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Mainstream - Persepolis

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Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Voices by Sean Penn, Chiara Mastroianni, Gena Rowlands, Iggy Pop
Animated Black and White
French / English
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2008
95 minutes

It is easy to see why Persepolis was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2007 Academy Awards. It is hard to believe it lost to Ratatouille. Oh well, Hollywood, you know.

Persepolis is a visually stunning and imaginative animated film fans of animation and political movies will most certainly enjoy. This is also one of very few movies that respects its graphic novel origins though this DVD is not light hearted fare by far.

Persepolis is the autobiographical tale of Marjane Satrapi who grows up in Iran during the last years of the Shah, the country's Islamic revolution, the Iraq Iran war, her exile in Vienna, her return to Islamic Iran, and more. The story covers all the events, good and bad, through her eyes as a young girl, a young teenager, and a young woman.

There are a few didactic pieces here and there such as how the Shah came to power but these are few and far between. Persepolis borrows from many animation genres to tell its story most notably Chinese shadow animation. A real piece of eye candy is the scenes from a Godzilla movie Marjane and her grandmother go see. There are many others such as the Eye of the Tiger bit where Marjane's singing is comically atrocious.

That Persepolis is a bit slow is not the problem. I found it too episodic for my taste. Some of events Marjane tells are rather banal and Marjane herself rather ordinary. The matter of fact tone used to describe certain events like "Niloufar was executed." is quite disconcerting.

What really makes this movie is the animation and the fairly universal story. This is a very original movie.

Special features on the Persepolis DVD include two behind the scenes features, the Q&A from Cannes where the movie won the Jury prize, some scene commentaries, and animated scene comparisons.

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