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World Cinema, Film Review: Persepolis (2007) 21/03/2017

Figure 1: 'Persepolis' (2007) Poster

This film review will be focusing on the film 'Persepolis (2007)', this film follows the story of a young girl known as Satrapi. This story is based on the real events and effects of the time period in which the film is set (70's/80's), whilst all of the government corruption grows and festers this very innocent story of how a girl has to go about living her life is a simple story. However, through an interesting art style and clever animation, this film appears very human.

The film was made in 2007, was directed by Marjane Satrapi, was produced by Xavier Rigault and the music for the film was produced by Olivier Bernet. In 2007 this film was nominated for Academy Award for the best-animated feature, however, it lost to Pixars 'Ratatouui' (2007).

The theme of the whole film is very similar to waltz with Bashir, as the film is Iranian, but also French. It's interesting to note how deep and personal both of these stories are, and how the cultures they are base on seem to correlate to they are made. This story, for a single person, may seem a little long and can feel a little 'too personal' at times, however, it's the humanizing moments in the film and the minor details that are brought through in animation that make this film understandable and relatable. "It might seem that her story is too large for one 98-minute film, but "Persepolis" tells it carefully, lovingly and with great style. It is infinitely more interesting than the witless coming-of-age Western girls we meet in animated films; in spirit, in gumption, in heart, Marjane resembles someone like the heroine is "Juno" -- not that she is pregnant at 16, of course. While so many films about coming of age involve manufactured dilemmas, here is one about a woman who indeed does come of age, and magnificently." (R Ebert 2008)

Figure 2: Car Journey

So to jump in straight away, the entire story is based on the experience of a single human being. Following the story of this small little girl in this big diverse world and how she traverses it is the main heart of this story. Having small quirks in narrative and storytelling really sell the authenticity of the film. The actual contents of the film (And its contents at times can be quite dark) deal with serious issues such as discrimination, poverty, fear, sexism, and the list goes on. However, because of the contents of the film, these films don't seem to either offend or indoctrinate because we understand from the perspective of the viewer that is is very real, and the consequences of these events can be very real, and very harmful.

Another film that can be related to this film is the film 'Waltz with Bashir' (2008). Now the narrative of the both of these films are very different, and the way they are both told differ immensely. What is interesting to take note of however is the humanizing, and real elements of the films. Both films are centered around the events of people who went through traumatic experiences and had to come out the other side as stronger people. Both films express their undertones and situation from an artistic perspective which give the general undertone for the film depth.

Another film that is similar to this one is 'Sita Sings the Blues' (2009), now despite all of the difference between these two films, narratively and aesthetically once again they both share some similarities. The main similar it I seeing once again are the way the stories are told and the aesthetic theme. Both borrow animation techniques from one another and it's also not entirely impossible that one film may have potentially affected the other.

Figure 3: Gas Masks

Now it has been established that the narrative of the film has been worked, written and developed very well. However despite the fact, the story is very good it would be nothing without its visuals, told mainly monochromatic 2D animations. The refined designs of the characters, props, and environment we get to visit, smaller details can be picked up upon much more easily. Facial animations are particularly well done as everything looks like it is meant to be there, and at not point do any of the facial animations look out of place. As for the use of monochromatic, it blends nicely with the overall mood of the film, a serious topic which deserves a serious art style. The art style would still obviously still need to retain some traits of characterisation and 'Artistic Quirks', but the level of these choices in design are refined very well.

There are a few scenes in the film which use color, however, the reason behind why there are only a few scenes could either have to do with the budget, or it could be symbolic. Having the color in the scenes which are taking place in the current time in the story gives the sense that everything else is a flashback, and interpreted as a series of events rather than a straight story.

The main praise of rthis filmhowever is that it's a personal story done right, the development of the film is pretty amazing. Sometimes personal stories can get a little too personal, literally focusing on a single person. With this film however it seems to balance itself very well, having enough screentime for our main character but also having segments that really make her world feel feasible and plausible. Not too personal, but real enough so that the film can be enjoyed. "Here is an adaptation so inspired, so simple and so frictionless in its transformation of the source material that it's almost a miracle. When I tell people it's a lo-fi animation, largely in black-and-white, about Iran, they put their heads in their hands and make a low groaning sound. But I've seen those same people bounce happily out of the cinema after seeing it as if they had had some sort of caffeine injection." (P Bradshaw, 2008)


Bradshaw, P. (2008) Persepolis.
(Accessed on 21 March 2017)

Ebert, R. (2008) Persepolis Movie Review & Film Summary (2008)
(Accessed on 21 March 2017)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'Persepolis' (2007) Poster