Published Sep 26, 2007Adapted from filmmaker Marjane Satrapis graphic novel, Persepolis is her beautiful, animated coming-of-age tale. The story begins in Iran during the final days of the Shahs corrupt and oppressive regime. Little Marjanes intellectual parents and their friends are filled with hope about the countrys change while the girl is caught up in revolutionary fervour. This euphoria is short-lived, however, as the elected Islamic regime becomes increasingly repressive and the subsequent war with Iraq begins to devastate the country.
As Marjane ages, she continues to speak her mind about her political beliefs and starts to embrace a punk/metal aesthetic at odds with the traditional coverings that women are legislated to wear. Concerns for her safety lead Marjanes parents to send her to a boarding school in Vienna where she is a perpetual outsider confronted with the guilt of separation from her family and culture, and the indifference and hostility of her new European home. She falls in with a group of boarding school anarchists, until their bourgeois nihilism and lack of understanding drive her away. Things go from bad to worse and she ends up back in Iran, struggling to reclaim her voice and future.
The film is absolutely stunning, animated primarily in black and white. The writing is incredible, at once personal and political, hilarious and devastating. It captures with equal finesse the wide-eyed enthusiasm of childhood, the angst-y despair of teenage-hood and the confused stumbling towards adult life.
Marjane is so compelling and likeable, even as she plumbs the depths of self-pity or brushes with callous self-preservation, and especially when she embraces her proud family tradition of fighting injustice. Persepolis is an amazing story, beautifully told and presented with an exceptional visual flair. (Sony Classics)