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Bellow is the 1000 word review for submission for Semester 2.

Persepolis (Film) by Maryjane Satrapi

“…I don’t like to preach, but here’s some advice. You’ll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it’s because they’re stupid. Don’t react to their cruelty. There’s nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself.”

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of my Childhood

Before the review, I wish to open on a personal note, as this is a personal film/book, the review starts afterward:

Summer, 2010. On a shelf, in a home I’d never been in, with people I hardly knew, was a film called ‘Persepolis’; taken in by the cover I enquired with my friend’s sister what this film was. Sophie said that I should ‘just put it in and watch it, I won’t say nothing more’. So, I watched it. Astounded and perplexed by being thrown into someone’s story that I had never heard of nor had any proper knowledge on the history of the individual, my mind was ‘displaced’ as it were. It was as if I was taken on this journey through Marjane’s life, trying to understand her struggles, woes, humanity, and the displacement she had undergone in her lifetime during the revolution. Maybe it was due to me trying to understand myself, going into unknown of college at sixteen, about to meet hundreds of new people and entrenching myself in a new zone out of my comfort, not knowing what to expect.

The film Persepolis is an academy award nominated film adaptation of the autobiographical series of French comics created by Marjane Satrapi; these comics show the reader her early years as an adult in Iran and Austria whilst the Islamic Revolution raged and depicts her life after the revolution also. These comics spanned between the years of 2000 and 2003, published in the United Kingdom in 2003 and another in 2004. Fast forward to 2007 and the biographical drama film based upon the French comics is created with the same name, written, and directed by Marjane in a collaborative work with Vincent Paronnaud. France and Iran also made an international co production towards the film.

We start of Persepolis with a lavish backdrop of music, visuals and opening credits following into the start of the narration by Marjane herself, giving narration to her childhood, seeming to be in an airport. This part is in colour, once she starts talking about the past, black and white ensues creating the classic genre look of the French comics in question. We see a young Marjane and her family dealing with the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, which was a series of events leading to an overthrow and re-form of government of the Pahlavi dynasty which was under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah and the government were replaced with an Islamic Republic under the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who was a leader of one of the revolting factions. The revolution in turn created a system that replaced a pro-Western monarchy with an anti-Western theocracy.

As the film goes on, we get glimpses and personal accounts by Marjane of her family and of the time she was sent to France to start a new life with her mother’s best friend, due to circumstances and other situations, Marjane is then travelling from one home to another within Vienna and other places. Marjane at points struggles to adjust and tries to fit in as much as possible within the confines of her new life, with people who she knows doesn’t understand the level of pain she has suffered during war within her homeland. This is coupled with nearly passing away in the streets after losing her ties of shelter and homelife’s within the family friends and friends of friends etc.

After a near fatal event in her life, Marjane goes back from France to Iran to find that the war is over and lots has changed but lots has stayed the same, with the government upholding the restrictive laws upon woman and that obviously her family are now older maintaining a further disconnect with the time she has lost with them due to moving away. Ending up in a bit of a rot, Marjane must now fight back to take control of her life again, as shown with the montage comically animated to the song ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor. Through this she meets her now divorce’ and a year passes on, now not happy in her marriage and the death of her childhood friend, she leaves him and Iran to go back to France to find new meaning, leaving her parents and Grandma behind. The film then cuts back to the start of the film which is in colour with Marjane heading into the horizon in a taxi stating proudly that she is from Iran. This Is in contrast with the growth of her character where In France she wasn’t as open about her heritage.

Persepolis is a moving coming of age story, involving displacement and the circumstances caused by conflict and war. It depicts a world that I and others I have grown up with have not experienced or been fully aware of in the past. It teaches us to be proud of who we are and embracing ourselves and sticking true to your Morales, no matter what restriction or situation presents itself to us. A message and character that is maintained with heavy focus throughout the film is the relationship and obvious influence Marjane’s grandmother has had on her, teaching her the values of life, and always giving her the advice, she needs. This stems from how her ancestors thought for freedom and not for imprisoning innocents, this is the turning point of the film for Marjane. 

The film then ends on a high note involving the conversation they have about how her grandmother would keep her bra fresh with lavender so she would always smell nice. A subtle but continuous message of the knowledge of elders and how even through a time of displacement, memories of our loved ones can live on.

Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud

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