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Persepolis is the poignant story of a young girl coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine-year-old Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power — forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the "social guardians" and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable. As she gets older, Marjane's boldness causes her parents to worry over her continued safety. And so, at age fourteen, they make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager. In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Over time, she gains acceptance, and even experien
A fascinating and wholly unexpected take on Irans Islamic revolution beginning in the 1970s, Persepolis is an enthralling, animated feature about a spirited young woman who spends her life trying to deal with the consequences of her nations history. Based on an autobiographical comic book by Marjane Satrapi, the story concerns Marji (voiced as a teenager and woman by Chiara Mastroianni), whose natural fire and precociousness are slowly dampened by the rise of religious extremists. Marji grieves over the imprisonment and execution of a beloved uncle, then begrudgingly adapts to ever-tightening rules about dress, social mores, education for women, and expectations about marriage and divorce. Along the way, her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) and mother (Catherine Deneuve) help keep Marji grounded during her rebellious teens and encourage her to find life beyond Irans borders, a decision that proves both a blessing and curse. An unique window onto a crucial chapter of 20th century history, Persepolis is graphically engaging with its black-and-white, bold lines and feeling of repressed energy, fit to burst. The emotional content is so strong that after awhile, one almost forgets the film is a cartoon. Satrapi co-wrote the screenplay and co-directed the film along with animator Vincent Paronnaud. --Tom Keogh
Stills from Persepolis (click for larger image)
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If you have any friends who think they might enjoy living under a theocracy, show this to them.
The default language is French, so you'll have to go to the language settings if you want to hear it in English. Most of the film is black & white.
-The Hidden Side of Persepolis (French w/ English subtitles) - details on the animation, sounds, voice acting (30 minutes)
-Behind-the-scenes of Persepolis (8:30)
-Cannes Press Conference Q&A (French w/ English subtitles) - (29 min)
-Selected Scene Commentaries - Marjane Satrapi on "Opening Scene." Chiara Mastroianni on "Eye of the Tiger." Vincent Paronnaud on "Vienna." (3 + 1:45 + 1:22)
-Animated Scene Comparisons - some instances where the final film was changed from the storyboards - (10:40)
The animation is unlike anything you are likely to have seen. It matches the expressive simplicity of the graphic novels -- but has a vitality and wit that is uniquely cinematic. It is another reminder that the possibilities of creative storytelling with animation are far from exhausted by the more mainstream approaches of Disney and Dreamworks, or even the wide ranging styles of Japanese Anime.
One of the most touching elements of the story is its tribute to the strength and support of her parents. While sometimes they are exasperated by her behavior they are never less than supportive. Her grandmother, who understands her best, encourages her to hold on to her passion and spunk, but be wise in its expression. A delightful and exciting work -- that is timely in its reminder that our perception of life in other countries should not be dictated exclusively by the stories that appear in the mainstream media. This story, also, does not pretend to capture everything there is to know about Iran -- since it is merely the perspective of one young woman, but a perceptive and intelligent and thoughtful perspective. Highly recommended.
I used this in class with high school sophomores who had read only Persepolis 1 and were not terribly mature. The movie worked well with them because we had explained a lot of context in class. There is a little profanity in one or two spots, but I don't personally think that's a problem.