I promised myself I would write one of these posts during the honeymoon period, but it took me a while to figure out what movie I really wanted to talk about.Â I’ve finally settled on Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.Â
The movie is based on Satrapi’s graphic novel by the same name, and is obviously animated.Â The present-time scenes take place in color, while the historic memories are shown in a shadow-puppet-like black and white style.Â The original video’s spoken language is French with accompanying English subtitles.Â This movie is surprisingly dark, engagingly funny, and a stark coup of stereotypes and exoticism.
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The narrative of the film is a coming-of-age story of a young, headstrong girl in 1970’s – 80’s Iran.Â Oh, and it’s roughly auto-biographical of Satrapi herself.Â A child in a tumultuous political climate, little Marjane’s character roams all over the s
I promised myself I would write one of these posts during the honeymoon period, but it took me a while to figure out what movie I really wanted to talk about. I've finally settled on Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.
The movie is based on Satrapi's graphic novel by the same name, and is obviously animated. The present-time scenes take place in color, while the historic memories are shown in a shadow-puppet-like black and white style. The original video's spoken language is French with accompanying English subtitles. This movie is surprisingly dark, engagingly funny, and a stark coup of stereotypes and exoticism.
The narrative of the film is a coming-of-age story of a young, headstrong girl in 1970's – 80's Iran. Oh, and it's roughly auto-biographical of Satrapi herself. A child in a tumultuous political climate, little Marjane's character roams all over the spectrum, from dreaming of becoming a prophet to bullying a neighborhood kid. Juxtaposing her childhood enterprises is the general uprising against the US-backed Shah of Iran, with her middle-class family participating in rallies and protests with high hopes for a better society.
I don't want to explain too much of Persepolis' plot, but basically, shit gets crazy. The Shah is soon overthrown and a strict Muslim party takes over the political system and Iran becomes the Islamic Republic of Iran, more or less as we know it today. Marjane's family begins to fear persecution of themselves and of dearest Marjane, as her outspokenness and their family's moderate way of life begins to draw trouble. (Dun dun duuuuunnnn . . .)
I absolutely adore this movie. As an artist, I am particularly aware of how well this movie has been animated – Persepolis is simply gorgeous. Not only is it visually captivating, but emotionally as well. I was instantly endeared to the young Marjane, in all her brutish innocence and fearlessness.
But of course, more importantly, Persepolis tells not just a good story but an important one. Through the narrative of Persepolis, I honestly learned about things I had never learned about before; the history of Iran! Learning how and why the Middle East has come to the place it is in now is absolutely crucial to stepping toward any kind of peaceful solution to the problems that area of the world faces.
When I heard the Persepolis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Picture in 2008, I was ecstatic. Because what would an award like that do for a movie like this? If nothing else, it would encourage a bunch more Americans to sit down and watch it and hopefully (probably) fall in love with this little Iranian girl and maybe rethink – just a little – how they viewed Middle Eastern women. Not to mention learn a bit about why the modern world is the way it is!
BUT NO. The movie that won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Picture was Ratatouille. And truth be told, this is probably the way that Persepolis has changed me the most. It spawned my ever-continuous passive-aggressive hatred of Pixar.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think Ratatouille is a terrible movie, and I truly do think Pixar's done some great things, as far as proving that animated movies can be viable entertainment for everyone, but I don't think I can ever forgive them for this.
Maybe I'm just being stubborn. But so what!? If I am, it's only out of good intentions. I truly believe that Persepolis is not only a better movie, but that its cultural, social and political ties and implications make it far more worth viewing.
I still adore Persepolis. I still think it's valuable as a cultural artifact of Iran. But essentially, it ended up disillusioning me on the prospect of main-stream Americans truly having a desire to understand other people. Instead, let's watch movies with talking rats.
The trailer. (It was love at first sight.)
Persepolis is available on DVD in stores and on Netflix.
(I called this little bloggy "A Movie That Changed Me" to identify myself as a C-Blogger. Not like those real writers who write real things and have a series of posts called "Movies That Changed Us". Check 'em out, they're cuter and better written than mine.)