2009-06-22 14:47

What it’s about:

Based on the hugely successful autobiographical graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is a poignant coming-of-age animated film. The story traces Marjane's journey into adulthood in 1970s Iran, set against the violent Islamic Revolution.

What we thought:

Persepolis has been released in SA at just the right time. With the current political instability in Iran, the story of the 1970s Islamic Revolution is particularly relevant at the moment. Anyone familiar with the original graphic novels will love this vibrant, brave reinterpretation.

Watching the movie feels like sitting in on a beautifully animated history lesson - the story of Marjane's family is inextricably linked to the political turmoil which surrounds them. Persepolis opens with Marjane's parents celebrating the downfall of the unpopular Shah. It quickly becomes apparent that the new Iran, ruled by extremist Islamic fundamentalists, will be even more dangerous and tyrannical than before.

When her communist uncle is executed for his political beliefs and women are forced to wear the hijab, Marjane rebels by speaking out at every opportunity and listening to punk music, which has been banned. One of the best sequences in the film shows Marjane alone in her room playing air-guitar to Iron Maiden, while soldiers in a far-off field are blown up by landmines. A scene like this would be jarring if this were a live-action movie, but the animated medium allows the two ideas to merge seamlessly.

The animation style is playful and whimsical, yet simple and realistic. The story is mostly told in austere black and whites, apart from a colourful opening sequence. Its monochromatic starkness puts emphasis on the beautiful line-work by the talented French artist Vincent Paronnaud. Paronnaud's renditions of Marjane and her family are compassionate and powerful - emotion and humour lurk behind every frame. The stylised realism also ensures that this is a truly universal story - Marjane's story of strife, oppression and disillusionment is playing out in reality nearly 40 years later, and her journey will also strike a chord with South Africans. Gender equality, exile and war are all looked at through the kaleidoscopic lens of Marjane's and Paronnaud's quirky animation.

Persepolis has caused a huge stir with the Iranian government, who have done everything in their power to suppress the film… just one more reason to go and watch it for yourself.

Through partaking of Marjane's story, crying and laughing along with her  we are able to, in some way, overthrow the hold of the terrifying political processes which have turned her into a refugee from the country of her birth. As Marjane herself says, "As long as you're alive you can protest and shout, yet laughter is the most subversive weapon of all".

A poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution.

tazo 2009/06/23 4:40 PM
"Persepolis has been released in SA at just the right time"..what time would that be? In time for another complete destruction of a sovereign nation? Just one more reason to give this propaganda BS a miss, thanks.
chris 2009/06/23 4:57 PM
tazo, please dont be stupid.... This is a great movie, its objective and its a story for godness sake! It tells the story of an oppressive government, what the hell is your problem. Have you even seen it? No
TTM 2009/06/23 6:49 PM
Having read the graphic novels, I was quite keen to see this movie. Just a pity it has only now come to our shores, almost two years after it has been released overseas. *sigh*. Also, "propaganda BS"? Huh? Award for the most bizarre rant of the day goes to tazo.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.