Thursday, 25 February 2016

"Persepolis" - movie review

(fig. 1 – movie poster)
“Persepolis” is an animated film from 2007 directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. The film is an adaptation of the graphic novel created by Satrapi and tells the story of growing up in Iran and eventually Europe in-between a war and a revolution. The first thing that strikes the viewer while watching is the muted colour palette that quickly turns into only a black and white rendition that works so well on the screen. The graphical style of the animation communicates the story in a truly elegant way and not a single scene is left to feel boring or unloved.

The story itself is really touching. A girl that is born in a country that stands on a politically shaky ground has to discover where she belongs and filter government propaganda from the truth. I think what makes the message so successful is the light-heartedness of the overall style, it makes a point and it doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste, just a lot of compassion and understanding. The comedy is very subtle at places too, making the animation flow seamlessly without forcing a reaction out of the audience. In that sense I think “Persepolis” serves its purpose – it tells a compelling and real story that transforms and not just demands a reaction.

Another very sweet part of the story is how Marjane is physically growing up while all the chaos is happening in her country. It adds another dimension to the feeling of unrest and constant flow, the physical transformation being part of a mental and political one. And even though Marjane has to leave her country, scared of what might happen, she remains the same character and is a great example of the Hero’s journey. Once she returns, she feels like everything is the same and yet slightly different and is more aware of the oppression and limits that are not a norm for her anywhere else.

What would make the film more authentic perhaps is not watching it dubbed in English and incorporating subtitles that work with the animation like in a graphic novel. Nevertheless the film still has a very strong presence and a feeling of truth behind it. It also suggests that this could happen in any country at any time and freedom is a very, very precious thing.

“Persepolis” is a wonderful example of a film adapted from a graphic novel and a breath of fresh air with its bold style and compelling story. I would give it 5* but I feel like that is not enough. The depth of the animation is what speaks for itself and I’ll be sure to watch it a few more times.


Fig. 1 – movie poster -, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2016].

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