Friday, January 11, 2008

Persepolis Review

I recently saw an advance screening in San Francisco of "Persepolis", an
animated feature film based on the graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. The
screening was through the SF branch of ASIFA, courtesy of Karl Cohen. I invited
Lee Hester of Lee's Comics to join me to see this and he enjoyed the screening as well.

The screening had its share of a few comic book notables in the audience, namely
Trina Robbins ("Go Girl" and "From Girls to Grrrlz") and her partner Steve
Leialoha ("Spider-Woman" and "Batman" among others). Lee shared some of his
popcorn with them.

As for the movie, I didn't know what to expect. I actually expected a
disturbing, depressing tale and even though I have eyeballed the graphic novels
(on sale at Lee's Comics!), I never have actually read them for that very
reason. I shouldn't have had such a jaundiced view.

What a refreshing surprise to find that it wasn't really about any particular
political events, although the overthrow of the Shah and the Iran-Iraq War was
mentioned and even shown briefly, it wasn't the main focus of the story.

The real story was about Satrapi herself and her story is so universal, it
really could be told anywhere by anyone. I could even write a story about my
struggles of trying to be a writer and trying to maintain a job and
relationships that would be vaguely similar to Satrapi's.

There were some truly funny moments including Satrapi's pursuit of pirated audio
music cassettes and also her escapades with her various loser boyfriends.

That said, the film is not bereft of some tragedy, but like I said, it isn't the
sole focus. Satrapi has had a well-rounded share of life experiences.

The film is in French with English subtitles, but don't let that keep you away.
It's a very entertaining feature film. I suppose it didn't have to be animated,
but I am glad that it was and it is somewhat similar in art style to Charles

Incidentally, Persepolis is the name of an ancient Persian ceremonial capital.
Of course, the present day capital of Iran is Tehran.

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