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Persepolis

Persepolis

By V.Venkateshwaran • May 5th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
PERSEPOLIS (MOVIE)
Sony Pictures Classics

Original release: May 23rd, 2007
Running time: 96 minutes

Directors: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Parannaud
Writer: Olivier Bernet

Voice cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Denueve, Simon Abkarian

“Its fear that makes us lose self-awareness”

I must confess, it’s usually through films I’ve come to know the true political scenario of countries like Iran.

Films that have either revolution or the consequences of the political war as their base can sometimes help us understand more about the people, culture and events there than the news might.

This autobiographical animated film is a beautiful example of how the history of Iran has been re-written through the years amidst the disastrous war and its political changes. It’s the story of Marjane, a courageous and straight-forward woman, who has experienced all the commotions of war and revolution in the early part of the 1970’s.

Persepolis

Through a series of graphic sketches painted in black and white, Marjane narrates her life, offering us a glimpse of how people in her society react to war. It also gives us a first-hand impression of how those in other countries stereotype people who come from the war-torn nations.

Marjane sits and smokes in the lounge of an airport in France, and tells how her childhood was fully filled with the encounters of Communist and right-wing clashes.

She feels proud when she learns her uncle is a political prisoner, and at the same time tries to take revenge on a guy whose father is an anti-communist. The explanation given by her uncle, as how the emperors in the middle-east have been acting as a puppet in the hands of western counterparts for the sake of oil-trade is crude (pun unintended), realistic and at the same time thought-provoking.

Even the graphics that fade out each and every scene uses in-animate objects that give the feeling Persepolis is to be taken in a lighter-sense, though it involves sensitive issues.

Persepolis

As it’s an auto-biographical film, the director always maintains her character to be unique and stand out from the crowd, at all times. Be it her passion towards pop culture, her antagonistic opinions against her teachers regarding the political prisoners or her bold arguments in the limitations in wearing the tight outfits, we feel she’s the abode of courage and a rarity in her society.

Though she struggles a lot, for example; during her education, in finding the right life-partner and suffering from bronchitis, we feel all these experiences and failures have moulded her as an even stronger woman when she returns to Iran.

Her experience in Europe is just an example of how it is difficult to fit in to a culture that is totally different from yours. Though she tries to acclimatise with the conditions, her origin always haunts her and she even pretends to be French.

Persepolis

In all these difficult situations, her grandmother is always there to advise her, either physically or in her dreams. Her advice is practical and also helps her learn the harsh truth of life.

The background music takes us along with the film and its cute graphics. At times, the haunting score during the bombings reminds me of the Japanese anime Grave Of The Fireflies (1988).

The major letdown with Persepolis is that it casts a negative light on the everyday life in Iran with an overdose of the people’s struggle there, in spite of some lighter moments after post-revolution era.

Even if you’re an outsider to Iranian history and culture, Persepolis will help you pass through the political history, culture, bombed streets, revolution, and the true face of the war that took place back then.

Persepolis

V.Venkateshwaran

V.Venkateshwaran

Venkateshwaran is a spoilt engineer who enjoys life through watching movies. He is a lover of world cinema with a passion for films spanning different genres which he will recommend to anyone and everyone around him.

Apart from being a big-mouth in Twitter (@venkyyells), he also writes about what he loves in the movies at his blog, Frames of Eternity

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