Sunday night I went to see Persepolis at my local megaplex. I had read about the movie many weeks ago but it was not playing anywhere around where I live, until this past Friday when it seemed to have opened nationwide, probably because of it's Oscar nomination for best animated movie. A brief resume of the movie:
Persepolis - the movie - is based on a French-language autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi that describes her childhood in Iran after the revolution. The title is a reference to the historical town of Persepolis, an ancient ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire.
The film tells the story of of little Marjane Satrapi growing up in politically-unstable Iran. With the fall of the Shah's regime when she was ten years old, her world changed overnight. Girls and boys had to use different doors to enter the school. She had to cover herself with a long dark robe and head veil. Grownups around her began to disappear, including close relatives and family friends. Marjane is a rebel at heart and has several close encounters with the country's morality police and with her strict teachers at school. The Iran-Iraq war comes to her doorsteps as Iraqi bombs fall on the street where she lives. Eventually her parents hoping for a better future for Marjane send her abroad to receive a European education, but she is miserable: she loves her family and country, despite their flaws, too much to stay away for long. She feels like a misfit in Austria for being Iranian but she realizes that she isn't the same Marjane anymore as she returns to her home country.
The movie grabbed me from the beginning with it's stunning (mostly) black & white visuals. After living here in the US for many many years I grew unaccustomed to subtitles in movies, specially when trying to read English subtitles to a French-language animated film. The b&w screen does not help the type either - when trying to take it all in all at once it took me several minutes to get comfortable with it again. Though I wanted to say I loved the whole movie I must confess that I peeked at my watch a couple of times towards the end. This is no cheery Disney-fare - as war, torture, religious oppression and murder don't get much down play throughout the film. This movie won't make you leave the theater a happy camper or humming to some cute critter's sing-along. I was kind of bummed as this was not the uplifting fare that I was expecting. I knew the thematic would involve Iran/religion/politics but I was hoping for a more feel-good ending and that it's not what Persepolis is all about.