24 January 2008
Let's add Persepolis to the "Best of" bunch.
Either I just simply saw more movies this year or 2007 was a fine year for good films, I'm still deciding, but I thoroughly enjoyed Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel turn graphic feature length film, Persepolis.
The comic book/graphic novel adaptations have become way too trite for me in the past decade. It's either superheroes or live action films. Satrapi steered away from that element and actually stayed pretty true to the illustrations. Basically, they just became slow-walking illustrated characters, as opposed to being a straight up cartoon.
The political overtone in this film is thick. It focuses on the Iranian government right before the Iranian Revolution and the changes the occurred afterward when Islamic fundamentalists took over with a more tyrannical rule that forced the women to wear conservative clothing and long head coverings to keep men from being aroused, which I find interesting because it seems in order for American women to be considered feminine is to shed more clothing in order to keep men aroused. If anything, this would be a very important film to discuss in a women's studies course.
Anyway, along with the superb job in adapting the graphic novel, as well as having such a dynamic political overtone, is her portrayal of Westernized culture. With this, she has a comical contrast to the film's overall serious nature, like her love for the Bee Gees and punk rock and Iron Maiden and getting inspired by listening to "Eye of the Tiger." She hangs out with the Austrian punks when she is sent away to Vienna and the Austrian hippies when she grows tired of the punks. But despite her fascination with Western culture, she realizes that she is a stranger in both worlds. She felt out of place in Iran because of her fascination of this culture that was forbidden by the government, but her first-hand experiences with caricatures of the culture in Vienne does not add up to the media's depiction of it.
Satrapi was precocious as a kid and she plays out her curiosity throughout her life, which helps her grow as a person. It's always refreshing for me to hear stories of successful people who escapes a corrupt government and then dissect it in a creative way that reaches people on an international level. Well done, sister.
Sidebar: Although Persepolis should be a shoo-in for the Best Animated Feature category, I have already accepted the fact that Ratatouille's gonna win.