Review of The Swallows of Kabul (2019)

Moving picture, 81 minutes

Seen in 2020.

Atiq, warden of a women’s prison in 1998 Kabul, is losing his hope to the Taliban and his wife to cancer. Meanwhile, the artist Zunaira has cabin fever listening to “Burka Blue” while her progressive husband lifts a stone and throws it at the condemned for reasons he does not understand.

The water-colour scenery is pretty, but the animation budget is over-extended, which is wasn’t in the more cartoonish The Breadwinner (2017). Several shots are supposed to look like live-action slow motion but simply use far fewer drawings per second, and the nicely textured colour fills strobe on motion, evidently being composited on a frame-by-frame basis.

The tragic story is not bad, but no story about a few days in the lives of two married couples is going to capture more than a tiny facet of the modern history of Afghanistan.

moving picture animation fiction