The Breadwinner is set in Afghanistan, in 2001, but there’s a less than pleasant odyssey coming up for Parvana (Saara Chaudry), as the Taliban are in charge, and there are many threats to kill each other being made by these moronic hot-heads.
In this place where women aren’t allowed to go out on their own, because it’s a horrendously repressive country, her father, who has lost a leg, is taken to prison for being an alleged enemy to Islam, but you know it’s because those taking him are evil bastards, but people do just disappear in a country like this. The violence dished out on a woman – even though this is done to her just off-screen – is equally shocking.
In addition, imagine if you could only go to the shops if you were a man, or if were a woman in the presence of a male relative. And then the only male was no longer available, so you can’t evn buy food? You really want to grab hold of these utter shits in that backwards regime and tear them a new one.
Hence, Parvana cuts her hair into a boyish bob, in a bid to head out in disguise, but will it work? It better had do, or the whole family will starve!
I’ve since learned this is a cultural practice known as “Bacha posh”, and is something carried out by a lot of families.
While the main story is shown, there are brief interludes as Parvana tells her own made-up tale about an evil Elephant King, and these segments look like they’re put together from some fantastic stop-motion animation, but it’s actually CGI, which makes the overall effect even more clever.
The Breadwinner is very accessible, even if you think the premise might not suit, and it’s also a film that children should be allowed to see in order to learn something about the way things are over there. As a 12-cert, they would have been able to see it in the cinema, and in the home, it’s no different.
As an aside, Parvana starts the film by discussing the Silk Road with her father which, as I post this, is the topic of a four-part ITV documentary series with Joanna Lumley as the travels its length. It’s a fascinating programme, too.
Regular readers will know I rarely go for animated movies, as they’re usually throwaway junk for children, but Kubo and the Two Strings was quite wonderful, and this is also something very different from the norm and certainly stirs the emotions. In fact, like Kubo, I think this also could make my Top 10 films of the year!
The film is presented in the theatrical 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and it looks as crisp and clear as you’d expect from a modern movie, bringing the fantastic animation to the screen.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and is mostly a dialogue piece, but the tension still draws you in.
The extras are as follows:
- The Breadwinner: Behind the Scenes Featurette (28:29): Split into three sections, this mixes clips from the fil with chat from the cast and crew, as well experiences from those who lived there around that time.
- Film introduction with director Nora Twomey and Executive Producer Angeline Jolie (0:36): Very brief indeed, and I think it would’ve been good just to place this in front of the movie itself, rather than a separate piece.
- Theatrical trailer (1:55): In the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. If you want to avoid any sort of spoilers, watch the film first.
- Audio commentary: with Nora Twomey, Storyworld director Jeremy Purcell, animation director Fabian Erlinghauser and art director Ciaran Duffy.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The main menu features clips from the film to a piece of the score. Subtitles are in English only and there’s the bog-standard 12 chapters, although I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes, so that would make 19 by my book. Annoyingly, there are trailers BEFORE the main menu. NO! STOP!
Running time: 94 minutes
Released: September 24th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Nora Twomey
Producers: Anthony Leo, Tomm Moore, Andrew Rosen, Paul Young
Screenplay: Anita Doron
Novel: Deborah Ellis
Music: Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna
Parvana: Saara Chaudry
Shauzia: Soma Bhatia
Idrees / Sulayman: Noorin Gulamgaus
Fattema / Old Woman: Laara Sadiq
Nurullah / Talib Security Man: Ali Badshah
Soraya: Shaista Latif
Sorceress / Woman in Courtyard: Kanza Feris
Razaq: Kawa Ada
Optician / Kiln Owner / Crowd Voices: Kane Mahon Darya / Fruit Juice Vendor / Jail Warden / Various: Ali Kazmi
Megaphone / Market Seller: Mran Volkhard
Stall Seller / Fruit Seller / Guard Man on Bike / Teenage Boy #2: Reza Sholeh
Zaki: Lily Erlinghauser, Finn Jackson Parle, Patrick McGrath
Prison Gatekeeper: Wamiq Furoghudin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.