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Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Breadwinner

Nominated for Best Animated Feature, The Breadwinner comes from Cartoon Saloon, which has now snagged three such nominations (also for The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea). The Irish outfit ventures outside that country for this one, though, setting it in Afghanistan, shortly after the time of the takeover by the Taliban and until the U.S. invasion.

The Breadwinner is unstinting in its examination of the brutality of the Taliban regime, particularly towards women and girls. Parvana, a girl of about ten, sits with her father in the marketplace of Kabul, offering reading and writing services. He was a teacher, and has only one leg (he lost the other in the war against the Russians). A former student, now a Taliban thug, is hostile towards him, and when he suggests he might marry Parvana dad gets angry, so the student has his hauled away to jail.

This leaves the household without adult men, and because the Taliban have decided that women can not go outside the home without a male escort, this makes it difficult for Parvana, her mother, her older sister, and her baby brother. She decides to masquerade as a boy and finds it freeing, but she still can't see her father in prison.

Parvana is a storyteller, and during the action of the film there is a parallel tale involving a boy who tries to save his village by defeating the fierce Elephant King.

The Breadwinner was directed by Nora Twomey and based on a novel by Deborah Ellis. One of the executive producers in Angelina Jolie. It uses a cast of Middle-Eastern voice actors for authenticity. It is a movie for young adults and especially precocious small children, as their is realistic violence and scary dream images.

I've liked each of the three Cartoon Saloon films very much. It's nice to see that beyond Pixar and Studio Ghibli (and Disney, of course) there are thriving animation studios all over the world, and that they acknowledged by the Academy.

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