Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Persepolis

Reviews - Persepolis


Reviewed By John Stakes

The second feature of the club’s Autumn season was the oscar-nominated and Special Jury Prize winner at Cannes 2007 Film Festival “ Persepolis “, an animated autobiographical account of the passage from childhood to adulthood of its co-producer and director Marjane Satrapi.

And what a clever, intelligent, charming and perceptive piece of film making this was!

Marjane’s adolescent years coincided with Iran’s transition from a monarchy to a post revolutionary Islamic state. So, besides trying to understand her developing self, Marjane found herself trying to make sense of her world which had been turned upside down around her and in which her parents, who had initially identified with the revolution, were now becoming increasingly disillusioned with it and fearful of the shadow of fundamentalism.

Against this background of personal and political turbulence, it was only Grandma’s rock steady understanding of life which time and again was to come to Marjane’s assistance and to steer her through her search for personal truth

Anyone reading this review having unfortunately missed the film ( or not yet seen it on DVD ) could be forgiven for thinking what a heavy weather and uninvolving trek this would be. Not a bit of it !.The inspired and inventive black and white animation ( with occasional flashes of muted colour to denote the present ) proved to be the perfect medium to catapult the audience through the many twists and turns of Marjane’s unfolding life as she was dispatched to Paris and Vienna to complete her education. On her arrival she was immediately faced with the challenges of western consumerism in the form of alcohol, drugs, casual sex, heavy metal music, and materialistic lifestyles. Somewhat disillusioned she returns to Tehran to parents who initially do not recognise her and to a country which openly despises western values and freedoms in general, and emancipated women in particular. A hasty marriage proves disastrous but, at her lowest ebb, and thanks to Grandma and Bruce Lee her childhood hero, she discovers a fighting spirit and the will to face the future.

The animation was disarmingly clever, adopting a two-dimensional style where less became instantly more ( and no less effective for that than the detailed three-dimensional world of Pixar and other US animators ), and angled so as to reflect the world through Marjane’s developing eye. The dialogue was crisp, humorous, at times provocative and occasionally shocking.

With crystal clarity the pains of growing up in a confused and cruel world were shown to be universal, and Marjane’s struggle to understand herself became all too easily identifiable with. This member of the audience loved every frame.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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