I probably could have waited to watch the movie The Kite Runner on Netflix, but I thought that since the movie is set in Afghanistan, the expansiveness of the mountains would make the price tag of watching it on the big screen worth it. I wasn't wrong, but there weren't many wide angle shots. That was disappointing. However, that was the only disappointment.
The story follows a young man who must return to his native land to redeem himself for sins he committed as a young boy in Kabul.
The Kite Runner is a story of friendship, ethnic identity, class, betrayal, and the family bond. Right from the start I enjoyed the movie. The opening credits are admirable for their stylish blending of English script into Afghan Persian or Dari or Pashto or whatever it was. I really, really appreciated that. The movie tells a very good story that is brilliantly played by the actors entrusted with the roles, and there are several emotionally poignant moments. The movie tugs at the heart like the strings that send the kites careening across the sky. There are no loose ends in this movie, so if you like a tidy, well-told story with superb acting and a happy ending that is not cloying - this is a movie well worth seeing.
I do plan to read the book even though I know how the story goes. Books are usually far better than their adaptations. Watching the movie based on the book is a bit like watching the sequel of a movie first. If the sequel is good, you can safely bet the original is even better. Something always gets lost in translation.
For further reading, I recommend:
1) Scents & Sensibility from The Atlantic, Dec. 2007 - It tells the story of a woman who set up a thriving soap business in Afghanistan. The cooperative enterprise helps the Afghan people profit from their native plants without resorting to the poppy trade.
2) The Outsiders: Afghanistan's Hazara from The National Geographic, Feb. 2008 - This one presents the plight of the Hazara people, a group persecuted in Afghanistan for not being Pashtun and not practicing the right religion. The Hazara figure prominently in the movie.
If you live in or near Seattle or are planning to be there, I found what looks to be a very good place to eat Afghan food. It's called Kabul, and the menu is online. I already know what I'm ordering: ash, qorma-i sabzi, bara kebab, and firni - a custard flavored with cardamom and rosewater and topped with ground pistachios. YUM.