The Kite Runner

See it.

I’m just back from a screening of The Kite Runner, courtesy of the Huffington Post. I’m told the book is even better and even more harrowing, but the film is plenty good enough (and plenty harrowing enough) to be getting along with. Beautifully written, beautifully acted, and spectacularly photographed. See it. (Who knew that kite-flying was a contact sport?)

From a commercial perspective, the political timing of the film wasn’t ideal. In its unblinking depiction of the disgusting viciousness of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, The Kite Runner could have been the Casablanca of the Global War on IslamoFascismoTerrorismo Nastitude. That’s not the message most likely to resonate with the moviegoing public right now; the people who would otherwise like to hear it won’t want to be reminded of the way the Bush Administration took its eye off the ball in Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban resurgence, in order to invade and occupy Iraq.

The good news is that, stripped of its propaganda value, the movie stands up perfectly well on the timeless themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and cowardice.

Footnote Don’t let the PG-13 rating fool you; The Kite Runner is an extremely rough ride, and you shouldn’t take your 14-year-old to see it unless you want to spend a very long time afterwards discussing the horrible forms man’s inhumanity to man can take.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com