Persepolis could be the Iranian version of The Simpsons. Ten years after the film’s original release, it is still a fitting description for the animated piece. You have a rebellious teen as the central character, Marjane, with Bruce Lee as her hero, instead of Krusty the Clown.
Marjane Satrapi, the Franco-Iranian artist, has created a gripping coming-of-age story of her own life growing up in pre-revolutionary Iran in the 1970s. Marjane’s family are the focus of this smart black and white animated film and her parents as leftists who campaign against the Shah. She has a wonderful bond with her grandmother too.
When Marjane’s family fear that life is getting too much with the Iranian government and secret police, the teenaged Marjane is sent to Europe. She is flown to Austria and we follow her story growing up in a society that starkly contrasts what she is used to back in Iran. We follow Marjane’s struggles and feel for her, as she is trying to find her feet in a new western world, so far from home. When she returns to Iran for a brief visit, she is then jolted back to the society she once knew. Again proving difficult for her to find her place. The issue of identity runs through the film.
Persepolis, even after ten years, is still a firm favourite for those interested in Iranian culture and history. With its moving story of a young girl growing up in a Middle Eastern and western mix of societies, this is a simple yet humorous film which will have you wanting more of Satrapi’s stories.
If you want to read more about Satrapi’s work, read here for a review of her book, Embroideries.