Sunday, December 30, 2012

Persepolis (Books and Film)

Plot (of Both): This is the self-described story of a childhood and a of a return of one Marjane Satrapi. It is the Iranian Revolution, subsequent war with Iraq, and “peace”, as experienced by girl coming of age. She moves through her family and friends dynamics, grade school to college, and most significantly in the middle of everything from Iran to Austria to find out where it is exactly she belongs—or rather doesn’t.

Verdict (Books): Aesthetically this comic book is a treat and unique product. There are no textures and tones to the pictures merely contrasts of black and white, which clash and find harmony throughout the various panels, much as Marjane seeks to find in her life. The books focus clear and forwardly on the outer dynamics between Marjane’s relations with others and her thoughts on it all. It goes without saying that this story explains the Iranian Revolution in more honest non-judgmental terms than most Westerns have seen, except in few other places, but there is more to this story.  If you have ever felt like you did not belong, and had no thoughts or words to express, here is something that can do it.

Verdict (Film): If the book is about the foreground and thoughts of Marjane’s life, than this one is about both the drama of her heart and the drama of the history unfolding behind her. The characters of the film are animated in the same way as their book counter-parts (no texture not tone, just solid black and white), but the backgrounds are no long blank or static. They are full of tone and texture changing with Marjane’s changing mood, and even coming alive to tell stories of their own. History is made drama here, but it is not drama where good guys are good because and evil is evil because. The soldiers of the Shah and Revolution start out as children too. The comic books somehow are more personal, but this film has more soul. It is also great that this is another one to prove that animation, even ones whose characters sometimes express themselves in very silly caricature faces, should be treated as more than just a cheap baby sitter. Buy this, especially if you bought the book.

Facts: Both of these are translated French-language works. I have not listened to the dub of the film, not even sure if there is one. The comic was originally published in two volumes collected as the Complete Persepolis. Both the film and the comics were written and directed by the same author: Marjane Strapi. They are her autobiographical memoirs, as are at least two of her other works: Embroideries and Chicken with Plums. The latter she also co-directed and co-wrote and live-action feature film for.

This series pretty much passes every test that I have ever come up with. I am only going to highlight the most significant because of this.


(The main secondary character is Marjane’s grandmother. She is progressive of strong convictions who did want a more socialist democratic revolution like the rest of her friends and family, but also knew that there had to be people to live through the war too.)

Suck it Disney:

(Marjane is lucky because of how kind hearted and caring her parents are. Her mother in a protective way, her father in an encouraging way, both know to give her space.)

(There is also Marjane’s Uncle Anoosh a true socialist revolutionary in that he is a genuine gentleman too. He favors Marjane and her enthusiasm.)

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