Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Persepolis Film (Based on Graphic Novel) Marjane Satrapi

I really enjoyed watching Persepolis yesterday. It is an animated film written for adults. I learned some interesting facts about the film from the special features on the dvd. It was entirely hand drawn using markers and felt tip pens. This makes it very different than much of todays animation. I think the artwork was quite beautiful. Marjane Satrapi says she was using some of the style in film of Fritz Lang and the style in graphic novels of Art Spiegelman. The background music used a mix of contemporary artists and classical music. There was quite a bit of Johann Strauss in the film as background music.

Only first four minutes of the film are in color and the rest of the film is in black and white. The whole graphic novel is in black and white. The film is a story of a life of a very free spirited Iranian woman. You get to see her grow up through two revolutions, the overthrow of the shah, and the institution of the islamic party. It is quite interesting seeing a different viewpoint on that world.

I was exposed to very different view of the world watching the film. Even watching the extras on the dvds was quite eye opening. I liked watching Iggy Pop talk about his role in the translation of the film from French into english. Chiaro Mastroianni the lady actress who spoke the voice of Marjane Satrapy was quite striking to look at. The film is very international in flavor. Marjane Satrapi swithces between French and English at different points in her interviews.

The current Islamic revolution in Iran does not approve of the film. There are some fairly strong political statements in the film about freedom and the concept of democracy. You wonder when the Iranians were electing an Islamic party whether they were thinking of the Islamic style parties in Turkey or the way the Ottoman empire ruled. You see the country move from one form of repression, the Shah, to another form of repression, a republic withut the rule of law. There is a touch on how the west sold weapons to both sides in the Iran Iraq war.

I really enjoyed the bohemian segments in Vienna and Satrapi's experience with the decadent side of French life. She eventually ends up almost dead because of her misunderstanding of western culture and concepts of love. The scenes with flowers are especially beautiful to watch. My favorite character in the film is Marjane's grandma. She is the character with the most integrity.

I also like the depiction of how to live and enjoy oneself in Iran, the characters often break the law. No lipstick, no music, no cards, and no alcohol. Things which we often take for granted in the west. She says during her interviews on camera, she wrote the graphic novel and the film to show freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

There are some interesting scenes in the film while Marjane is in art school in Iran. The scene of a life drawing class with a lady in a burka is kind of odd. I also like the scene of Marjane and her grandmother watching Godzilla. Marjane's grandmother comments that she doesn't understand why people don't just run away.

The film seems to reach a universal audience. It talks about what we all experience, love, death, sex, remorse, and hardship. There is a deep honesty in the film. The strong lines in the drawing bring out the often dark qualities of the films and graphic novels. This writing is definitely for adults.

The animated film was the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been nominated for numerous other awards as well.

All of our copies of the graphic novel Persepolis and Persepolis 2, the graphic novel are currently checked out. We have multiple copies of both. Marjane also wrote Chicken With Plums which I wrote a brief review of earlier. I am currently looking at Embroideries the only copy of her book which we have which is not in use. It is a bunch of ladies sitting around drinking tea and discussing men. This happens all over the world.

This is the DVD

This is the book.

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