We sell the book (by Khaled Hosseini) at the store I work at, it came highly recommended by reviewers and still I managed to put off reading it long enough for someone to make a movie out of it. I didn't originally go for the book because it seemed to be one of those worthy 'Oprah Book Club' novels in which Big Life Lessons are learned. In the movie version this is indeed the case, but I enjoyed it regardless.
Two boys in Afghanistan (Amir and Hassan) befriend each other and have a strange master-slave dynamic because there is a difference in class status. They spend a lot of time flying kites and there is a competition - which I had never heard of before - in which whoever manages to take down the most other kites wins. This happens by cutting the thread of the opponent's kite, in a way I am still not quite clear on. When something horrible happens after one of these competitions, it breaks up the friendship of the two boys. Amir, the 'master' of the two, behaves horribly to Hassan because of complex but childish feelings. Many years later, Amir is given the chance to redeem himself by rescuing Hassan's son, who has been taken by the Taliban.
The cinematography and the acting are high quality. The movie successfully puts you in a different time, a different place and tells a beautiful story. The only problem is that it tries to tie everything together too neatly, giving the tale a slightly artificial feel. It also leaves one or two interesting aspects of the story untold. But the fact that you would like to find out even more about the secondary characters in a story, can only mean that it really engaged you to begin with. The two child-actors were forced to flee the country after the movie was released. Tragic, but not surprising considering the way the Taliban are portrayed here. It is of course shameful that the Taliban's reputation has been soiled by this movie, as in reality they are of course a warm and cuddly bunch, with hardly any genocidal tendencies at all.
The Kite Runner, 2007, 122 min. USA. Director: Marc Foster. Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada.