Persepolis (film)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Persepolis is a 2007 French-Iranian-American animated film based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The film was written and directed by Satrapi with Vincent Paronnaud. The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The title is a reference to the historic city of Persepolis.

The film was co-winner of the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was released in France and Belgium on 27 June. In her acceptance speech, Satrapi said "Although this film is universal, I wish to dedicate the prize to all Iranians." The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Ratatouille.

The film was released in the United States on 25 December 2007 and in the United Kingdom on 24 April 2008.



Template:Plot At the airport Marjane Satrapi (Chiara Mastroianni) is unable to board a plane to Iran. She then takes a seat and smokes. She looks back at her childhood. She remembers the good and bad times with her family, especially all the political issues going on. As a young girl, Marji lived in Tehran and wanted to be a prophet and a disciple of Bruce Lee. Her childhood ambition is the general uprising against the Shah of Iran. Her middle-class family participates in all the rallies and protests. Marji wants to have pride in her future. Marji and a group of friends attempt to attack a young boy whose father, a member of SAVAK, killed Communists for no particular reason. One day, Marji's Uncle Anoush arrives to have dinner with the family after recently being released from his nine-year sentence in prison. Uncle Anoush inspires Marji with his stories of his life on the run from the government, a result of rebelling. Political enemies cease fighting and elections for a new leading power commence. Marji's family's situation does not improve as they are profoundly upset when Islamic Fundamentalists win the elections with 99.99% of the vote and start repressing Iranian society. The government forces women to dress modestly, including wearing a head scarf, and Anoush is rearrested and executed for his political beliefs. Profoundly disillusioned, Marji tries, with her family, to fit into the reality of the intolerant regime. The Iran-Iraq war breaks out and Marji sees for herself the horrors of death and destruction. The Iranian government begins implementing ridiculous laws that create blatant injustices. Marji witnesses her father threatened by rifle-wielding teenaged government officials and watches her critically ill uncle die after an unqualified government-appointed hospital administrator refuses to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment. The family tries to find solace in secret parties where they enjoy simple pleasures the government has outlawed, including alcohol. As she grows up, Marji begins a life of over-confidence. She refuses to stay out of trouble, secretly buying Western heavy metal music, notably Iron Maiden, on the black market, wearing unorthodox clothing such as a denim jacket, celebrating punk rock and other Western music sensations like Michael Jackson, and openly rebuts a teacher's lies about the abuses of the government.

Fearing her arrest for her outspokenness, Marji's parents send her to a French Lycée in Vienna, Austria, where she can be safe and free to express herself. She lives with Catholic nuns and is upset with their discriminatory and judgmental behaviour. Marji doesn't make any friends, and ultimately feels intolerably isolated in a foreign land surrounded by annoyingly superficial people who take their freedom for granted. As the years go by, Marji is thrown out of her temporary shelter for insulting a nun and is driven out into the streets. Marji continues to go from house to house, until ending up in the house of Frau Dr. Schloss, a retired philosophy teacher. One night, her grandmother's voice resonates, telling her to stay true to herself as she leaves a party after lying about her nationality, telling an acquaintance that she was French. Her would-be lover reveals his homosexuality after a failed attempt at sex with Marji. She engages in a passionate love affair with Markus, a debonair native, which ends when she discovers him cheating on her. Marji is accused of stealing Frau Dr. Schloss's brooch, she becomes angered and leaves. She spends the day on a park bench, reflecting upon how cruel Markus was to her. She discovers that she has nowhere to go. She lives on the street for a few months. Eventually, she becomes ill and contracts bronchitis, and almost dies.

Marji recovers in a Viennese hospital and returns to Iran with her family's permission and hopes that the conclusion of the war will improve their quality of life. After spending several days wasting her time watching television, Marji falls into a clinical depression. She attempts suicide by overdosing on medication. She falls asleep and dreams of God and Karl Marx reminding her what is important and encouraging her to live. Her determination is renewed and she begins enjoying life again. Marji attends university classes and parties. She enters into a relationship with a fellow student. Marji notices that her situation has gradually worsened and that Iranian society is more tyrannized than ever. Mass executions for political beliefs and petty religious absurdities have become common, much to Marji's dismay. She and her boyfriend are caught holding hands and their parents are forced to pay a fine to avoid their lashing. Despite Iranian society making living as a student and a woman intolerable, Marji remains rebellious. She resorts to personal survival tactics to protect herself, such as falsely accusing a man of insulting her to avoid being arrested for wearing make up, and marrying her boyfriend to avoid scrutiny by the religious police. Her grandmother is disappointed by Marji's behaviour and berates Marji, telling her that both her grandfather and her uncle died supporting freedom and innocent people, and that she should never forsake them or her family by succumbing to the repressive environment of Iran. Marji, realising her mistake, fixes her mistakes, and her grandmother is pleased to hear that Marji openly confronted the blatant sexist double standard in her university's forum on public morality.

Her marriage is falling apart after one year. The police raid a party, resulting in one of Marji's friends being killed while trying to escape on the roofs. After her friend's death and her divorce, the family decides that Marji should leave the country permanently to avoid being targeted by the Iranian authorities as a political dissident. Marji's mother forbids Marji from returning and Marji reluctantly agrees. Her grandmother dies soon after Marji's departure. Marji is shown collecting her luggage and getting into a taxi. As the taxi drives away from the south terminal of Paris-Orly Airport, the narrative cuts back to the present day. The driver asks Marji where she is from and she replies "Iran", showing that she's kept the promise she made to Anoush and her grandmother that she would remember where she came from and that she would always stay true to herself. She recalls her final memory of her grandmother telling her how she placed jasmine in her brassiere to smell lovely everyday.


The film is presented in the black-and-white style of the original graphic novels. Marjane explained in a bonus feature on the DVD that this was so the place and the characters wouldn't look like foreigners in a foreign country but simply people in a country to show how easily a country can become like Iran. The present-day scenes are shown in color, while sections of the historic narrative resemble a shadow theater show. The design was created by art director and executive producer Marc Jousset. The animation is credited to the Perseprod studio and was created by two specialized studios, Je Suis Bien Content and Pumpkin 3D.


Both versions

French version

English version

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Persepolis (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools