Not a country for smart girls

February 2008 -

Film: Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud


Persepolis is the film version of the autobiographical cartoons in which Marjane Satrapi tells about growing up in Iran and Europe at the time of the fall of the Shah, the Iranian revolution and the war with Iraq. The book version was published in four parts in France starting in 2000 and has been translated into various other languages. Satrapi received a variety of film proposals, especially from the United States. "Very Beverly Hills, or with Brad Pitt as my father", she says on the film's website. She never intended to have Persepolis filmed, but the project gave her the opportunity to fulfil her long-time dream of working together with French cartoonist Vincent Paronnaoud.

The result is an incredible film. A black-and-white animated film, with an enormous pace and vivaciousness in both the story and the design. The characters are not simply cartoon figures but truly come to life, especially young Marjane and her family. Marjane's father and mother are politically-aware, warm and loving parents. Her grandmother is a wise old lady who helps her but is also very hard on her. Her favourite uncle, who was killed by the regime, is the guiding light in Marjane's life. Marjane herself is a smart girl with a critical attitude. So critical that it becomes risky. To their dismay, her parents believe there is only one solution: Marjane is sent to Europe.

Persepolis clearly reflects Iran's recent history and especially the lives of people in periods of revolution, repression and war. At the same time, Satrapi openly tells the story of her life. The story never devolves into a personal litany. Satrapi maintains a healthy distance from her story and puts the bigger and smaller dramatic events of her life into their proper perspective. This is why the film has so much humour. Making the film incredible and critical, entertaining and especially touching.

Persepolis was shown during the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2008, where it won the Golden Movie Squad Award. The film will be shown in film theatres throughout the Netherlands starting on 28 February 2008.