(Originally published in buzz magazine on 2/23/2008)
Based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novels, Persepolis is an animated film made in France (Satrapi’s adopted home) that offers Westerners the very unique experience of understanding life from the perspective of an Iranian growing up in the 70s and 80s. Marjane was born in 1969 to a Communist family who strove to break Iran free of the dictatorial reign of the shah. Power did change hands in the late 70s, but instead of ushering in a new era of free speech and civil liberty, Ayatollah Khomeini’s conservative regime ensured a difficult life for free thinkers.
I haven’t seen many animated features in the past year, so I’m admittedly not much of an expert, but in an Oscar season when everyone’s clamoring for a film about a gourmet chef rat to win Best Animated Feature Film, Persepolis deserves a lot more buzz than it receives. Perhaps its unashamed Marxist bent prevents it from appealing to America as a whole. But its artistry is bold and memorable, and it comes at a time when our nation needs to realize that Iran is not one like minded mass of people who despise freedom.
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