“The Kite Runner”—family value of Standing Up For Your Life

The St. Louis Writers Guild did its best to get a free preview screening of “The Kite Runner,” but didn’t quite make the numbers. This whetted my appetite to see the film, though, and last night I walked up to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel Cinema, just a few blocks from my place to see the show. Now, having seen the movie, it does make me want to read Khaled Hosseini’s epic novel of fathers and sons because I have a feeling director Marc Forster’s adaptation has done the book justice.

The official site of The Kite Runner is an amazing multi-sensory extravaganza. Even if you don’t think you want to see the movie, I highly recommend you check out your site for the state of the art movie sites. While you’re there, click on Roger Ebert’s review which is just excellent.

Other reviews focus on the themes of atonement and reconciliation. Within the large landscape of global tragedy and terrorism we see the smaller circles of tragedy and terrorism within a family and within the members inside the family. “The Kite Runner” is exquisite in its ability to set up reverberating echos between these levels…personal violation…societal violation…ecological violation (the trees are cut down).

What stays with me in the quiet light of this Sunday morning is the family value that ripples through the movie of standing up for your life. There’s a terrible cost if you do…but an even more terrible cost if you don’t.

Standing up for your life…the scene on the stairway as the boy overhears his father’s concern, “If a boy won’t stand up for himself, what will he stand up for as a man?” The father (Iranian actor Homayoun Ershadi plays Baba, Amir’s father) himself models to the hilt what it is to stand up for principle and for honor as they flee the country…and as, in his last days, he makes the journey to make a formal request for his son’s marriage. Standing up for your life…Shaun Toub who plays Rahim Khan...models a different way of standing up…a way of nurturing.

So many interwoven examples throughout this gripping movie illuminate this theme. How one boy stands up and pays the price directly (“Nothing is free.”) and how the other boy doesn’t and pays the price indirectly, setting up a mess that moves inwardly to outwardly.

For me, the scene I’ll remember longest from “The Kite Runner” is not one of the more violent scenes others mention…but the quiet scene at the kitchen table toward’s story’s end when Amir speaks the truth, fueled by the courage he’s learned he, too, carries, like his father and like Rahim Khan.

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