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Love in a time of tyranny: this stunning animation, directed by the two-woman team of Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, chronicles life under the Taliban and bravely doesn’t shy away from either brutality or hope.
In the sweltering summer of 1998, young lovers Mohsen and Zunaira try to covertly experience passion in spite of the oppressive presence of the ruling Taliban that affects even the most private aspects of life. Simultaneously, older couple Atiq and Mussarat are dealing with a threat even more deadly than fundamentalism.
Produced by Les Armateurs, the French creative team behind such animated gems as The Triplets of Belleville and Ernest & Celestine, this adaptation of the 2002 novel by Yasmina Khadra (the pen name of Algerian author Mohammad Moulesshoul) is suffused with unflinching yet compassionate imagery. Captured directly from the movements of the voice actors in a delicate and evocative watercolour style, what could have been a grim experience in other hands is elevated into visual poetry. When all hope appears lost, there is still the chance to be courageous.
The very tenderness of the film’s romantic relationships lies in sharp contrast to the violence of lives and loves forever changed by the horrors of war. While The Swallows of Kabul does not seek to soften these blows, it instead draws the audience in, like moths to a flame, thanks to its swathes of gentle watercolour and sensitive insights into tragedies many of us could never comprehend.
“One of the many beauties of The Swallows of Kabul is that it portrays every central character as a complex human being capable of change. A simple rant against Taliban evils would be easy and forgettable. This film threads an undying hope for the future through every shade of its tragedy and sacrifice.” RogerEbert.com
"Breitman’s and Gobbé Mévellec’s adaptation is a beautifully animated journey of harrowing complexity." Malta Today