Saturday, April 5, 2008


DAN - Persepolis is a French animated feature co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film is an autobiographical account of Satrapi’s turbulent life as a young Iranian girl. Satrapi’s world is drastically changed by the Islamic revolution in the late 1970s, and she is forced to mature at an early age.

Although I knew next to nothing about Iran prior to seeing this film, I found no difficulty in involving myself with the story. Persepolis presents the country’s recent history from a first-hand perspective, which I suppose made it easier to take in. The rise and fall of Shahs and Ayatollahs didn’t become a confusing distraction.

The movie’s primarily black and white animation style was simple, yet strikingly effective. Founded on Satrapi’s own drawings, the film is full of images that are beautiful in their use of contrast, composition, and movement. While watching, I often thought, “I want to animate something like this. It wouldn’t be too hard.” I’m not sure how true that is, but the film was inspiring nonetheless.

This version of the film was in the original French with English subtitles, and I recommend it. There’s something enchanting about the French language; even without the subtitles, this movie would be a treat. In my opinion, dubbing should always be avoided.

The score by Olivier Bernet works with the film’s visuals and themes, though at times it sounds synthesized. Some musical cues reminded me of Koji Kondo’s Ocarina of Time soundtrack, which has a certain nostalgic appeal for me.

Persepolis conveys elements of humor, despair, loneliness, and love while simultaneously telling a personal story that is relevant worldwide. This film reminded me that even though people live in a wide variety of strange cultures, we are not entirely different.

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