When Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis was first published in the United States in 2003, it was a work as innovative as it was topical: an autobiographical tale, told in cartoon form, of coming of age in Tehran during the Iranian revolution, released just as Americans were realizing how little we understood about Middle Eastern cultures. Four years later, her film adaptation of her book (and subsequent sequels) is just as striking as its source materials, and its lessons feel intensely of the moment.
Directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the animated Persepolis (opening 12/25), in French with English subtitles, retains the stark, fluid black-and-white look and bittersweetness of the original comics as it recounts the author’s childhood in an increasingly repressive Iran, her brief academic sojourn to France, and the guilty feelings that eventually bring her back to her homeland. Beyond its crash course in Iranian history, Persepolis reminds us how few societies get to choose their leadership, and that one can love a country and its citizens while despising its government – a message that still needs to be broadcast as loudly as possible.
to a friend