Still a runner

Issue section: 

I think Colin Wilson was a little too harsh in his review of The Kite Runner (Culture, Socialist Review, January 2008).

Colin wrote that the first half of the film - the nostalgic depiction of boyhood - "is pretty satisfying" but it is "a disgraceful omission" that the film fails to address the politics of why Afghanistan has been at war for 30 years.

It is true that the cartoon-like depiction of the Taliban is the film's weakest point and that the film does not really address Afghan politics. Had it managed to weave such a political narrative into the story, it would have been a stunning (not to say miraculous) addition to the pantheon of film.

As it is, The Kite Runner goes beyond nostalgia and concentrates on the themes of the relationship between fathers and sons, loyalty and betrayal, in a very effective way. The film and the book before it have reached a mass audience telling a story that humanises Afghan people. The Afghan love of kite flying was hardly front page news.

None of this makes The Kite Runner a fantastic film as opposed to a decent and worthwhile one. But I do think it is worth criticising the movie that was made rather than one which was not. When Colin says that we need information and a political understanding of Afghanistan, I agree. But I don't think The Kite Runner is a barrier to the development of that understanding and for some viewers might be a first step towards it.

Ed Mynott