For those who are familiar with the work of Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis will serve as a confirmation of her creative brilliance. For those who are not, prepare to be awed by this beautifully animated celebration of the cartoonist’s work. Part biopic, part documentary; Persepolis follows Marjane’s (named Marji in the film) development from boundlessly imaginative […]
For those who are familiar with the work of Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis will serve as a confirmation of her creative brilliance. For those who are not, prepare to be awed by this beautifully animated celebration of the cartoonist’s work.
Part biopic, part documentary; Persepolis follows Marjane’s (named Marji in the film) development from boundlessly imaginative little girl to outspoken young woman in the unstable political environment of late 20th century Iran. Whilst the plot of the film concerns itself mainly with the problems faced by Marji, Persepolis does an excellent job of chronicling the events of the Iranian revolution and the subsequent oppression of the Iranian people under the new regime, using the injustices suffered by Marji’s family to contextualise the wider political goings-on. The often brutal details of the regime’s activities are not omitted and are instead presented in highly stylised sequences of animation, further adding to the impact of the film.
Despite the gravity of the subject matter it explores, Persepolis maintains a level of gentle humour throughout and weaves effortlessly between satire and surrealism, sometimes delivering genuine laugh-out-loud moments. That said, it is also prone to sudden mood swings: frequently shifting from levity to sincerity in swift and unsettling transition sequences. In other words, Persepolis can pack a punch when it wants to.
Satropi’s unique graphic style is integral to the appeal of the film and fans will be pleased to know that her work responds well to animation. Satropi’s characters enjoy a simple elegance and, set against a minimalist backdrop, the focus of the film is placed firmly on the skilfully written dialogue as it casts a philosophical eye over such subjects as freedom, identity and religion from a number of moral standpoints.
From the political turmoil of Marji’s childhood in Iran to her turbulent years in Europe and everything in between (and after), Persepolis is a wonderfully poignant journey through a period of great historical significance. With its playful, non-linear storyline and fantastic animations alongside Satropi’s sublimely crafted characters, it makes for a truly remarkable cinematic experience. Unforgettable.
A masterpiece of animated cinema.
Nine out of Ten
Persepolis is available to watch for free in its entirety on YouTube here.