Stories that illustrate cruelty through the eyes of an innocent child are captivating and provoking. In a time when there is a need to stand up for women more than ever, The Breadwinner shows there is still hope for the next generations of young girls, but that a lot of work must be done, and that it is these kinds of stories that increase courage.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this year, The Breadwinner is directed by Irish animator Nora Twomey and based on the children’s book by Canadian writer Deborah Ellis. Set in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2001, the film tells the life of a family under Taliban rule. In a society where women have no rights, Parvana, an 11-year-old girl, tries to save her family from starving after her dad is sent to prison. Women can’t get out of the house without a male companion, so she decides to become a boy and take on all the responsibility – earning money for food and bringing water. She meets another girl who is up to the same trick, and together they navigate the boys’ tough labour market, discovering a whole new world.
The voice of Parvana, played by Saara Chaudry, is soothing and we can hear, as well as see, the character’s bravery. She is not only a breadwinner but a storyteller. To help the family escape from their bitter reality, Parvana is encouraged to tell night-time tales to her little brother. Her narration of these fictions is somewhat reminiscent of the 1995 movie A Little Princess, and it brings back childhood memories that make the viewer feel closer to the young girl’s stories, which might seem from a faraway land. But kids are kids everywhere and that’s what makes this storytelling so magical.
Animated films are certainly not for everyone, but Twomey pushes the boundaries and tells a compelling story that will fascinate diverse audiences, and she doesn’t shy away from showing the strong violence women suffer under the Taliban – this is definitely a movie to watch on the big screen. With an incredible soundtrack by Jeff and Mychael Danna, The Breadwinner transports the viewer to the Middle East and Parvana’s fantastic world of stories.
Simple yet beautifully crafted, The Breadwinner will win our hearts. Expect some tear-shedding. It’s eye-opening.
The Breadwinner is released nationwide on 25th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Breadwinner here: