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Kite Runner Movie vs. Book

by torimadden

The Kite Runner film (2007) is both a thrilling and moving tale directed by Mark Forster that tells us the story of two brothers, two social classes and one culture that takes place in the heart of Afghanistan. The author of The Kite Runner novel, Khaled Hosseini quotes, “People say that eyes are windows to the soul.”(Hosseini, 8) It tells us that the reader cannot depend on the dialogue to truly capture an accurate representation of their point of view, that they will need to see things through their eyes and put themselves in the characters shoes. The Kite Runner film gives us the immersive experience that allows the viewer to see first hand through the eyes of the characters, what Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner could only infer. The director of the 2007 film, Mark Forster achieves an incredible effect on the viewers by keeping them culturally aware at all times; something that the novel can only attain through the use of excessive description and constant reminding. With the effective use of filmic codes and conventions we receive a certain cultural awareness from the ethnic components of location, sound and language.

The Kite Runner film gives the viewers an opportunity to be present in what is happening during the film, based on the location in which it is filmed, constantly reminding them of the rather unfamiliar culture in which the Kite Runner novel falls short of. In the particular scene on page __ where Amir, the protagonist wakes up to the absence of Sohrab, Hassan’s son, he begins to panic and becomes desperate. We see a scene of Amir amongst many other Muslim people kneeling at the altar of a temple. This scene features the mughal architecture that incorporates large bulbous domes and sturdy pillars all representing the structure and character of the Afghani lifestyle from the effective use of mise en scene specifying particularly in set and prop design. We see Amir immersed in what is supposed to be his own culture not only to reveal that he is truly an outsider in his own country. The contrast of the Afghani people who surround Amir really displays how the North American culture differentiates from the Afghani culture. We can derive these conclusions from his fresh clothes and well kept beard all portrayed with the convincing use of costume design on both the people of Afghani and Amir. During this scene, Amir’s body language and facial expressions represent disparity which corresponds to his frantic gestures and movements supporting how his ways of the Muslim culture have faded. We realize that the surrounding individuals who are praying are proceeding with a certain calmness as opposed to Amir’s ability to turn to God only in his time of hopelessness. On Amir’s journey back to Afghanistan there are many instances where he comes in direct contact with the Taliban who were figures of the government known for using extreme sources of punishment on innocent people. The use of acting elements incorporated in these scenes were expressions of intenseness and fear as well as stiff body language which created a very harsh and extreme ambience for these scenes. The author of the Kite Runner novel, Khaled Hosseini, quotes “The red Toyota pickup truck idled past us. A handful of stern-faced young men sat on their haunches in the cab, Kalashnikovs slung on their shoulders. They all wore beards and black turbans. One of them, a dark-skinned man in his early twenties with thick, knitted eyebrows twirled a whip in his hand and rhythmically swatted the side of the truck with it.” The readers struggle to understand what this truly means and feels like as majority of the readers have never experienced it. The film comparingly allows us to understand these emotions as close as we would ever be able to with the use of Khalid Abdallar’s gestures and facial expressions, who is the actor who plays Amir’s character. The heroic kite scene tournament was dominantly one of the highlights of the movie. The incredible use of computer generated imagery made this scene give the effect that the viewer was the one flying the kite and really focused in on how crucial this event was for the plot. Alongside, these scenes were captured in Kashgar, China, setting the cultural tone of this entire scene. Contrasting to the novel, the author, Khaled Hosseini, doesn’t accomplish even nearly the kind of adrenaline rushing experience that the film does. Additionally, the book also contains components involving audio that create another plunging experience for the viewers that the novel would never be able to achieve.

Through the use of an array of sounds in the Kite Runner film, we get another glimpse into the lively yet present culture that the film takes place in. The film displays how in the moment people live in the Afghani culture despite the loud, busy noises that are constantly in activity. In the particular scene when Hassan is running the kite through the market, we hear the pitter patter of children’s feet sprinting through the dirt roads, the sizzling of fish being deep fried, the bells of bikes flying through the market, the yelling and hollering of young children as they play among the street venders, the authentic Afghani flutes humming tunes and the sounds of dozens of sheep congesting the market. The sound effects not only give us a glimpse of what Afghanistan sounds like, but with the help of visuals in correlation to the sound effects, it brings both senses to this standpoint and stimulates reality. Apart from the market music we here in this film, the editors provide a score consisting of modern instrumentation as well as some subtle background soundtrack that is consistent throughout the entire film. Although, we predominantly don’t acknowledge the fact that non-diegetic music is there, thus acting upon the unconscious mind, it is an ally of illusion and it allows us to primarily be somewhere we are not.

The language in the Kite Runner film is another illustration of how we are constantly being reminded of where exactly the film is taking place and how our perspectives may be altered accordingly. The film has multiple ways of displaying language as it has times when the language spoken is Farsi and the film contains subtitles as well as when Farsi is being spoken and there are no subtitles where the directors intentionally did not want us to understand along with when English is being spoken. Apart from the multiple perspectives these conventions give us, we also can compare and contrast different cultures, for example when the setting jumps between San Francisco and Afghanistan. Specifically, in the scenes when Baba, the main character’s father and his close family friend, Rahim Khan are conversing in Farsi where the film does not contain subtitles, we are able to take a step back and appreciate the pure culture because it is the only option we have. The fact that we cannot understand the discussion emphasizes the foreignity of the setting making us more culturally aware. Comparingly, the book does not include any form of foreign language excluding the informal name pronouns that become ineffectual due to their overuse. Contrary to no subtitles, the use of subtitles consequence and highlight the immersive component of this motion picture. By intertwining the Farsi language with English subtitles we receive the opposing effect that is still just as powerful, where we feel inclusive and are more engaged with the civilization.

Through the extensive use of film elements like sound, acting and mise en scene, the Kite Runner becomes a submerging plunge into the traditions and values of the middle eastern nation, Afghanistan. Explicitly, these cultural differences are exemplified through sound, language and location that are a consistent prompt in the film. Ultimately, when we can achieve a greater understanding of what the purpose of a text is alongside accomplishing it in a clearer, faster way, we can better apply these lessons to our own lives which is what separates the Kite Runner novel and the film.

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1085 Reviews

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Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:18 pm
Mea wrote a review...

Hey there! I'm here for a review on this.

So, essays. We all love to hate them, right? I'm going to assume you wrote this for school, and address some of the problems and limitations with this.

So, the first thing I notice was that your essay is 5 paragraphs long and probably well over 1000 words. This is a delightful example of where school's rigid rules cause more harm than good in your writing. (I'm going to assume that it's five paragraphs long because of the five paragraph essay style that is often required in school. It's supposed to help organize your thought processes and make your essay have a clear beginning, middle, and end.)

Here, though, all it does is crowd your points together into one big mess that's hard to read. That's not really a problem with your writing so much as it is your format. Feel free to break up those large paragraphs into something that resembles sanity - it will help your reader out a lot.

The other main thing I noticed about this was that it doesn't really have a good introduction. An introduction is essential to any essay; it outlines its topic, structure, and thesis, but here I'm only seeing glimmers of that, and it's vague. I had to read the entire essay to be sure of what your thesis is, which I shouldn't need to do. Try to make your introduction more clear and concise - say something like "the film has more of an emotional impact than the book because [reason x, y, and z]."

I will also echo what the previous reviewer said about the argument not quite making sense - for example, in the example you gave about "The red Toyota...", you say that readers can't understand that or feel emotion about it. But I disagree - for me, those words set the tone and clearly show what's going on. You argue that readers can't relate emotionally because they have never experienced these things, but the same is true if they watched the movie. Your problem lies in that you are arguing that words in general cannot convey what a movie can, which is not true for oh-so-many people, instead of arguing that those words, or the way that book was written, doesn't convey the emotion as powerfully.

I hope that all made sense to you, and I'm sorry if it was confusing. If you have any questions, just ask!

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Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:49 pm
Dreamy wrote a review...


This is an interesting piece of writing; I love literature and films alike which is why I was intrigued by the title of the essay but not very much when I read along. For what you have written here suggests that movies are better than books. And the defence that you have produced here is something that is incomparably belongs to the certain field of art.

Let me paraphrase what I mean. The two important things that I saw you make again and again as your defence for why the movie is better than the book are sound and visual, the other defences start out as their own but falls back-in into one of the aforementioned important things. Sound and visual, don’t you think these two solely belongs to the films. Sound and visual is what make movies. Well, if you neglect silent movies and audio books. Which if we don’t neglect, do you mean to say that The Kite Runner would be a better read if we had an audible book of it; or its adaptation into a silent movie? So with all these doubts cropping up all the time, I as a reader only felt confused and contradicted.

You are practically saying that the movie is better than the book because it has sound and very convincing actors, it’s like shaming a painter because he can’t play violin.
In my personal opinion, I’m not for movies adapted from books because most of the time the movie-makers cut-off what I feel important or the beautiful part of the story, even if it’s a simple gesture or a scene. Also, as we read books we create a world that probably runs tangentially; along with the world that author has created for no one can have the exact imagination as the other, but an imagination nonetheless. As for films, we are witnessing the screen-writer’s point of view of the story. There’s nothing for our imagination in there. We are mere audience in both the cases.

So before I keep blabbering on, this was an interesting read and I would really like to see your other works.

Keep writing!


I’ll paraphrase Thoreau here... Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness, give me truth.
— Christopher Johnson McCandless