*** (out of 5)
December 25, 2007
Chiara Mastroianni as MARJANE “MARJI” SATRAPI
Catherine Deneuve as MRS. SATRAPI
Simon Abkarian as MR. SATRAPI
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
BY KEVIN CARR
Oscar nominations for animated films this year are utterly confusing. Sure, there are plenty out there that are bemoaning the fact that “The Simpsons Movie” was not nominated. However, there’s an even deeper issue. How do you choose among “Ratatouille” (arguably the best reviewed film of the year), “Surf’s Up” (a rather deft spoof on a relatively unseen genre of film) and “Persepholis” (a stark vision of social examination that you’re more likely to seen in an arthouse than at a children’s matinee)?
“Persepholis” is not your traditional animated film. It’s not a Disney story with “Once upon a time” and “Happily ever after.” Rather, it exists in the animated realm more for dramatic effect and artistic freedom. Deeper than the images isn’t as much of a message as a desire to show people how life is really like – and has been really like – in Iran.
The story follows a young Iranian girl named Marjane who was a mere child during the Islamic Revolution. Her family is filled with Communist activists who are hunted down and imprisoned by the new regime. The young girl also struggles with societal change as the country turns into an oppressive Islamic state.
Throughout the film, she struggles to express herself, rebelling as any young girl would. However, under the Islamic regime, her method of rebellion involves wearing Nikes, listening to the Bee Gees and not adjusting her veil correctly.
While the film is immersed in politics, he manages to stay out of them for sake of the girl’s story. We are somewhat protected by the atrocities of the government because her family is just living their daily lives. The violence in her background is just a way of life.
Ultimately, “Persepholis” is a tragedy in terms of Marjane’s life. While she escapes the worst that an oppressive Islamic government can dish out to a developing woman, she loses her family to her own expatriate status.
Not your typical animated movie, “Persepholis” is an intriguing look into the everyday life of the average Iranian. Moments are exaggerated and hyper-real, like Marjane’s “Eye of the Tiger” music video sequence, but it’s all done to show the perspective of an average person under a government that we think we know.