This rainy Sunday afternoon was the perfect time to catch the academy award nominated movie Persepolis. I felt a little irony as I strolled through the back alley to the tiny Varsity Theater. I could feel the ire of the audience rise in the darkness as the poignant preview for “Stop Loss” played across the screen. (A movie about the current war in Iraq…don’t need to say any thing else about that…) My republican self hunched farther down in my (next to the front row) seat.
Finally the movie I came for gloriously appeared! The art of the animation is amazing. For the simplicity of the black and white “cartooning”, the characters and scenes showed gorgeous movement and expression. Maybe it was just the endearingness (is that a word?) of the characters that made you understand them.
Persepolis showed how much “recent” world history we don’t remember.
Marjane, was raised in 1970’s Tehran, in a modern, free thinking, supportive family,and was old enough to be aware of the politics of her country. Marjane was vocally “loyal” to the Shah until she discovered that under the free and modern childhood she was living, were secret police who were murdering and imprisoning anyone who was against the Shah’s regime (including a beloved uncle.) The Shah had a lot to be paranoid about because revolution came and ousted him. Unfortunately the regime that replaced the Shah had it’s own agenda that was extremely religious and intolerant to anything modern (i.e. western…).
Marjane, being a child, came through the revolution relatively “unscathed”.
But when it became evident that the new regime could cause harm to outspoken Marjane, her parents sent her to Vienna. As independent as she was surrounded by her supportive family, it was difficult for her living alone, still a child really, in a foreign country.
As messed up and unjust Iran’s government was, it was still Marjane’s country. So after a few brave years of living on her own in Vienna, she returned to Iran and her family, trying to make the most of the oppresive situation. When Marjane was in University in Tehran she said “We were so wanting to be happy that we forgot we weren’t free.”
The end is a shot of Marjane as a twentysomething divorce’ leaving Iran with her family’s blessing: they just wanted her to be free.
Even if you weren’t old enough to remember where you were in 1980 you can love this movie–for it’s art, for it’s characters and for it’s history.