Reader Request: Persepolis (France)


I lied yesterday. There are certainly more than two categories of animation. A key one that I failed to mention was the adult-themed movie shown through the style and eyes of a child. These films take a complex subject and simplify it to the point where anyone, even a child, could grasp the concept. Mary and Max did it beautifully with Asperger’s/Autism. Persepolis does it with the Iranian Revolution, a historic event with political ramifications to this day.



Based on the comic written by Marjane Satrapi (our heroine), Persepolis spins the tale of a young girl as she is caught up in the social and political overthrow of the Shah. Once the dust settles and the new regime turns out to be even more oppressive, Marjane’s parents send her to Austria to protect her from potential harm.


Fewer things make me appreciate growing up and living in the U.S. than learning about life in an oppressive state. Persepolis closely and accurately—it is a first hand account after all—depicts the life of a cosmopolitan family within a conservative, Islamic regime. Marjane and her family are constantly active in attempts to free the people of Iran and ignite the flame of democracy. However, a more powerful and organized opposition often squashes these efforts.

Visually, Persepolis plays out like a comic. Swirling black and white images with exaggerated features, the animation lulls you into a childlike dream. Then you read the subtitles and notice that this dream sequence consists of events like a man fleeing for his life from the authorities after witnessing his mentor being shot by a group of policemen.


The content of Persepolis brings you in and the animation makes you stay. If it weren’t for a dull, forgettable ending, I would strongly recommend Persepolis to anyone and everyone as an excellent lesson on a serious event in modern history. My recommendation may be dampened slightly, but Persepolis is still worth a viewing for its delicate balance between the ethereal animation and harrowing social commentary.

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