Sunday, February 24, 2008

Persepolis

Well, right after commenting about the dearth of memorable 2007 films, we saw one last night: Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical account of growing up Irani during a tumultuous period in her country's history. Taken from the excellent two-volume graphic autobiography of the same name, Persepolis starts with the young Marjane, the child of a liberal, secular family who barely comprehends the Islamic revolution. She meets dissident relatives who, freed from the shah's prisons, find worse fates at the hands of an increasingly repressive theocracy. When, hoping to take advantage of its instability, Iraq invades Iran, religious leaders respond with even heavier crackdowns. Marjane's outspokenness forces her parents to send her to Vienna, where she finds Western personal freedoms tempered by the alienation of the exile. Eventually, she returns to her loving family in Teheran and the counsel of her grandmother (wonderfully conveyed by the voice of 90-year old Danielle Darrieux). Marjane attends college and marries, but finds that she is a stranger in her homeland as well. Her marriage failing, she departs Iran for good.

Despite the complexity and foreignness of its subject, Persepolis moves along briskly and with clarity.  Its universal portrayal of a young woman groping for her identity shows itself best in small acts of rebellion: A scarf displaying more forehead than allowed, a tightly draped burka, secret parties with homemade wine, the removal of head scarves with the same joy that an American man might take off his shoes and socks after a long day at the office. Based on Satrapi's original drawings, the Persepolis takes full advantage of the freedoms animation and film (most memorably when an Iraqi missile rockets into a neighboring building) while never seeming cartoony. Excellent and not to be missed. In French, with subtitles.


2 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

See this.

The story is similar to the life of my blog team member Maryam Namazie.

Scrumpy's Baker said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing this. But... I'm still glad Ratatouille won best animated feature. I can't help it, that little cooking rat who is in love with Paris just gets to me.