Fleeing your old life, everything you know and love, in the hope of a better life, is a common story for many of the worlds refugees. I the movies “the good lie” and “the kite runner” both centre around characters leaving their old life because of a conflict they barely manage to escape. In the story, lays messages and themes the viewer may benefit from considering.
A shared theme is that of family, different ways one may cope with the loss of members, and what it even is.
In the kite runner, the first major conflict is between the protagonist, Amir, and his half-brother/best friend, Hassan. We are repeatedly shown Hassan being fiercely loyal to Amir, often to a fault. The clearest example may be when Hassan is (presumably) raped by one of the recurring characters, Assef, who serves as the movies antagonist. In an attempt to purge his guilt for not intervening, Amir makes it seem as Hassan stole his watch. When Hassan is “caught”, instead of denying the accusations, he simply admits to the crime. This leads to his guardian/father figure, Ali, moving out, taking Hassan with him. So, despite losing his home, Hassan still says nothing as to not shame his friend. This exemplifies a loyalty one rarely sees outside of family. Despite neither of them knowing their blood-ties at the time. Hassan clearly saw Amir as a brother.
We see the opposite from Amir later in the movie. At this point, Amir is a grown man, and lives a safe life in the US, while Hassan died years ago. When he is informed that Hassan had a child, he sees it as his obligation to save the boy, Sohrab, from the captivity of a certain antagonist, who now has turned to terrorism. Of course, this sense of duty partially comes from a desire to redeem himself, but as he says himself: “The boy is my nephew”. Here we see Amir feeling compelled to help a family member, despite never having met his.
What is the difference between Amir and Hassan’s loyalty? While Amir partly acts due to the child being his nephew, Hassan is loyal to those he sees as family. Weather or not they actually share a close ancestry. This blurs the line between family and friendship so that those you value dearly may be seen as family.
The good lie echoes a similar message. This movie bases itself on the stories of real refugees. Here, an ever-shrinking group of Sudanese children has to flee their village after it is burned down. When they finally reach a refugee camp, they’re only four left, with almost twice as many having embarked on the journey. One of those who were lost, was the brother of one of our main characters, Mamere. Theo, as his name was, drew the attention of some soldiers so that the others may escape. Even years later, Mamere still blamed himself for Theos apparent death.
He was not alone in this sentiment. Paul, another survivor, saw it as Mamere’s responsibility to sacrifice, yet he “forced Theo to do it”. Mamere gets a shot at redemption however, when he receives a letter from someone claiming to be Theo. After verifying that the message wasn’t from an imposter. He tried to get Theo a passport, so they could return to the US together. This fails however, and he gives Theo his own passport. When Mamaere does this, he symbolically returns the life Theo gave him all those years ago. As such, he views the “debt” as paid. This follows the theme of duty to family. When Mamere returned to Sudan, he promised himself, and the others that he would get Theo home, no matter the cost. In the end, he sacrificed his own ticket to a better life for those he loves.