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Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi adapts her graphic novel for the big screen
By Caroline Planque

Posted January 25, 2008


    Think animation movies are only for kids? Marjane Satrapi’s elegant and pure pen strokes narrate the story of her youth, of a young Iranian girl whose family, torn by the Islamic revolution and concerned for her security, sends her away to Austria in order to protect her. Her coming of age in this foreign land coincides with a search for identity and values, a clash of culture that makes her yearn for her homeland but then, upon returning, also makes her realize that she, herself, has changed too much to be able to accept the fundamentalist law now governing her country.

    Satrapi defines herself rightly as an artist, a talented one at that, and not a sociologist, historian or politician. She is not trying to convey another image of her homeland, or take a political stance, but rather to encourage more consideration of all human beings. The tragic events that shattered Iran are shown in their complexity and horror through the eyes of a child and then a young adult. Satrapi certainly isn’t hoping to gain sympathy for herself or her situation; she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. “To think that one has the monopole of suffering is really boring, and extremely unconscious. It’s certainly not because someone cut your finger while they cut my arm that I am suffering more than you do. It is the same suffering. There is no scale in it. For me, courage is the courage of everyday life and important choices are choices of everyday life.”

    Esthetically, the movie’s sobriety in black and white reinforces the impact of the story being told. “I come from independent graphic novels, says Satrapi, where from the start, one publishes in black and white for economical reasons because it is cheaper. But even if I could publish in color, I would not do it… I find that black and white functions better to narrate a story.”

Add to it the wonderful voices of real-life mother and daughter Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni, and Danielle Darrieux, and you’ll find yourself drawn to the characters in a way that would have been impossible in a feature film.

    Persepolis has been nominated for best animated feature at the 2008 Academy Awards. Results on February 24.

    Also read an interview of Marjane Satrapi in French.


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