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Persepolis

A 2007 French animated film based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi.

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A TRIUMPH in Animation That is Powerful, Inspiring and Yet Funny!

  • Mar 2, 2010
Rating:
+5

What I really appreciate about Foreign cinema is its innate ability to make the simplest of concepts powerful without stooping to “dressing up” gimmicks that Hollywood is so prone to do. Another medium in filmmaking that is seen very differently in Japan, Korea and even the continent of Europe is the animated medium; while most of American filmmakers see animation as a form only suited for kids or the “young at heart” with concepts so formulaic just so they can please the usual movie-going crowd. Other countries see the medium as something very suited for "mature thought-provoking” material that few directors here in the U.S. have even acknowledged. The animated medium here has always been seen as a mere industry while in other countries, they've been seen as a form of artistic expression.
 
Well, my friend @Christy (yes, this person is a true cinema fan) sent me one of the major Indie successes of 2008 with a nomination for best Foreign language feature in the Golden Globes, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and winner of “Best Animated feature” in the New York Critics Choice awards. (How a Pixar movie can beat this at the Oscars is beyond me). Based on the autobiographical graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi of the same name, “PERSEPOLIS” is the story of a young girl who comes of age during a time when the Iranian revolution raged. The film was written and co-directed by Satrapi herself along with Vincent Paronnaud and was filmed in France. I’ll get right to the point; “Persepolis” is a true gem of REAL cinema. 

                     A scene from the film "Persepolis."

                    A scene from the film "Persepolis."
 
The story begins when a present day Satrapi (voiced by Chiara Mastriaonni) who sits in an airport, trying to decide whether she should board the next flight to Iran after spending many years away from her homeland. An airport is a portal to wherever you want to go, including a portal to your memories. Marjane’s thoughts shift to the time when she was a child, when her heroic uncle (Francois Jerosme) teaches her the history of Iran while her liberal parents (voiced by Simon Abkarian and Catherine Deneuve)  are trying to work to affect change. Her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) is someone who had seen it all. Because of the complications in Iran, Marjane is sent to Vienna to live as a teenager. What is surprising is the fact that the Europeans are every bit as intolerant and close-minded as the fundamentalists are at home. After Marjane’s disastrous years, she returns home as she tries to find her home. But things aren’t as easy as they seem. Marjane was sent away for good reason, should she get on that plane?

           A scene from the film "Persepolis."
 
“Persepolis” has a very clever style and is filled with skillful storytelling. Much of the film occurs in flashbacks and mostly animated in black and white. The film manages to preserve the look and feel of a comic book yet, ever remaining faithful to true human emotions that provides the direction a sort of visual malleability that no other animated movie can achieve that dwells on Iranian “folklorian” artwork. The story is seen through Marjane’s eyes; we see her grow up as she begins to idolize her elders, develop her own taste for music and film, become interested in men and sex, grow as a woman and then finally realize her own beliefs. This movie is a “coming of age” tale of the protagonist. 

          A scene from the film "Persepolis."

                            A scene from the film "Persepolis."
 
In the film we see the things that Marjane had experienced in her life and the animation gives the movie some bits of symbolism as we see judgmental old people become snakes as their black robes fill the frame. Yes, the movies brings the repressed ideology that have plagued countries ruled by fundamentalist. Women are supposed to hide under a veil, virgins cannot be executed for a crime and yet they can be deflowered before such an execution, a place where parties are the only diversion yet is outlawed, a place where you cannot even keep company with the opposite sex . Such pretentious ideology impedes progress and depends solely on its citizens to remain illiterate as so the authorities can maintain control; "independent thinking" is banned in this world. We see Marjane’s world and what it meant for her. We see the evils of religious ideologies driven to extremes and the effort for a country to find the right form of government. Movies like this, tend to make me think of the freedom we enjoy and yet oftentimes we take fore granted.
 
I love this movie. It clearly shows the evils of repression that can lead to obsession and misdirection. “Persepolis” is a rare insight into a country that most of us don‘t know anything about. I loved the way the movie maintained its wit and charm despite its very mature subject matter. The writing has shown us that a country’s struggles and one individual’s innermost struggle can parallel one another; after all there is barely any difference between a betrayed love and the hopes of a better tomorrow that leads to fascism. “Persepolis” is a brilliant kind of literary adaptation. It keeps its comic book tone and mood yet it manages to bring its powerful messages across with its brilliant dialogue that just makes it far more important. The filmmakers knew what they were doing when they made this film.
 
So I would highly advise you to refrain judging animated movies as something only for a kid and give “Persepolis” a try. This is no Pixar film, this is definitely one of the most brilliant movies I may have ever seen.
 
Highest Possible Recommendation! [4 ½ + Stars]
 
HYPE LEVEL: Low for a Film of this Quality in the U.S.. Quality Films such as this need to be given the respect it deserves.
 
This review is a Lunch.com exclusive.

 
 
 
A TRIUMPH in Animation That is Powerful, Inspiring and Yet Funny! A TRIUMPH in Animation That is Powerful, Inspiring and Yet Funny! A TRIUMPH in Animation That is Powerful, Inspiring and Yet Funny! A TRIUMPH in Animation That is Powerful, Inspiring and Yet Funny!

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March 07, 2010
This looks rad! Thanks for sharing, Woo! :)
March 07, 2010
I think you'll dig this one, Lady D!
 
March 04, 2010
I've been wanting to see this one for a long time too. I tend to push the ones that I think will always be easy to find to the back of the list, and go for the ones that might not always be available first. I've hand too many 1-copy-only films fall off the list and become unavailable.
March 07, 2010
Karen, this was excellent and I think you would like along with WALTZ WITH BASHIR. Very original!
March 09, 2010
A double feature! If one of them is available on instant play I can get the other in the mail and watch them that way.
 
March 03, 2010
So the English dub cancels out the goodness on this one huh? I'm really digging the art style and the material sounds quite compelling to boot (5 stars besides, wow!) Not really related (other than the fact that the art reminded me to ask you) ever watch the US show Archer? It has its moments. Anyway, great review, absolutely intriguing material my man.
March 07, 2010
There are three reviews here that gave PERSEPOLIS a 5 star rating, bud. This was surprisingly great! I don't think I've seen ARCHER but I'll take a look...
 
March 03, 2010
Ooh I can't wait to watch this! It's true, I don't know much about Iran, and am always willing to watch something that will educate and entertain me at the same time. Can I find it on DVD? Also, what is this Waltz that you speak of?
March 03, 2010
Persepolis is pretty entertaining even with its mature subject matter; It really feels 'real' as long as you steer clear of the english dubbed version. It should be easy to find, my friend. The dvd has been out since late 2009 and is rentable via netflix. We were talking about WALTZ with Bashir which is an animated documentary made in Israel; very original. I reviewed it right here.
 
March 02, 2010
Great review. It's funny, I saw this the first time and was so disappointed. Turns out it was because I watched the English dubbed version. Then I watched the original in French and checked out the special features and I fell in love with it. I need to read all of the graphic novels again and do a write-up on both.
March 02, 2010
Sean, I always avoid the dubbed versions because the mood is so different. Perfect example is the anime BLACK LAGOON; if you use the English language, then it is filled with bad language and crazy banter. But when you use the original language, it makes for a truly intelligent series about existential themes.
 
March 02, 2010
WOW! I'm impressed :-)
March 02, 2010
with me or the movie? ;-) LOL!
March 02, 2010
What do you think? With #1, LOL!
March 02, 2010
The sentence "An airport is a portal to wherever you want to go, including a portal to your memories. " won me over ;-)
March 02, 2010
I knew that line would get you! LOL
 
1
More Persepolis (2007 film) reviews
review by . January 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Animated films are always so interesting, no only because of their often times thrilling visuals, but also because of their ability to intoxicate us in their whimsy. I thought that I knew what a great animated film was, but upon watching "Persepolis" I can officially say that I know. This is one of the best animated films I have ever seen. Emotionally resonant, timely in its narrative, and beautiful in its power. This is indeed a very artistic triumph for …
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Persepolis is so incredibly insightful and perceptive. It showed me a whole new world
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Its French so I loved it. I love the style of art in this film
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William ()
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About this movie

Wiki

A fascinating and wholly unexpected take on Iran’s 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 nation’s 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 Iran’s 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
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Details

Genre: Animation, Biography, Drama, Foreign, History
Release Date: May 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 35min
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
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