Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MOVIE: PERSEPOLIS



ABOUT: Persepolis is a 2007 animated film based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The film was written and directed by Satrapi with Vincent Paronnaud. The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution, and shows how her family's hopes for change were slowly dashed as the Islamic fundamentalists took power, drastically curtailing personal liberties, forcing head coverings on women and imprisoning thousands; the story ends with Marjane as a 21-year-old expatriate. The title is a reference to the historic city of Persepolis.


The film won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was released in France and Belgium on June 27. In her acceptance speech, Satrapi said "Although this film is universal, I wish to dedicate the prize to all Iranians." The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.


MY REVIEW: I remember when my girlfriend Kelly bought the Persepolis graphic novels and I skimmed through them. It looked interesting, but since I haven't much cared for comic books or graphic novels since middle school, I didn't bother reading it. Shortly after though, I heard that there was a French film version of the novels and that it was going to be released in America. It was written by the author of the novels and it was going to be animated just like them too. Kelly was excited about it and so was I, since that way I could now watch it instead of reading the graphic novel.

Since I didn't read the novels, I can't compare the two, but Kelly says that the film was basically just like them except moving. I thought it was an interesting story, especially the fact that its one about how the Iranian government controls its people, especially women. We don't get enough of these stories but I don't think Persepolis was that great of one. It has moments of neat humor and scenes where the animation tells us something that happened in a pretty cool way, but the story of the girl at the center of it all is just not that interesting. I wanted to know more about the daily life in Iran, but since we only get the point of view from the writer (who was a child at the time) it isn't much.

We mostly get funny stories about her family and her time in Europe, which is mostly half of the film. We see how she has issues with friends, lovers, depression and by the time she thinks about killing herself it seems like the story she cares about more is her horrible time living in Europe. Not about her life in Iran.

It is still a good movie though, mostly because of the animation. I think that if she wrote a regular book and not a graphic novel, then it probably wouldn't have turned into a movie. Neat way to tell a story, if only the story was a little better.

The DVD features commentary with Marjane Satrapi. A behind the scenes look at how they made the English language version, which pissed me off because I then realized that I watched the whole movie in French when I could have just watched the English version. A look at how they made the French version and a Q & A with the cast/crew from the Cannes film festival.


MY CHEESY RATING: Persepolis is an interesting city with a story to tell, too bad it wasn't told better. 6 out of 10


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