rather than sympathy, but the film remains a pleasure to watch and certainly a movie with its emotions in check but most definitely in the forefront.
Thoughtful, sensitive Amir Qadiri (Zekiria Ebrahimi as a child, Khalid Abdalla as an adult) has spent most of his life removing himself from confrontations and upsetting personal encounters. Feeling tremendous guilt over not helping his young friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan) when Hassan had put his life on the line for him, Amir breaks off the friendship and regrets his actions thereafter. Later after he and his father flee Afghanistan for America after the invasion by the Russians, he learns that his old family friend Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub) wants to see him. Returning home, he learns that he has a chance to make good on his lapsed friendship of decades before, but it will involve the kind of risk and danger that Amir has always avoided.
The best selling book has been adapted for the screen by David Benioff, and of necessity, the story has been streamlined (some fans might think too much especially in the middle section). Director Forster keeps the pace always moving ahead allowing some of the improbabilities of the final third of the story to come and go quickly enough to escape disbelief. Otherwise, there’s several lyrical and most enjoyable kite flying sequences that are gracefully handled and are actually as competitively involving as more typical sporting events on film. His marvelous way with directing children, already proven in the magical Finding Neverland, is once again on display here. Kudos also go to production designer Carlos Conti who creates the beautiful Afghani towns and countryside pre-invasion and the stark rubble and destruction of the land post-invasion. The symbolic light and dark of the area is reflected so tellingly in Amir’s once-happy and now-miserably guilty and regretful existence.
Child actors Zekiria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan portray their loving childhood friendship with great veracity, and Homayoun Ershadi and Nabi Tanha as their fathers likewise convey a lifetime of devotion to one another beautifully. Khalid Abdalla is emotionally right on the money as the grown-up Amir, but his milquetoast manner and dainty steps toward asserting his rights may strike some as perhaps a tad too tentative. Chief villain Assef is played by Abdul Salam Yusoufzai as an adult and Elham Ehsas as a child in fairly stereotypical fashion.
The film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio is delivered in a very nice anamorphic transfer. The Afghan sequences are bathed in a warm tone that’s very appealing in close-up but somewhat less so in medium and long shots which tend to be softer and indistinct. There is some minor haloing during the film, but it’s never overly intrusive. The American sequences are photographed in more natural light, but retain the qualities of the earlier scenes: sharp in close-up and somewhat less so in other shots. Much of the film is subtitled, and the golden yellow subtitles are easy to read. The film is divided into 16 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is well recorded and features some good discreet sounds in the surrounds. The LFE channel, on the other hand, gets little use here. Alberto Iglesias’s score is overly busy and features some rather obvious lyrics, but the recording does a good job spreading the music across the front and into the rears.
Director Marc Forster, novelist Khaled Hosseini, and screenwriter David Benioff contribute a subdued audio commentary. Forster is the driving force of the speakers often asking questions of the two writers to get them to input something. The DVD has placed the director’s voice in the center channel with the novelist’s voice in the front right and the screenwriter’s voice in the front left to allow for easy understanding of who’s speaking at any given moment. Much of what’s said in the commentary can also be found in the featurettes.
“Words from The Kite Runner” deals basically with the original novel, the screen adaptation, and the director’s opinions on each of the writers with the three men from the commentary again doing the talking. The nonanamorphic featurette runs 14¼ minutes.
“Images from The Kate Runner” is a more traditional “making of” documentary as the producers and director talk about casting the movie, filming in China and the difficulties of making it look like Afghanistan, and the special effects used for the kite fight sequences. This nonanamorphic feature runs 24 minutes.
Novelist Khaled Hosseini has filmed a 1 minute public service announcement on behalf of aid to Afghanistan which can be watched as an introduction to the film itself or watched separately from the special features menu.
The film’s theatrical trailer is presented in anamorphic video and runs for 1¾ minutes.
Previews on the DVD include Son of Rambow and Cloverfield.
The Kite Runner will utterly grip your attention if given half a chance. Seeing a devoted friendship, a betrayal, and ultimately a renewal play out over the course of decades makes for a most involving and memorable motion picture.