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At The Movies: Brothers in Arms: The Kite Runner ****

One thing Oscar season is good for is delivering meaningful Hollywood films at their absolute best. It still holds true that, for the most part, the best films of the year are released between September and December. Marc Forster’s unforgettable new film, The Kite Runner, had planned on being released this weekend, in early November, but the safety of two of the film’s stars has been taken into account, and the film has now been moved to mid-December. Do not mistake this action as a reason not to see this moving and unforgettable film.

The story broke on NPR that the boys in the film were going to have their lives threatened once the film was released because, in Afghanistan, even child rape pins the guilt on the victim. Apparently, the father of one of the actors who plays one of the two boys in the film did not know when he agreed to the project that his son would be cast in such light. Because of the film, and the potential danger, the actors have been moved to Dubai and the film’s release date pushed back.

It was quite a drama for a time, with operatives being dispatched to Kabul to assess the potential harm that might befall the children. Because of the extremism currently at work, Kabul was deemed unsafe for them. It is difficult to respect this archaic custom, though one doesn’t want to be the ugly American imposing our own values upon their culture.

On the other hand, this is a film about coming to terms with the current hypocrisy and wrongdoing by the evil forces that took over the country. Maybe it isn’t a film for men living in Afghanistan, but it is most certainly a film for Afghanis living in America.

Recently, Khaled Hosseini, the author of the book upon which the film is based, agreed with the decision to delay the film’s release. He told the Houston Chronicle, “Afghanistan has become a pretty violent place within the last year. If the boys and their families think there is a reasonable risk of threat to them, then you have to take all of the steps that you can to make sure they are okay.”

Hosseini’s novel examines the rape in the context of a bigger issue, the exploitation of the Hazara ethnic group, which crossed gender lines. The film’s lead, Amir, must come to grips with his past and his tradition as he slowly faces the truth about his country and what it became during the period during the Russian invasion and all that followed.

Hosseini also hopes that attention will be again brought to the ashes and rubble that is now Afghanistan, as he again told the Chronicle, “Look at the reaction that this book has received around the world: Afghanistan has become familiar in millions of living rooms around the world. People who had no interest in Afghanistan suddenly are interested. A whole slew of aid organizations are pouring money into the country around the release of this film – building schools, building libraries, doing teacher training, promoting literacy, and so a whole lot of good is coming out of this.”

The Kite Runner opens with the tradition of flying kites through Kabul. Director Marc Forster brings an urgency to this sport, giving the illusion that we the viewer are on top of the fast traveling kites. The film follows the story of Amir (Khalid Abdalla), who grew up with his father’s servant’s son Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), and the two were best friends. Hassan is big-hearted and devoted, and when his friend Amir is threatened he defends him. This act of defiance is what gets him in trouble. Eventually, Amir and his family leave Afghanistan and Hassan stays. Throughout his life, though, Amir is haunted by his past, what went on in his own country and in his own family. He goes back to make amends, and in so doing discovers that there is nothing so worthwhile as an ideal than embracing the cold, hard truth. The Kite Runner is one of the best films of the year. It will be released December 14. Do not miss it.

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