Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: Persepolis (2007)

Perspolis is a perfect mix of thought-provoking content and cinematic entertainment. Showing the life Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni), who we see develop from a little girl into a strong and confident woman processing the turbulent, repressive and often horror-filled world around her. Marjane, you see, grew up in Iran and witnessed the Islamic Revolution and great change. Unfortunately, that change wasn't all for the better, although it may have seemed that way at the time.

Depicted mostly in black and white throughout, Persepolis manages to effectively show a number of horrors without ever being too explicit, but also without coating everything in sugar and honey. It really gives viewers a good general idea of how people live under the shadow of an oppressive regime by showing how Marjane at first explores her environment with childish curiosity, and then eventually rebels against much of it with a strength developed over the years.

Writer-directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi (with the latter translating her autobiographical graphic novel) do fantastic work. The animation is stylised, yet all of the main characters feel like very real, well-rounded human beings, which is so vital when showing how people have been held down, and often dehumanised, in the context of the movie.

Mastroianni is very good as Marjane, while her real-life mother Catherine Deneuve does a great job in the role of her onscreen mother. Simon Abkarian is Marjane's father, but Danielle Darrieux steals a number of scenes (or, at least, her animated character does) as Marjane's grandmother, the savvy matriarch of the family who proudly watches her granddaughter find her voice when it's most needed.

I was very pleased that I'd finally given Persepolis a watch as the end credits rolled. I'd been made to think about many freedoms we take for granted, I felt as if I'd learnt a little bit more about some quite important world history, and I'd been hugely entertained by an animated woman steeling herself ready for a new stage in her life by singing "Eye Of The Tiger" enthusiastically, if amusingly out of tune. But I also know that there's more I should look into, that this is just one small part of events that shouldn't be forgotten. I will be hoping, at some point, to educate myself further on the central subject, and that's, arguably, where Persepolis succeeds most.


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