Persepolis directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, is an animation with the voices of Catherine Deneuve, Sean Penn, Chiara Mastroianni, Iggy Pop.
It’s an expressionistic piece, minimally drawn in black and white, featuring the life of a young Iranian girl. On one level a coming-of-age story, it is outspokenly political, showing the hopes of everyday people for the Iranian revolution, and the ways in which those hopes have disintegrated in the face of the reality of life ordered by a tiny group of fundamentalists.
The film is based on Marjane Satrapi’s series of graphic novels and her childhood experiences in Iran, where she survived ‘traumatic encounters with schoolteachers bent on denying her expression, policemen determined to deny her freedom and Iraqi bombs intended to take her life.’ I found the film moving, though it seemed over-long at around 90 minutes. Although it depicts one woman’s struggle against oppression, her life stands for that of many others. Persepolis shared the jury prize at Cannes in 2007.
The title “Persepolis” comes from the Persian capital founded in the 6th century BC by Darius I, later destroyed by Alexander the Great. It’s a reminder that there’s an old civilization, besieged by waves of invaders but carrying on through millennia, that is deeper and more complex than the current-day view of Iran as a monoculture of fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.