Breadwinner, The

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Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 11 (violence, themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Breadwinner, The
  • a review of Breadwinner, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 December 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 9–11 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 11 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Breadwinner, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, violence
Length: 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In a land scorched by the searing, desert sun; invaded by countless foreign armies; and governed by brutal Taliban forces, there lives a young girl called Parvana (voice of Saara Chaudry). Parvana’s father, like the land itself, bears the scars of war. Outwardly, he appears weak and ravaged but inwardly he is strong and wise, having ensured his daughters were educated as though they were sons. While trying to sell some items at the marketplace, a chance encounter with a Taliban soldier sets in motion a series of unfortunate events that will change Parvana’s life forever. Having refused to give his young daughter to the soldier in marriage, Parvana’s father (voice of Ali Badshah) is ruthlessly arrested and sent to prison, leaving his wife and three children to fend for themselves. In a land where women are not allowed outside except in the company of a male family member, where they cannot buy food, set foot in a shop and constantly risk being beaten or killed simply by their presence in society, things look bleak and hopeless. With no other choice, Parvana cuts her hair, dons the clothes of her dead brother and sets out as a boy to find work in order to feed her family. She is not the only one who has had to do this and soon encounters her old friend, Shauzia (voice of Soma Chhaya), who is also pretending to be a boy in order to survive. Fearing for her daughter’s life each time she leaves the house, Parvana’s mother, Fattema (voice of Laara Sadiq), attempts to arrange a marriage for Parvana’s older sister, Soraya (voice of Shaista Latif). Meanwhile, Parvana is determined to find her father and help him come back home. With the country on the brink of war and rapidly descending into chaos, this proves far more difficult than she could ever have imagined. Will Parvana find her father before it is too late? When her family is separated, will they find their way back home and will there be a home to return to?

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

War; Gender inequality and male domination; Religious fanaticism; False imprisonment; Foreign invasion; Arranged marriage; Death; Family separation.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • There is a brief, historical montage showing scenes from Afghanistan’s past, including images of war and invasions, with the cartoon shadows of children running across the foreground.
  • A Taliban soldier threatens Parvana’s father, telling him that he can have him killed.
  • Parvana’s father is shown with only one leg. It is briefly mentioned how he lost it in the war.
  • Parvana’s sister grabs her head scarf and yanks it off as the two girls have an argument.
  • Taliban soldiers barge into Parvana’s house to arrest her father, saying that he has forbidden books and is using them to teach women to read. Parvana’s mother is violently shoved to the ground while her husband is dragged away.
  • Parvana’s mother asks a stranger if he has seen her husband. She shows him a photo and he rips it apart, tossing the pieces aside and yelling that photos are forbidden. He then proceeds to beat her relentlessly with a stick. She is shown bruised and battered from head to toe, including a black eye, scrapes and blood on her face, and bruises and cuts on her feet. It takes quite some time for her injuries to fade.
  • When she ventures out to get water, a boy warns Parvana that the soldiers are coming. He is chased by the men and both he and Parvana are clearly terrified by their presence.
  • Taliban soldiers chase Parvana through the marketplace.
  • Taliban soldiers beat a woman with her children as they are trying to get into the door of their home. The woman tries to explain that there is no man in her home to go to the market but her pleas and explanations fall on deaf ears. The soldiers tell her to stay inside where she belongs.
  • Parvana shoves her sister and tells her that she will look for their father.
  • A prison guard beats and punches Parvana for asking about her father and then sends her away.
  • As Parvana and Shauzia walk home, they come across a tangle of abandoned tanks. They must stay on the road as the area surrounding them is potentially full of landmines.
  • Shauzia collapses from the hard physical labour they are doing.
  • A Taliban soldier shouts at Parvana and Shauzia. He pins Parvana to the ground and she hits him in the head with a brick when she realises that he recognises her. The girls run away but he shoots at them.
  • A man is about to whip Parvana.
  • The man who helped arrange Soraya’s marriage threatens Parvana’s family and roughly forces her mother and sister into his car.
  • This man later threatens Fattema with a knife. She grabs a stick and sets it on fire in order to fight him off and give Soraya the chance to run.
  • A soldier carries Parvana’s father out of his prison cell, telling a guard that he is putting him with the other bodies as he is dead.
  • Parvana watches the guard shoot at the man carrying her father.
  • Fattema grabs the knife a man is thrusting at her, and grips it by the blade, blood running down her hand and wrist.
  • The story of how Parvana’s brother was killed is described. He found a toy in the street and when he picked it up, it exploded.
  • The man carrying Parvana’s father is shot badly in the chest and her father is covered in his blood.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In a story that Parvana tells her little brother, there are villagers who are celebrating a wonderful harvest but then monsters come to eat their trees and steal all their seeds for the next year’s crops. There is a scary, menacing, elephant king with glowing red eyes and spikes for tusks. The villagers are very sad and cry lots of tears, so a boy decides that he will go and save their seeds. He leaves to the sound of thunder and screams. As he travels through the darkness in search of the evil elephant king, he is chased by demons and falls down, down, down until he is awakened by drums. He is relentlessly pursued by the demons, he hides hoping to find courage but instead he encounters an old man who throws him into the belly of a well. In the well he encounters three skeletons that are clutching emeralds and he must bring the old man three emeralds in order to secure his freedom. The skeletons are creepy and when emeralds fill the well so that the boy can get out, the skeletons follow. They take revenge on the old man, swirling around him as they try to take his life just as he took theirs. The boy continues his journey, coming closer to the elephant king who stares down from the mountain with red, glowing, eyes that pierce the darkness. The elephant becomes very angry and bits of the beast fly off as he rushes down the mountain in a fury while a storm begins to rage. The scene is quite intense but the boy eventually succeeds in recovering the seeds.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A crazed Taliban soldier chases Parvana and Shauzia into a tiny cave. He cannot fit but the girls huddle in the back, clearly scared for their lives as the soldier yells at them and fires his gun into the cave. The girls are not harmed but the scene is very intense and may be upsetting to some children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are likely to scare or disturb some children in this age group.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A Taliban soldier asks how old Parvana is, saying that (despite the fact that she is clearly a child) he is just about ready to take a wife.
  • Soraya is to be wed to a man she doesn’t know in order that her family might survive.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Stupid
  • Fool.

In a nutshell

The Breadwinner is an animated drama depicting the plight of an Afghan family. Based on the book by Deborah Ellis, the film provides lots of topics for discussion. While it is portrayed as a cartoon, the film is full of heavy, confronting content that is not suitable for younger viewers. For older children and teens it provides an in-depth look at what life is really like for women in Afghanistan.

The main message from this movie is that despite the fact that women and girls, in Taliban era Afghanistan, are given no voice and no rights, they are just as capable and resourceful (if not more so) as their male counterparts.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Persistence
  • The importance of education
  • Hard work
  • Resourcefulness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Allowing one half of a society to be degraded and disadvantaged.
  • Forbidding girls to leave their homes and not allowing them the opportunity of an education.
  • Arranged marriages and, more specifically, child marriages.
  • Violence against women.
  • The devastating impact and the horrors of war.
  • The dangers of religious fanaticism.