Fig. 1. Persepolis poster.
Persepolis (2007) is an animated biography directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, it is an adaptation of Satrapis four-part graphic novel which is based on her life. The animation explores Satrapi’s experience growing up in Iran during the revolution and the war, it is largely in black and white making it simple yet very elegant, with scenes that are funny and a joy to watch, to scenes which are moving and filled with emotion.
The animation starts with the story of Marjane, a curious little girl who asks a lot of questions. The story shows her journey growing up in a difficult time, members of her family are imprisoned and later her Uncle is executed. It shows the change in Iran, the religious fundamentalists rise in power and the effect it had on people’s lives in Iran. Marjanes parents send her to Vienna out of fear, while there she makes friends with a group of nihilist teens that cause her quite a bit of confusion. The story focuses on her memories in a poetic fashion, while still introducing political history, for example Marjane recalls her grandmother stuffing her clothes with jasmine so she would smell better.
The story also deals with Marjanes love life, the ups and the downs in almost a comedic fashion. A scene in which Marjane remembers a partner who cheated on her, involves the audience seeing a completely different side of the ex. When you first meet him he appears to be the perfect guy but on recollection of her memory he looks like a terrible partner, even his appearance is altered. This might possibly be stating that love is blind, so when you gaze upon the person you love you see no flaws, it is only after you are outside of the love you can see them for who they really are.
The West at times in the animation is perceived as cruel, people judge Marjane because of her homeland, in one scene she makes a statement that people think that she is a savage because she is from Iran, while the memory of her grandmother is telling her to remember who she is. The animation deals with how people are judged based on their place of birth, it shows how the cultures are vastly different and how confusing it can be for someone who is an outsider, someone who will never feel like they belong.
The animation has a lot of comedy throughout it as well which offers a break from the serious nature of the situation, in one scene Marjane who is now a teenager walks down a dodgy street looking to buy a cassette from some shady-looking men who conceal items in their jackets, it then cuts to her playing air guitar to Iron Maiden. The beginning of the film is also filled with humour as it feels that we are really experiencing it from a child’s perspective, which is a good quality as usually films that are based in politics usually have an adults view whereas this takes more of a childlike approach.
Overall I enjoyed this animation, it had a great style that was simple yet elegant and it told a story which was interesting and engaging. In a way the animation shows that the enduring influence and love from the family is a powerful thing that allows people to remain tenacious. On the same note it also shows that the tides to family and homeland can affect how we as people are perceived, The West at times in the animation comes across as cruel but at the same time it is the place in which Marjane finds her voice and grows as an individual.
Figure 1. Persepolis poster. (2007) From: Persepolis, Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi [Film still] At: http://www.sparehed.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/persepolis-poster-1.jpg