Monday, December 31, 2007


In Dari, Pashtu, Urdu and Russian with English subtitles

Dari is the official name of the Persian language variant spoken in Afghanistan.
Pashtu is a language spoken by Pashtuns living in Afghanistan.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan.

Kite fighting is a sport played by children. Most of these kites are single line flat kites that are unstable while there is little tension on the sail of the kite. Releasing line will cause the kite to spin; pulling in the line will cause the kite to deform into a shape that allows it to fly in a straight path. To control the kite, the flier will release line until the nose of the kite is pointed in the direction that the flier wants the kite to go, and then they will pull in line to make the kite track to the desired point in the air. Many of these types of kites are flown with a line that has an abrasive on it to cut their opponents' line. Usually the kite flyer is assisted by a spool handler who is also the kite runner. The best kite runners somehow know where a kite that has been cut loose will land and get there before anyone else to retrieve it. The fallen kite is considered a trophy.

Bābā is the Persian word for father.

The Hazāra are a Mongoloid people who reside mainly in the central region of Afghanistan. Set apart from fellow Afghans by religion, ethnicity and an independent nature they have suffered for these differences. Persecution has shaped and defined the Hazara, particularly over the last 200 years.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan (also known as the Soviet-Afghan War) was a nine-year conflict involving Soviet forces against the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen insurgents. The latter group were supported by the United States (covertly so as not to engage the Russians directly), Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim nations in the context of the Cold War. The initial Soviet deployment took place on December 25, 1979 and the final troop withdrawal began on May 15, 1988. The war had a profound impact in Russia due to the high cost and ultimate futility of this conflict. It is considered by many to be one of the key factors in the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Khalid Abdalla: 32-year old Amir
Atossa Leoni: his wife Soraya
Zekeria Ebrahimi: twelve-year old Amir
Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada: Amir’s best friend Hassan
Homayoun Ershadi: Amir’s father Baba, a wealthy Kabul businessman
Nabi Tanha: Hassan’s father Ali, Baba’s longtime servant
Shaun Toub: Rahim Khan, Baba's business partner and best friend

Not having read the novel I can’t be sure who is responsible for the story’s major weakness: the author or the screenwriter? In any event, good writing would not leave us being blindsided by such things as Amir’s reaction as a child to the confrontation with the three bullies. There was no hint of this at any point prior to that. Nor is there any clue about the adult Amir that would explain his actions once he gets to Afganistan.

The acting for the most part is not particularly outstanding (except for Baba) and no serious effort has been made to shorten the run time which clocks in at over two hours. It drags on unnecessarily with too much time devoted to seeing a jeep careening through mountain roads and the kite dogfights go on far too long. Even the fine cinematography is spoiled by showing the same shots several times.

for strong thematic material including rape, violence and brief strong language.

When young Amir is sitting at his desk having just opened a letter, both it and the envelope it came in move about from one shot to the next even though Amir does not touch them.

According to Afghan tradition, a woman who has cohabited with a man is unsuitable for marriage to someone else.

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