Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Kite Runner - movie makes more sense than the book

On Friday night I went to see the film of Kite Runner with a degree of scepticism. I had not, you see, bought into the universal acclaim accorded Hosseini’s 2003 novel. My opinion was that the depiction of an Afghan childhood was strong and that the book evoked late 1970s Afghanistan with a great deal of atmosphere, that the American section of the novel was somewhat weaker and that the crowd-pleasing orphan recovering thriller tacked unto the end was unnecessary, rather silly and cheapened the whole. The Kite Runner could have formed a good novella, but then it wouldn’t have sold millions of copies.

In actual fact the elements which I objected to most strongly in the book, make an odd type of sense on the big screen. The story retained the same problems, but the format of Holywood blockbuster somehow sustains unlikely and contrived occurrences much more readily than a novel which in its opening sections had aspired to literary fiction. Whether it was because I knew what to expect, or because the story suited the conventions of blockbusting cinema, I found the ending much less cloying.

Ultimately though this is a rather superficial treatment of some rather gruesome material. Both the film and the book share this superficiality. Serious themes are introduced, but remain unexplored and the viewer is let off with a valedictory recompense at the end.

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