Persepolis, the Movie: A Review

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Persepolis may be the most highly anticipated film in the Iranian community since 300 (and we all know how well that went). The critically acclaimed animated feature, based on the autobiographical comics by Marjane Satrapi, will probably not incite protest when it opens in Los Angeles and New York on Christmas Day this year, though.

I saw the film a couple of weeks ago and I liked it very much. Satrapi’s pretty much a genius and her movie is a beautiful work of art: hand-drawn, with excellent voice work by a very talented cast. She coached each actor separately, acting out all the other parts, and that sort of attention is evident in the performances.

But to hardcore devotees of the book (and I count myself as one), I have to warn you not to expect the best movie of your life. That’s the exact thought I had leaving the theater: “This was really good, but not, as I expected, the movie of my life.” Then I realized, well, that’s probably because it’s the movie of Marjane Satrapi’s life. Duh.

For you this may not be the case, but the same sort of connection I felt reading the books was not replicated for me in watching the film. There are probably a few reasons for this. First, I watched it in a theater full of strangers; obviously reading is solitary, more intimate. Second, there’s the whole classic book-to-movie thing: When you really love a book, it’s always hard for the movie to measure up. I nearly had the Persepolis books memorized, and the movie left out some things I loved and emphasized others I hadn’t noticed as much. It isn’t as funny as the books are, and a lot scarier and more graphic. Ultimately, books turned into movies are almost never as good as the movie you have playing in your head when you read… it’s dorky and obvious but true, and I think it happened for me with this movie. Third, music is a big part of any film, and Persepolis missed the mark: the compositions had an Eastern vagueness about them, and besides an off-key rendition of “Eye of the Tiger,” there wasn’t any other music from the era – the ’70s and ’80s – that I can remember (there’s an awesome Gole Yakh cover on the soundtrack album, though). And finally, on the way out of the theater, I overheard a girl behind me saying, “You guys, why didn’t they just leave Eye-ran when the revolution happened?” That put kind of a damper on the whole thing, so be prepared to correct misperceptions and fill in the inevitable history gaps.

Still, at the end of the day, you should go see Persepolis and you can safely expect it to be spectacular and wonderful. If you’re in San Francisco, you can see it on December 12 and see Marjane Satrapi and co-director Vincent Paronnaud (it’s a benefit for the San Francisco Film Society).

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[...] Saremi,in Pars Arts, wrote about Persepolis movie.Persepolis is a an award winner animated feature based on autobiographical comics by Marjan [...]

I’m embarassed to say I haven’t yet read the book, but I just saw the movie on Thursday at a Beyond Persia event and I am in love with it!!

I can’t stop thinking about it since I saw it. Despite the depressing subject matter, the humor (I loved the grandmother) had me in stitches. I’m impressed to say the least.

I am looking forward to see this movie and this review is helpful. Thanks

29 Jan 2008, 3:32pm
by N. Britton


I highly recommend the book and the movie to anyone interested in the Iranian culture and literature! Thank you for the interview.

well if graphic design and illustration are your thing persepolis is my favourite graphic design film. they are showing it at horsham film club next month.

 

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