Saturday, February 09, 2008


I recently saw the powerful, Oscar nominated animated feature, "Persepolis" (98 minutes) at the Loft Theater in Tucson. Persepolis is definitely a love project. Marjane Satrapi, along with co-director Vincent Paronnaud, adapted her graphic novels based on her life story. "Persepolis," was painstakingly drawn the old fashion way with pencil and ink to create more expression in the characters. It is done in (mostly) black and white, two-dimensional animation. But there is nothing black and white or two-dimensional about this story of an Iranian girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution.

The movie begins with the fall of the Shah. Often, when we think of that regime, we think of the tyranny of the Shah and all the people he executed. But at this time, Iran was also very modern and westernized. Many Iranians enjoyed some degree of personal freedom. Eventually that freedom is completely taken away by the religious extremists. We experience this world through the eyes of the precocious Marjane - a well drawn character with her own weaknesses and childish perspectives. Along with Marjane, we get a history lesson about Iran and the Islamic Revolution from her father and uncle. Imaginative (and sometimes humorous) visuals add context to their narration. Young Marjane learns some hard lessons as the uncle she idealizes is imprisoned for fighting for freedom. Teenage Marjane must cover her hair and hide her love of Punk from the "social guardians". When she speaks out, her parents fear for her life and send her away to school in Austria. In this strange new country, she must deal with the challenges of becoming an adult, culture shock, and prejudice. Marjane becomes homesick for an Iran that is no long there.

Through this poignant and often hilarious film, writer/co-director Marjane Satrapi hopes to create understanding of what the Iranian people have undergone (see her statement below) and ensure that those who fought and died for freedom are not forgotten.

OSCAR UPDATE: Persepolis, written and directed by
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. was nominated for Best Animated Feature.

Movie Blessings,
Jana Segal
Background from official website:

Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood (Pantheon, 2003, English version) and Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return (Pantheon, 2004, English version) won widespread acclaim in France, now her home, and around the world. Now, she has co-directed, with Vincent Paronnaud, the animated film version of her memoir.

The title PERSEPOLIS comes from the Persian capital founded in the 6th century BC by Darius I, later destroyed by Alexander the Great. It’s a reminder that there’s an old and grand civilization, besieged by waves of invaders but carrying on through milennia, that is much deeper and more complex than the current-day view of Iran as a monoculture of fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.

“I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists,” Satrapi says. “I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various repressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.”


The Daily Crumb said...

wow :D another must see.

Jana Segal said...

Update on director Marjane Satrapi: - After 2007's animated memoir Persepolis, director Marjane Satrapi disappeared off the American film map, despite having made two more films, both rather well-received. The Sundance selection The Voices, Satrapi's first English-language film, will hopefully have a chance at another American release this year. A horror-comedy about a factory worker (Ryan Reynolds) who finds himself taking advice from his evil cat and benevolent dog after he is implicated in a co-worker's murder.