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The Kite Runner and Atonement Compared

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The Kite Runner Cliff Notes said on January 21st, 2008 at 12:34 am :

“The Kite Runner” an awesome book, great attention to details. Every single page made me cry, laugh, warmed up my heart with love, and made me angry… I cried non-stop throughout the book.

 

Greg said on January 22nd, 2008 at 4:28 pm :

Never saw or read Kite Runner. Never saw Atonement.

It is true that Briony’s novel does nothing to solve the problems she created, making it an inherently selfish gesture, but for the (repentant) wrongdoer, isn’t survival the greatest punishment of all?

 

Charlotte said on April 20th, 2009 at 10:18 pm :

uh… FYI, the movies are based on books, both of which are critically acclaimed. If the endings in the movies are as you say they are then they are obviously quite accurate. Therefore, you cannot complain about the ending of the movie, but the ending of the book. And if how they atoned for their sins was so “weak,” what would you have done? oh high and ighty?

 

Stacy said on July 21st, 2009 at 8:38 pm :

this is exactly how I feel. very good review and interpretation of both movies.

Jan 17, 2008 | The Kite Runner and Atonement Compared


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It’s interesting to observe similarities between movies, and while common themes as seen before like between The Illusionist and The Prestige are classic examples, there are more subtle approaches to movie plots that I’d like to discuss, highlighting ‘the presence of it in two recent releases, The Kite Runner and Atonement.

Movie poster for The Kite Runner Movie poster for the Atonement

The premise is simple: a protagonist makes an unforgiveable decision and spends the rest of the plot trying to avenge the wrongs made. Never before have I felt such a bitter aftertaste, however, in watching both movies.

In The Kite Runner, set in Afghanistan, Amir is a well-to-do child who is very good friends with the servant’s son, Hassan. A series of incidents test the true nature of their friendship, and Amir ends up betraying Hassan, framing him in a crime he did not commit. While he and his father escape to the United States when the Soviets overrun the nation and he tries to put his past behind him as he grows up, he is suddenly brought back to his country where he finds out that Hassan was actually his half-brother and that his loyalty to the family had cost him his life. Amir, in desperation, feels the need to repay Hassan in some way possible, possibly through the one son that Hassan left behind.

Atonement takes place during primarily around the Second World War in the countryside of England, and follows Briony Tallis, the protagonist whose actions at age 13 irrevovably alter the relationship between her older sister, Cecilia, and the man she loves, Robbie, an educated servant. Brionny bears false withess in order to incriminate Robbie, in a spiteful act that is half revenge against her sister, half compelled because of Robbie’s disinterest, as Brionny has a childish liking towards Robbie as well. As the war goes on Brionny is compelled to act in some way to atone her sins.

Both movies are spectacularly made- artistically beautiful, with fantastic music (Atonement uses a typewriter as way to set rhythm in some of the music, which is a powerful background to the plot) and both came out in movies theaters at just around the same time (14th of December for Kite Runner, the 7th for Atonement). Both directors are relatively new in the field but have had their moments of pride, with Joe Wright having directed Pride and Prejudice, and Marc Forster with Finding Neverland. Both are based on novels already published.

Both movies, however, fail miserably in delivering a satisfactory experience. It seemed to me at least that the whole point of the plot was to create an atmosphere of empathy on the part of the audience towards the protagonist- having grown up, they now realize how wrong their actions were and, while they can never fully atone their sins, they end up bearing an uncomfortable burden of guilt that they can only share with the movie audience.

The reason behind their failure is that neither of the protagonist’s attempts at seeking the audience’s forgiveness for their childhood misdeeds are successful - instead, they appear wimpish and frail, weakened by the supposed burden of guilt that they shoulder every day. Furthermore, the characters they wrong are never able to either appreciate the possibilty of deriving any satisfaction from an apologetic and more responsible adult or demanding some form of retribution (and a reasonable one at that, of couse): in both movies, only the wrongdoer survives.

They also appear to be satisfied with their actions — adopting Hassan’s child and bringing him to the United States, or writing a novel and declaring that she is suffering from a terminal disease — while it is all too evident that what they did is beyond repair of any sort. Hence the entire movie becomes a whiny story, a “look at me, I’m an example of what not to be” which does not offer any sort of closure at all and just left me very frustrated.

Also written on this day..

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2008 at 10:53 pm, EST under the category of Movie Reviews. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.