Wednesday, July 01, 2009

film review: persepolis

i picked up this film a few weeks ago for a few bucks and decided to give it a look yesterday, as i am planning my 'reel life' curriculum for the fall. i was really surprised and moved by the film, and just thought i'd say a word about it here.
persepolis is an animated film, and it won several awards, beginning in cannes, and you can read about all of that here, if you really want to. in short, it is the story of a young girl who is growing up in iran in the midst of the iranian revolution. as such, it seemed particularly poignant, even so much as showing a political protest in which one of the protesters was killed, eerily foreshadowing current events.
but the movie isn't as much about the political problems in iran as it is about marjane's journey through childhood and adolescence and into womanhood. from her childhood she longs to be a 'prophet,' and to a certain extent fills that role as she stands up for what she believes is right and true in the face of government control and propaganda, but the main part of the conflict has to do with her own inability to really embrace that role, or find a venue for it. she wants to be a revolutionary, but is instead limited by her gender, and her forced move to europe. it raises questions for us about what we can/should do when government oversteps its bounds, but it more effectively raises questions about how we can be true to ourselves in whatever situation we find ourselves. marjane's grandmother serves as a kind of spiritual guide in the midst of her journey, constantly reminding her to be fully herself, a woman of character and integrity no matter what else happens.
i would say this is a pretty good film. the animation is really different and visually stimulating. the writing is at once poignant and playful, bringing to light some of the interesting juxtapositions of marjane's life. the story powerfully illustrates the costs of war. but my problem with the film is its just sort of drops off, in my opinion. maybe this points to my own need for tidy wrappings and bows on stories, but i just felt really let down by the end of the story, not because it wasn't the ending i wanted, but because it didn't seem like an ending at all. still, it is a compelling story, and if you don't mind reading subtitles, it is worth a view (if for no other reason than to see the dream sequence where God and karl marx are encouraging marjane that her time is not yet up, and that she must keep fighting - good stuff). it isn't exactly light fare, so please don't run out and rent it for your friday night dinner party and then blame it on me, but consider viewing this 95 minute film as a way to challenge yourself about who you are and if it is who you have meant to be (or who you were meant to be).


Crafty P said...

very interesting. did you watch it alone or with shannon? did she like it? did she get all that depth from it? curious.

Anonymous said...

planning reel life for the fall huh. I'm excited to see what you've picked.

greg. said...

crafty, i watched it alone, and i'm not sure what shannon would have gotten from it. she is quite the perceptive movie-viewer, so i would expect her to find as much as i, although we usually have quite different perspectives.

tyler - we will be watching 'pay it forward' each month, focusing on a different character and the excellent writing/cinematograhpy/direction/production/etc. each time. i'll see you there! ;)