Persepolis Vincent Parronaud and Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis Vincent Parronaud and Marjane Satrapi
Having rejected offers from various studios to adapt her graphic novels, author Marjane Satrapi tells the story on her own terms, along with co-director Paronnaud, himself an acclaimed French cartoonist. Combining her two books, Persepolis is Satrapi’s autobiographical account of growing up in late ’70s Iran, coming to even more foreign territory in Austria for her education and returning to her homeland to find a culture transformed by conservative religious and political forces. The DVD, which offers both the original French and English dubs, is a beautifully simple telling that retains the novel’s emotional resonance while bringing it to life in this radically different medium. Satrapi truly took full control of the project, insisting that every frame be hand drawn and inked on paper (a process that hasn’t been used, even in France, in at least 20 years). A French "making of” featurette shows her constantly pantomiming exactly what she wants to her team of attentive artists. She retains a remarkably unselfconscious vision of the project — able to portray unflattering moments in her own life — to the point where she refers to the Marjane character almost as a different person. The Tehran of the film is consciously universalised as a modern city; it’s the foreign (to her) Western culture of Europe that’s treated as alien and strange, and the end result is deeply affecting. As Marjane, Chiara Mastroianni dubs both the English and French versions, as does Catherine Deneuve as her mother. Joining them on the English version are Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands and Iggy Pop. A couple of English-only featurettes highlight the star power, with none of the depth of insight of the French made offerings. A Cannes film festival press conferences, animation comparisons and select scene commentaries round out the special features. (Asphodel)