The Kite Runner

I walked out of a movie the other night.

The movie was The Kite Runner, based on the book by Khaled Hosseini. My sister invited me to see it with her at the Little, Rochester’s independent movie theatre. She’d read the book: I hadn’t, and I refused to let her talk about it because I wanted to be surprised. I was.

(Spoiler warning: you might wish to stop here if you want to be surprised, too.)

In the opening scenes, you see two young Afghan boys (played by Zekiria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) flying kites in the halcyon skies over 1970’s Kabul. Happy and energetic, their friendship is underscored by an insipid, vaguely Middle-Eastern soundtrack by Alberto Iglesias. About twenty minutes into the film, one of the boys is raped. This horrific scene literally shocked me out of my seat, and in my undignified haste to exit I thwacked the person in front of me with my bag. I babbled an apology, patted her head, and rushed out.

Everyone, I suppose, has something they just can’t stomach, whether it’s raw squid, the smell of wet dog, or Justin Timberlake. As for me, I can’t tolerate seeing violence against children. I’m still recovering from Mystic River.

Standing in the theater lobby, I felt shaken and a little foolish, thinking I should have read a review, listened to NPR, checked out Rotten Tomatoes, or asked my sister a few questions. I knew bad things were going to happen in this film, but I’d somehow missed the news coverage of how and why the boy actors were relocated for protection.

I walked to the ticket window and asked for a refund of my 8 dollars. I was refused, based on the Little’s official policy that if you’ve seen 25 minutes of a movie, you can’t get a refund. Annoyed, I decided to not complain about this random, absurd policy, even in a blog. I’m not so petty.

Sans refund, I wandered into the café, ordered hot cocoa, and sat down to wait for my sister.

After awhile, singer Gregory Paul walked in, unpacked his guitar, and drew a violin bow against its strings. He sang a full-throated, languid, melting hymn-like song that, in the moment, was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard.

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Comments

I walked out of "Life is

I walked out of "Life is Beautiful." Something about the father's desperation, and the way he endangered the rest of the people being held with him, was impossible for me to watch. I got hot and dizzy and then I just had to leave.

Hi, Rachel,

Have you ever avoided a movie you thought would hit a vulnerable spot? I didn't see Saving Private Ryan -- knowing it was a great film -- but also knowing it would be too emotionally costly.

Kite Runner

Julie caught my feelings about the book perfectly. Wonderfully written, but at times I had to catch my breath or flip pages quickly. I wouldn't have risked going to the movie.
I think "Private Ryan" is especially hard on men - we have to ask ourselves whether we could have done it. I avoided it and then was shown a clip of the beginning in a venue I couldn't leave. A friend who is a Gulf War vet was in the audience and he had to close his eyes. Interesting that Rachel also avoided it.
Amazing how light on a screen can have such an impact on us.
Bruce

Saving Private Ryan, Kite Runner

Most of the people I know who've seen Private Ryan say they're glad they did, though they wouldn't watch it again. Some of my radio colleagues have seen The Kite Runner and say it was worth it for the profound character development and sense of place. One said - about the setting, "All that dust and dirt and poverty. WHAT are they fighting over?"

Kite Runner

Although I'm not planning on seeing the movie, I have read (and would highly recommend reading) The Kite Runner. While I was reading, I had to put the book away for quite awhile at a certain point (and it wasn't even the rape scene) to give myself a mental/emotional break. I did finish the book and found that the overall story was well worth the read.

As a side note about the boys that played in the movie, there have been numerous articles about the boys and their families being relocated to UAE from Afghanistan due to fear of potential backlash at the scene that they enacted in the movie- the movie's release was actually delayed due to concerns for their safety. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/movies/03kite.html

I picked up the book

when it first came out, and maybe I'll read it. I think there's a bit difference between reading a description of violence and seeing it played out.