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The Kite Runner by Alberto Iglesias

The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner (Soundtrack) by Alberto Iglesias

The Kite Runner
Composed by Alberto Iglesias
Deutsche Grammophon (2007)

Rating: 5/10

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Listen to this soundclip of The Kite RunnerOpening Titles (355 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of The Kite Runner

Fly a Kite (367 kb)

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“One might guess that THE KITE RUNNER has a heavy Middle Eastern influence throughout. That it does; however, there is a bit more going on here that provides moments of enjoyment for the contemporary, western ear.”

Catching the Essence of Kites
Review by Christopher Coleman

During the Christmas season of 2007, I was inundated with THE KITE RUNNER. My sister read the book and told me how good it was. Her son, my nephew, then read it. My other sister's daughter received it as a Christmas present and could hardly put it down. Buzz over the film was quite prevalent around the internet as well. Having seen its Golden Globe nomination for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM and BEST ORIGINAL SCORE, I just couldn't resist any longer. Shortly after Christmas, I was finally able to take in the flick itself.

THE KITE RUNNER was not what I expected. The film, of course was adapted from author Kahled Hosseini's first novel which was first published in 2003. I only had a rough idea of the film's setting and its well-marketed images had me thinking (and hoping) for a somewhat lighthearted tale about two friends who flew kites in Afghanistan. That element does exist, but it is rather short lived while a barrage of other tones and emotions take over the film - ranging from outrage, to disgust, to pity, to heartbreak. THE KITE RUNNER, in the end, is a brutally sad tale, with a hint of hope and measure of redemption by the films end. Helping to traverse this wide range of emotions and exotic setting is ALBERTO IGLESIAS' eclectic score.

Composer ALBERTO IGLESIAS has done most of his work for Spanish cinema but has been a part of a few well-known projects. In 2006, he wrote the score the well-nominated and awarded film VOLVER and was nominated for an Academy Award for his score for THE CONSTANT GARDENER in 2005. This, his major project for 2007, seems to also have him headed for a busy award season. In fact, THE KITE RUNNER has already garnered Iglesias a SATELLITE AWARD for BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK.  Nominations and awards aside, his latest score is as different from VOLVER as itself was different from THE CONSTANT GARDENER.

One might guess that THE KITE RUNNER has a heavy Middle Eastern influence throughout. That it does; however, there is a bit more going on here that provides moments of enjoyment for the contemporary, western ear. The standard orchestral instruments are courtesy of members of the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra, but to set the film, Iglesias employs a great variety of instrumentation from all around the Middle-East and Western Asia. The Persian santur (a hammered dulcimer instrument), the oud (a fretless lute), the bansuri (alto flute of Indian origin), the ney (flute of Persian roots), and the tabla (Indian percussion instrument) are among such instruments used with great effectiveness. What ALBERTO IGLESIAS has composed for THE KITE RUNNER isn't, by the composers own admission, true Afghan music. Instead its a tapestry of instruments from the general vicinity of Afghanistan, woven together to tell director Marc Forester's interpretation of Hosseini's story.

Ironically, Iglesias' score is probably more Western than you might have anticipated. What gives THE KITE RUNNER its character isn't the Western orchestra but the infusing of the aforementioned Middle-eastern and Asian elements into the predominantly western backdrop. Of course such an infusion is not new, but Iglesias' incorporation might be more aggressive than us Westerner's are used to hearing. Thus its easy to have a false, initial impression that this is a "Middle-Eastern score." There is another reason that the musical experience of this film and soundtrack might, overall, feel more Middle-Eastern than it actually is and that is due to the four tracks written and performed by two of Afghanistan's most famed musical stars.

Beyond Iglesias' score, music plays a significant part in THE KITE RUNNER. There are two tracks from AHMAD ZAHIR, one of Afghanistan's most famous performers of the 1970s: "Tanha Shudan Tanha" (6) and "Az Man Begurezed" (9). Also included are two songs from EHSAN AMAN, another writer/singer who started in Afghanistan in the 1970s: Omaid e Man (13) and "Dukhtare Darya" (18). Interestingly, Aman was one of the many Afghans who fled his native country in the 1980s, when the Soviet army invaded - an event that is vividly depicted in the film itself.  When listening to the entire soundtrack (and in the film as well), these four tracks have a profound influence on perception of Iglesias' score.

THE KITE RUNNER does stand out from the lot of 2007 scores. Whether or not you appreciate Iglesias' work as presented on the soundtrack largely depends on if your musical palette includes that of the Middle-East and moreover, whether you give the soundtrack enough listens to appreciate what he has done. Admittedly, I initially found myself quite underwhelmed by this score. I was certain this score would get nothing higher than a 4/10 from me.  As I gave the soundtrack repeated listens and paid more close attention, it became clear that this wasn't the unapproachable, score I first thought it was. This one won't be loved by everyone in its entirety, but for those of you looking for a breath of fresh air, THE KITE RUNNER might offer a few tracks that do something for you.

Rating: 5/10


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Opening Titles 3:20  ****
2 The Call, Kabul 1978 2:32  ***
3 He Hates Me 1:07  ***
4 Kite Shop 3:06  ***
5 Sin 1:34  ***
6 Tanha Shudam Tanha - Ahmad Zahir 3:35  **
7 Kite Tournament 5:40  ****
8 Hassan Theme 2:57  ***
9 Az Man Begurezed - Ahmad Zahir 5:04  **
10 Plant the Watch 1:29  **
11 Russians Invade 2:22  ***
12 The Truth 1:59  **
13 Omaid e Man - Ehsan Aman 1:47  ***
14 Fuel Tanker 3:09  ***
15 End Phone Call 2:06  **
16 The Stadium 2:33  *
17 Escape 3:09  **
18 Dukhtare Darya - Ehsan Aman 3:42  **
19 Fly a Kite 4:27  ***
20 Reading the Letter 2:49  ***
21 Supplication 4:05  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 62 minutes  




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