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Saturday, April 19, 2008

I finally got a chance to see the much-raved about Persepolis today, and I'm glad because I really enjoyed it. Directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud, the film's an autobiographical coming-of-age story about Marjane's life, set against the backdrop of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran. The film begins with Marji's life in Tehran in the 1970's and early 1980's where she lives with her liberal and pro-revolution family. As a child, she shows herself to be an outspoken activist-in-training with a love for Michael Jackson and punk culture, leading her parents to see her strong character is perhaps best kept safe away from the constraints of the strict tryannic regime assembling. She gets sent to Vienna where she grows up amongst an odd set of characters; punks, hippies, etc, fall in love, falls out of love, before realising she does not belong and returns home. However, on returning, she finds her life in Vienna has not prepared her for the changes in Tehran and the experiences of hardship that her relatives have endured. The one constant in her life is her beloved grandmother - who is by far my favourite character in this story - and whose honesty and blunt nature keep Marji in line, and on track.

I heard people say that the film's animation format trivializes the nature of the film, but I actually think the stylized black-and-white drawings gave the film something unusual. The film was an excellent narration of one woman's experience of the changing environment in her home country, and I could really respect that Marjane Satrapi included events which also showed her mistakes, rather than blaming all her problems solely on the government, her family, etc, and making herself out to be a victim of her circumstances.

Watching the film from the perspective of someone who is completely ignorant of what went on in those years between Iran and Iraq, it's not an easily accessible subject, but Persepolis' self-deprecating humour and honesty makes it a damn good start.

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