Review: Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi’s comic autobiography of her travails as a young Iranian woman of the Revolution in the late 1970s, comes to life as a as a dark alienated bit of French animation. It is the kind of cartoon that sits alone in the corner with the trail of a cigarette, rising in a thin trail of smoke from an outstretched clenched finger. But at the same time there is a true joi de vive to this movie. For example, as Marjane comes out a bout of depression, the movie breaks into a fitness video featuring Marjane delivering punches and belting out “Eye of the Tiger” complete with French accent that defiantly shatters the gloom that is crept into her life. Nevertheless, that gloom never fully disapates. Her guilt as a character confronts you directly as this abstraction that the comic art of the graphic novel and the animation of the movie forces directly upon you. This of course is coupled with the violence of the Iranian Revolution and the subsequent war with Iraq. As a result Marjane the character and the comic author, are simultaneously robbed of freedom as a woman, freedom as a person, but also of a country and a home. All that is left is the lonely ride back from the airport and that cigarette in the corner, fighting with ghosts of a past that makes her her, but also has robbed her simulataneously. In all, it is a great piece of animation that evokes the imagination of a childhood fantasy that is complicated and stabbed ruthlessly by the hardness of history.