Friday, September 18, 2009


Persepolis is a French animated film based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel of same name, made in 2007. It was written and directed by Satrapi with Vincent Paronnaud. It tells the story of a young Iranian girl and her experiences while growing up in a war torn country. Marji, is brought up in a liberal family who follow an open-minded lifestyle and does not impose rules on their daughter. They give her the freedom to live, but to live responsibly and well aware of her roots.

She sees how her country is torn by the Iranian Revolution. Rules begin to be imposed on the people. Being the free spirit that she is, she finds the restrictions ridiculous, going about her own way of living life. She goes out to buy heavy metal music, wears a leather jacket, and constantly retorts back at her teacher for teaching the wrong ideas.

After being sent abroad to study, she becomes more aware of her Iranian identity as she realizes how people look at her not as an individual person, but as a representative of the country she comes from, which increasingly frustrates her. She tries to hide the fact that she is Iranian. She returns home, as she feels guilty that her countrymen are dying and she is away from home.  She feels further aggravated by the rules of the fundamentalists and snaps back at every opportunity. After a disastrous marriage, she returns to France and this time, less in denial of her identity.

Persepolis, on its first watch, had a uniquely blending impact of endearing characters with its cartoon figures and serious undertones of the themes. I enjoyed the quick dialogues, the wit and directness of speech by the characters. I was strongly drawn to the use of animation to show the face of Iran during the revolution. The people suffered under the strict regimen in the name of "Islamic law" and the women faced prejudice and unfavorable attitudes.

            The name resounds for its unique vocal quality. I wanted to read it. And then I wanted to watch it. Persepolis gave me a uniquely enriching visual and textual experience. The movie according to me, did as well as the book. The name fascinated me, as I found that it is a historic city in Iran. What drew me closer to the film was the story of this girl, in a state of mental conflict between her freedom and her experience in a country that suppressed and restricted free thought and action. Marjane comes across as a strong symbol of the fighting woman who does not give up, yet is constantly facing an inner trauma of discovering herself and being caught up with preconceived notions of her national identity.

            I found in Marjane a spirit that inspires, a drive that pushes above all odds and a strong will to fight back injustice. She questions, challenges, and faces its consequences without fearing its fallbacks. Issues of religion, patriotism, family ideals, trust, love, friendship and betrayal are brought forth beautifully.

            The music that is played during times of heightened tension, with no dialogue increases the sense of agitated anxiety one faces when watching the helpless state of the citizens under the repressive rule. The use of black and white to depict the author’s past memories and color to show the present give a stark contrast that reflect the narrator’s mind and how she sees things as she tells us her story.

            Watch the film for its uniqueness of reflective narrative and elements of animated story telling with a passion.


  1. "awesome stuff yet again...."
    ravi prakash by web :D

  2. Great review. Talking about the music used in the film, I enjoyed the hilarious rendition of The Eye of Tiger! Other "adult animations" that come to mind are Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly and of course the poignant but disturbing Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman. Loved it! A must watch if you haven't already.

  3. Thanks Tigre:)
    @ Nabil: A Scanner Darkly I have watched and yes find it quite unique in its animation and adult theme portayed.It's quite interesting to see variations in the "kind" of animations in these films. While Persepolis resorts to simple kid-like sketches, A Scanner Darkly has more real-worldish reflection of visuals.

  4. Inspiring story and character.
    And well written too!

    I am yet to watch both the films you have reviewed here!Hope to do so soon.

  5. love the way u write girl.. will sur etry to watch the movie.. sounds good.. and ya, belated eid Mubarak! hope u had a lvoely time..

  6. hey..well written..! simply luv da film.. :)

  7. Varun : Thanks..:)Do watch them.I'm sure you'll like it:)
    Olive: Same to you dear :)
    Shradda: So glad you've watched it and loved it! Do share more about what you like about the film.:)

  8. @ nabil

    Grave of Fireflies is also a brilliant "Adult animation"

  9. Just imdb'd Grave of the Fireflies and I see it's an anime feature. Intersting to see that animes like Miyazaki's latest Ponyo is being highly acclaimed by critics. I'm sure I've got 'Spirited Away' tucked away somewhere on my 1TB hard-disk. Gotta dig it out and watch it!

  10. I just checked Grave of the Fireflies yesterday. Impressive! Have to get my hands on it. Thanks Shankar..:)

  11. Zul, you need to check out Sita Sings the Blues! One of the most original and visually inventive animations of this year. It's been doing the rounds in film festival circuits sweeping awards and getting critical acclaim. A hopeful contender for the Oscars.

    And what's more, Nina Paley is giving it away free on the movie's website:

    Check it out when you get the time. Would love for you to critique it for your next blog entry.