Saturday, February 9, 2008

Persepolis (2007)

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Persepolis is one of the most original, fresh movies of the year; a film that makes you feel like you have seen something unlike anything you have previously watched or thought of. The animated film, presented in French and with subtitles, is based on an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi and was adapted for the screen and directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Satrapi's self-narrated story begins as a little girl being raised by progressive parents in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s and the fallout that occurred afterwards in the 1980s. Her account of the events involving both her family and country reveals that a girl raised in an overtly tyrannical country isn't that different from an American or anyone else growing up in the same time period. The film's best character, Marji's grandmother, provides the story's funniest humor and most lasting relevance as she lends advice to Marji and tells stories and parables. The independent spirit imparted on her by her grandmother lead to some of the films greatest scenes, such as teenage Marji negotiating a deal to buy a new Iron Maiden album on the streets of Iran and subsequently rocking out to it. Due to the increasing conflict and violence, Marji's parents send her to France for high school, and these years illuminate even more of the world's harsh realities such as prejudice and isolation. As Marji becomes a woman we see her cope with issues such as finding an identity in society and starting and ending relationships. The film is fast-moving while covering many years and many events and is proportionally amusing and moving. What makes Persepolis so brilliant, however, is the style of animation used to present the story. The black and white, nontraditional, sometimes abstract illustrations and over-the-top flashes and and cut-ins create an environment that is not only entertaining but universal in that no preconceived notions will influence the audience in any of the scenes. Whereas real actors and film may have isolated particular audiences, the drawings provide a means to portray very specific situations very few have experienced in a way that everyone can relate to. The voice-over work is nothing extraordinary and the soundtrack is fairly generic, but the story in this case is so incredibly strong that it carries the entire film on its shoulders into film history. The script and presentation of the script is legendary, so imaginative, refreshing, and thoroughly enjoyable that it is one of the best coming-of-age stories in some time. Equal parts a reflection on history and the lessons learned by fire in life, Persepolis unites the audience and drives home the point that in such a large world, the differences between us aren't that vast, and everyone has the same common pursuit of love, freedom, and happiness.

Good For: all movie fans, people interested in history, fans of foreign films

Bad For: people who cannot read subtitles, mean people

The Gallery
The Film Maker: * * * * *

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