French directors Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec present the bestseller of Yasmina Khadra's "The Swallows of Kabul" (2002) in a language of animation. The book lovers may notice that the film's screenwriters, Sébastien Tavel and Patricia Mortagne, have allowed themselves to make some changes, such as attributing the events that took place in 2001 in the book to 1998. Anyway, in my opinion, the dramatic nature of the book has been successfully maintained and expressed in the work.    It tells a story of two drastically different couples who live under the Taliban regime in the Afghan ruined capital Kabul. Historian Mohsen (by Swann Arlaud) and painter Zunaira (by Zita Hanrot) are young and in love. Zunaira is a brave artist who has never lost her hope that one day she will not have to wear a blue burqa, that one day she'll have freedom to go to the cinema and library with her lover and not be subjected to harsh punishment for wearing white shoes in Kabul, and that it'll be possible again to talk in a language of art, freedom and love.     Mohsen, no matter how much he tries to oppose the new reality, is gradually experiencing serious changes dictated by public sentiment. The scene of his transformation is the focal point of the film. Seeing people executing a woman's death sentence with stones at Molla's call, Mohsen, becoming a part of that crowd, throws his stone and thereby becomes "different".   They are opposed by another pair - prisoner Atiq (by Simon Abkarian) and his ailing wife Mussarat (by Hiam Abbass). After going through the devastating reality of war and now being the women's prisoner, Atiq seems to be in prison at his home as well. He is tormented by a sense of guilt towards his wife, because all his attempts to save her are useless. Mussarat, as a woman who is infinitely in love with her husband, demands nothing in return and even in her death sees the opportunity to change her husband for the better, is the most influential character in the film.   The line of secondary, accompanying character is played by a "madman", who constantly insists that he will leave Kabul. This character's voice, by the way, belongs to the father of director Zabou Breitman, Jean-Claude Deret. The plot line of a former mullah is more related to Atiq. In every difficult situation, he fosters the development of Atiq's character with his advice.   By fate, the stories of these two couples intertwine, leading to destruction and freedom at the same time.   I will be extremely careful not to draw plot lines for those who have not seen the film yet. Zunaira "took a plane to Hollywood", which leads to Atiq's transformation. Eventually, the hopeless couple of Atiq and Mussarat finds its salvation in rescuing the young girl. The ending of the film is quite heavy, but after watching it you'll find yourself wrapped in a blanket of hope and the feeling that everything is yet to come.     The film uses 2D watercolor animation, which with its velvet counteracts the harsh war reality and softens it as much as possible. Director Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec has already had experience working with similar techniques as she has been involved in the creation of the Oscar-nominated "Ernest and Celestine" French-Belgian animation film.   This is the fifth feature film in the career of her co-director, Zabou Breitman. It was her initiative to record the characters during live performances, not by putting actors in front of static microphones. This approach has been extremely sincere in its sound and rhythm of play, but made the work of other states' producers a little bit complicated in case of making dubbing.   The film uses interesting tools to make people a part of the story, such as the scene where the audience is given the opportunity to view the world through the female burqa. The book's several-page scenes are quite vividly portrayed over a short period of time, such as Mohsen's  memory of going to the cinema, which shines like a light swoop and disappears into the ruins of a cinema.   It's not the first time for a war theme to be presented in animation form. As we explore filmmaking history, it becomes clear that animation is, in this case, a tool to generalize and distance the seemingly unacceptable and difficult things of our reality. So sometimes we need to speak about the most difficult topics in the simplest way.   This excuse has always been given by the filmmakers, who presented war realities in their animations in one way or another. For example, the  director of the first animated documentary, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman with his autobiographical "Waltz with Bashir", an Iranian-born filmmaker Marjane Satrapi with her "Persepolis" animation film about post-revolutionary Iran, Norwegian director Mats Grorud with the animated feature film "The Tower" depicting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with its stop-motion technique, Dennis Do with his "Funan", a story about the Cambodian revolution of 1975. The examples are many, the animation techniques used are different, and the messages are extremely important.   Summing up, "The Swallows of Kabul" has already been screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and was included in the Cannes Film Festival's "Un Certain Regard" program, and you will be able to watch it in Yerevan at ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival this October.     Anna Danielyan