Politically eye-opening and steadfastly astute, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's adaptation of Satrapi's own graphic novel about growing up an Iranian woman in the throes of a fundamentalist revolution, is a dreamlike thesis on everything from growing up to fitting in to finding your own identity in the midst of chaos (both phsyical and emotional) all the while backdropped by war and death. Showing the truth of what Iran was and is and may someday be - as opposed to the Jihad-spouting rhetoric put forth by most of the Western world - Satrapi gives us an Iran of intellegent thinkers and free-spirited philosophers, and Iran that is more like us than any of us would have ever dreamed - or in some cases wanted.
Brazenly hand drawn in this age of super-saturated mega-pixeled CGI-ordained ultra-animated-behemothy and taking cues from both German Expressionism and French Surrealism, and with more than a nod to Charles Schultz's Peanuts - not to mention the obvious connection to Art Spiegelman's holocaust memoir Maus - Persepolis paints not an idealistic picture of Iran (and its liberal-minded Socialist exiles) but instead gives us, simply and straightforwardly, Iran as it is. Yet Persepolis is not so much about Iran and its religio-political contradictions so much as it is about a young girl (Marjane was 9 when the Shah was deposed in Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution - a revolution that eventually gave the country an even worse situation than it had originally been fighting against) and eventual woman trying to discover exactly who she is and where she belongs, which in the quite downbeat (read: realistic) end, she (and we) are still searching. [02/20/08]