A good movie, like a good novel, is a work of art. It brings a story to the screen, dramatizing events and presenting them to the viewer visually and aurally. What an author attempts to create in the "mind's eye" of the reader is splashed across the big screen, sometimes in a profusion of color, sometimes in subtle shades of brown and gray. Music plays an important role, as well--capturing emotion or creating tone. The movie version of The Kite Runner is beautifully achieved and does indeed inform and enhance readers' understanding of the novel, especially those readers who are unfamiliar with the history and culture of Afghanistan.
The images of Kabul during Amir's childhood capture the the sights and sounds of a teeming city, full of energy and life and noise. The mountains and harsh, rugged landscape are also captured in the film, creating a panoramic view of the country. Images of Baba's beautiful home and wealthy lifestyle contrast sharply with scenes of abject poverty. The many images of colorful kites against the sky--floating, dancing, diving--enhance the reader's understanding of their beauty and the glory of flying them--a central motif in the novel.
When Amir returns to Afghanistan, the movie takes on a decidedly different tone. The images, the film's color palette, and the music all portray and communicate the danger Amir encounters and the terrible sense of foreboding he feels. Watching the Taliban riding through the streets, weapons in hand, enhances readers' understanding of their power and their fanaticism. Their violence becomes especially real when witnessed on the screen; the scene in the stadium is unforgettable in its horror. As a result, the depth of Amir's courage in going back to rescue Sohrab is more fully appreciated.
To watch The Kite Runner greatly enhances reading the novel, for it takes readers into the culture of Afghanistan, past and present, and allows them to live in the setting of story as it unfolds.