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Marjane Satrapi, now living in Paris, told her life story in two graphic novels, which became best sellers and have now been made into this wondrous animated film. The animation is mostly in black sand white, with infinite shades of gray and a few guest appearances, here and there, by colors. The style is deliberately two-dimensional, avoiding the illusion of depth in current animation. This approach may sound spartan, but it is surprisingly involving, wrapping us in this autobiography that distills an epoch into a young woman's life. Not surprisingly, the books have been embraced by smart teenage girls all over the world, who find much they identify with. Adolescence is fueled by universal desires and emotions, having little to do with government decrees.
In her teens, with the Ayatollah Khomeini under full steam, Iran turns into a hostile place for the spirits of those such as Marjane. The society she thought she lived in has disappeared, and with it much of her freedom as a woman to define herself outside of marriage and the fearful restrictions of men. Sometimes she fast-talks herself out of tight corners, as when she is almost arrested for wearing makeup, but it is clear to her parents that Marjane will eventually attract trouble.
It might seem that her story is too large for one 98-minute film, but "Persepolis" tells it carefully, lovingly and with great style. It is infinitely more interesting than the witless coming-of-age Western girls we meet in animated films; in spirit, in gumption, in heart, Marjane resembles someone like the heroine is "Juno" -- not that she is pregnant at 16, of course. While so many films about coming of age involve manufactured dilemmas, here is one about a woman who indeed does come of age, and magnificently.— Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com
Thu October 6, 2022, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium
France, United States of America; 2007; in French, Persian, German; 95 min, 35mm
Screenplay: Vincent Paronnaud, Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Writer: Vincent Paronnaud, Director: Marjane Satrapi, Author: Marjane Satrapi, Story: Marjane Satrapi, Comic Book: Marjane Satrapi, Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve