The Kite Runner is a novel by Khaled Hosseini first published in 2003. It has then made it to the silver screen in 2007 carrying the same title. The story is about two Afghan boys Amir and Hassan, growing up together and having a good but somewhat conflicting relationship. A horrific event one day leads to a gap between the boys and ultimately causes their friendship to end. Years after, Amir, the main protagonist, would be contacted by Rahim Khan, a close family friend in America and would offer Amir “a way to be good again.” Amir then embarks on a journey to face his guilt by saving Sohrab, Hassan’s orphaned son, from the hands of the Taliban. The movie adaptation stays close with the plot of the book, only changing and not including some parts that do not really affect the outcome of the plot. This paper would cite the slight differences of the movie from the book.
The first thing that I noticed was the removal of Ali and Hassan’s physical defects. In the book, Ali’s lower facial muscles were paralyzed while Hassan had a cleft lip. Ali, too, did not have much presence in the movie than in the book despite losing his paralysis in the movie. The missing cleft lip of Hassan resulted into some changes. In the movie, Baba’s (Amir’s father) gift to Hassan was a kite of his choice. In the book, Baba’s gift to Hassan was having his cleft lip repaired by a surgeon.
To retain the appeal of realism to movie goers, some elements present in the book were not included in the movie. For instance, the break in narration when Amir and Hassan had their dreams was also cut from the movie version because its inclusion (as well as others) would make the movie too long. The chapter eight of the book, which narrates Amir and Baba’s journey to Jalalabad, was also not included in the film as Amir’s carsickness would be revealed in this scene if it were to be included in the movie. Although not that important, another thing in the book which is not present in the film is the gift of Assef, the antagonist of the story, to Amir. In the book, Assef gave Mein Kampf, an autobiography of Hitler, to Amir in his party. Perhaps, inclusion of the infamous book by a mass murderer would stir some added issues to this already controversial film.
Another major difference of the movie from the book is the time difference, at least with respect to Amir’s age when they left Afghanistan. In the book, he was already eighteen when they left, but in the movie, Amir’s appearance suggests that not much time has passed since the opening scene. This disparity in time prompted the director to apply some more changes. In the movie, Amir was already graduating in college when the scene moves to America; in the book, Amir has yet to finish high school.
Some other important issues missing in the movie are the issues of sterility of Soraya, Amir’s wife, or Amir, or maybe even both of them. Another is the suicide attempt of Sohrab near the end upon hearing that he may have to go to an orphanage again in order to go to America with Amir. I somehow feel that these are important issues that should have been included in the movie even if it would make the movie thirty minutes longer, but in the end, even if they were not mentioned in the film, it would not have made much difference to the conclusion of the film.
There are books that, when made into a film, lose some major points in the plot. The Kite Runner is not one of them. The movie sticks closely to the plot and has not added nor excluded parts that would have drastically changed the story line. Yet, even with that in mind, I would still prefer the book because sometimes, details are what make books interesting for me. Excluding some details have not lost the essence of the book, but the book having more details definitely appeals to me more.
Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books.