Sunday, October 9, 2011


By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
(96 min, 2007)
Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writers: Marjane Satrapi (comic), Vincent Paronnaud (scenario)
Stars: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve and Gena Rowlands

Road to maturity

“You'll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it's because they're stupid. Don't react to their cruelty. There's nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself. “

“Persepolis” is a 2007 French animated film based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The film uses same style as the novel – black and white animation, although it has some scenes shown in color.

In 1970s Iran, Marjane 'Marji' Statrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family of a long dream being fulfilled of the hated Shah's defeat in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However as Marji grows up, she witnesses first hand how the new Iran, now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, has become a repressive tyranny on its own. With Marji dangerously refusing to remain silent at this injustice, her parents send her abroad to Vienna to study for a better life.

The movie is a detailed story of a girl, who preserves her strength during the time of turmoil and chaos. Marjane is first shown to us as a curious little girl, than a rebellious teen who listens to punk music, wears sneakers and lipstick. She is a teenager like everyone else, except she lives in the country where citizens and their civil rights are suppressed by the government. After the revolution Marjane is forced to hide her hair under the veil and dress modestly, while men are free to do whatever they want. She continues to be a rebel and soon her parents decide it is safer for her to leave the country, where Marjane will have to deal with herself and life all by herself.

Marjane is no saint – the movie portrays her with all her imperfections – she often acts careless and immature, she acts on a whim and makes stupid decisions. In other words – she is an ordinary person, but with extraordinary spirit. Her teenage years are filled with usual problems of the young people – falling in love with the wrong boy, visits at therapists, running away from home, having outsiders for friends, pretending to be someone else. It is in the time of confusion and loneliness when Marjane denies her nationality, because she is ashamed of the state her country is in. But soon after she realizes how wrong her behavior was and that she has nothing to be ashamed of.

Although the events which happened in her country made Marjane into who she is and gave her incredible strength and resilience, the usual teenage problems, the transformation from girl into a woman had just as big of part in her personality's development. But the key ingredient to why Marjane survives all the things that happen to her and goes through life with a smile on her face and bravery is her family – her loving parents, her uncle who was executed by the regime and her wonderful grandmother, who played the biggest part in making Marjane into the person she is now. It is because of her grandmother that the girl knows no matter what happens, something can always change for the better and she needs to keep fighting and hoping every day.

Marjane is dubbed, both in English and French by Chiara Mastroianni and her mother in real life Catherine Deneuve provides the voice for her mother in the movie. In English dubbing you also get to hear Sean Penn and Iggy Pop. The animation is quite simply the most enchanting I've ever seen, although being in black and white and showing scaring images at times, it remains playful and whimsical. The music goes with images perfectly and creates amazing atmosphere, especially because of some of the creative employment of well known songs.

I don't watch animated movies often, but this is definitely not Disney fairytale – it's a beautiful, mature story of growing up and finding out who we really are. It's a story of standing up for one's beliefs, being proud and true to oneself. I bet everyone of you can see a bit of yourself in Marjane. Although the movie deals with serious issues and shows Iran as a dangerous place there is a plenty of humor in it, including few wonderful sequences which won't escape your thoughts for a long time. But the best part of the movie is the warmth of the story and the heroine which radiates from the screen.


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