Film & DVD Review: Persepolis

  • Directors – Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi
  • France / USA,
  • 2007
  • 95 minsSweden:7 / Switzerland:10 (canton of Geneva) / Germany:12 / Finland:K-11 / Ireland:12A / Netherlands:6 / France:U / Brazil:12 / UK: 12A / Switzerland:10 (canton of Vaud) / Singapore:PG / Taiwan:R-12 / Canada:14A / USA:PG-13 / Argentina:Atp

    Reviewed by Anna Erickson

    Told through flashback the story begins with the 9 year old Marjane growing up in a politically changing Iran. She resembles teenagers everywhere with her love of western culture which includes music (Iron Maiden – much cooler then her once favourite, now ‘lame’, Bee Gees), Nike trainers and Bruce Lee.

    Her parents, intelligent and themselves westernised, although politically minded, try to stay under the radar as much as possible. With war as a backdrop involving people she knows being arrested and murdered, however, Marjane finds a dictatorial life difficult. She takes pleasure in defying her teachers. This eventually leads to her parents sending her to a school in Austria where they think she will be safer.

    Over the next few years Marjane constantly changes address due to various problems, gets in with the ‘rebel’ crowd at school and goes through the trials of love. This leads to her becoming homeless and almost dying through the effects of living on the streets. She decides to return to Iran thinking it will solve all her problems only to find that she once again feels like she doesn’t belong and becomes deeply depressed. This depression only ends when she attempts to kill herself and is told that it isn’t her time to die yet. When she wakes is my personal favourite moment of the film. She sings a rendition of Eye of the Tiger as she effectively sorts out her life and enrols in Art School. There she falls in love again and through the oppressed state marries only to divorce three years later. She makes the heartbreaking decision to leave Iran for France.

    Persepolis is based on the autobiographical graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. First published in France in 2000 they where then made into this charming film and previewed at the Sundance film festival in 2007. The animated film is drawn simply in black and white reminiscient of the graphic novels, conveying a naivety which is in strong juxtaposition with the often harsh realities of war, or quite simply growing up. You can understand why the Iranian government disapproved of the film but the history of Iran is simply explained (I felt like I learned something) and the humour in the film lightens the mood and makes you warm to the heroine considerably. The Grandmother is often her helping hand throughout her journey and her honest and humorous remarks are some of the best throughout the film. She also teaches Marjane some important lessons, lessons we could all be reminded of occasionally.

    Honestly, I went into the theatre expecting to be bored but I was surprised at how human the story was and how much I could relate to it. Definitely a must see.

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