So I watched Persepolis (HD Trailers) this weekend and I’ve just got to say the movie was amazingly well done. Persepolis is an animated motion picture which is done mostly in black and white. There are moments in color, which represent the present. On the other hand, moments in black and white, represent the past.
Persepolis originally was a graphic novel done by Marjane Satrapi, the main character of the graphic novel and the movie. If you’re interested in the graphic novel, it’s available on Amazon.com. In a sentence, the story follows a little girl named Marjane Satrapi as she grows up experiencing both Iran’s revolution and the war with Iraq.
Persepolis is actually the name of a city of Iran. I’m assuming that’s where she lived with her family and grew up.
*** BEGINNING OF SPOILERS ***
The story starts with Marjane sitting at an airport, obviously conflicted and begins to have a series of flashbacks. It goes back to little Marji (short for Marjane) and she was cute as a button! The Shah (ruler of Iran) was a very hated man and after awhile, his citizens could no longer bear with him and decided to overthrow the government. Marji was very conflicted. She had always wanted to grow up to be a prophet and given that the Shah was selected by God, she didn’t understand why God had chosen him. However, as she learned more and more about what the Shah did, she joined the revolutionists in chanting: “Down with the Shah!”
The Shah was eventually taken down and democracy was in place. However, it was shocking that over 99.9% of the population voted for Islamic Republic, which the best outcome for the country would have been some sort of socialism (helping the proletariats). Some of the key revolutionists were arrested and executed as they feared they’d spread poison into the minds of the people. I’m not exactly sure what went on, but given that this was seen through a little kid, the age of no more than 10, it makes sense that she also wasn’t exactly sure what went on. The story goes on about how many of their freedoms were removed, how woman were treated like sexual seducers if their face weren’t covered, how western culture is evil, etc. The country’s situation was already bad and then it was compounded by the invasion of Iraq.
Marji was a very outspoken girl and she can’t stand when others lie about what’s going on and has to set them straight, even if its her religion teacher. Her parents fearing that she’ll eventually get in trouble, decides to send her away. Taking a step back, I was shocked to learn of this. Apparently they aren’t allowed to kill virgins in their religion, so what happens is that the execution officer rapes them and then executes them. That is just so wrong…
Anyway, her parents sent her to France, where she learnt to survive mostly on her own. She was obviously homesick and made some bad choices in lovers and eventually became heart-broken. She returned to Iran, where her parents were more than happy to welcome her back. Back in Iran, she just sat around the house all day doing nothing. Her parents were worried, but she wouldn’t listen to them. It wasn’t until her mami (grandmother) came and talked with her and knocked some sense into her.
She meets another boy she likes in Iran, but due to strict rules of their religion, they aren’t allowed to be seen outside together. So the only thing they could do was get married and get married she did. Soon after, she starts regretting her decision and thinks her life is ruined. Her mami (grandmother) comes to aid once again and explains that there’s really nothing to fret over a divorce and if she is truly unhappy in this marriage, she’d find more happiness after the divorce.
Parties (due to mingling of mix gender) and alcohol are illegal in Iran, so people hold private parties. One time, patrolling police officers overheard their party and crashed in. The boys ran and hid on the roof, while the girls stay in the apartment. The officers chases the boys. All of the boys jumped onto a different roof. One boy got scared and stop, but when he tried, he didn’t make it.
After this experience, Marjane couldn’t stand the oppression anymore and decides to leave the country, once and for all. Once again, it’s heart-breaking for the family, but they knew it had to be done. She never saw her grandmother again as she had died shortly after.
The story ends with by returning to the present as she leaves the airport. You can obviously tell she’s still internally conflicted, as she might never see her parents and friends anymore. People at the airport are looking at her weird, since she looks like she’s middle eastern. However, she’s no longer afraid to admit she’s Iranian.
Freedom always has a price.
*** END OF SPOILERS ***
Persepolis is a very powerful story about the oppression in Iran. Not only was the story done exceptionally well, using black and white to tell the story gave it a very solemn feeling. The characters were drawn and developed really well also. I’d definitely recommend this movie.
MY RATING: 8/10