If you’ve followed the exploits of Spill.com
since the beginning of the year, then you saw both Korey
put the animated French film Persepolis
on their respective "Best of 2007”
lists. It was a close call for me. This missed my
top ten mark only because my own flaws, and not those of the film.
My problem is, I sometimes have to fight to stay awake when politics come up. I suspect it’s mainly a ‘fight or flight’
instinct. See, I used to be the ‘fight’
guy. You did NOT want me to hear you say something in support of the Reagan/Bush/Bush jr dynasty. But then one day while illicitly shopping at Wal-Mart, I TRULY learned what it means in this day and age to be an American. It's about apathy. Even if we're the sort that understands how frelled up everything is, we can't let it spoil our weekend BBQ party. So now when a great film like Persepolis briefly segues into what was happening in Iran in the 1970s, I gotta put on my Clockwork Orange movie-watching glasses
to make it through.
Shame too. Having seen this marvelous movie a second time now, I probably have to second think not putting it in my top ten. Persepolis
is a marvel of old-school animation techniques and style. It’s use of “lighting”
and shadows owes much to the German expressionistic style of directors such as F.W. Murnau
as well as the classic 1955 noir film Night of the Hunter.
The thoughtful, inventive and primarily black and white look of Persepolis
would be enough to sell it, but it’s the touching and true story of Marjane Satrapi
(the writer and co-director) that really hits home.
Many are already comparing this to the Pulitzer Prize winning comic Maus: A Survivor's Tale
(yes, a comic has won the Pulitzer Prize. Get over it grandpa.) Its coming of age story set in troubling political and social times naturally lends itself to comparison. Persepolis with all the chaos of the social upheaval in Iran taken out, remains an insightful story about a girl growing into a woman.
is the story of Marjane
's life, first before the Islamic revolution in Tehran
when the Shah
was in power, and then during the revolution which failed when the fundamentalists took control. Marjane
was sent, shortly after the fundamentalist state was formed, to Vienna for school. The middle of the film, and most of Marjane
’s teenage years, present her first falling in love with then being overwhelmed by all the new ideas and opportunities in Europe as well as experiencing many crisis's more universally typical for the young .
I can already feel some of you tuning out. This ain’t Lions for Lambs
. This is funny, dramatic, touching, smart and even revolutionary stuff here. The political backdrop presents a vision of the people of Iran and why things are the way they are there that puts up on the forward scanner
our shared humanity and vision of a better future. You don’t see that story on Fox “news”
The DVD presents both the original French subtitled version of the film and the dubbed version. Before you “purists” get all haughty, the dubbed version was CAREFULLY overseen by the directors and writer every step of the way. One of the documentaries on the disc, “Behind the Scenes of Persepolis”
seems mainly there to justify the dubbing of it. Non-”People” magazine
luminaries such as Gena Rowlands
, Catherine Deneuve
and Sean Penn
voice some of the characters. Iggy Pop
, who does several bits in the film, gives the biggest laugh of the short documentary. Even while recording in the studio, the guy has his shirt off. It’s like Outbreak
but with the deadly McConaughey
virus. Seriously dude, we know you look great for a 90 year old guy or whatever, but you’re still old enough to have great-grandchildren: No one wants to see your weird looking musculature. Ew.
“The Hidden Side of Persepolis”
is the French “Behind the scenes”
doc that takes a good look at the classic animation techniques they used and the original French actors who voiced the roles. This is the more in-depth and interesting of the two documentaries on the disc, which makes sense because, well, it’s French.
The disc also has several selected scene commentaries conveinantly directly linked (so we don’t have to watch an entire movie again with talking over it. Seriously, other than on “Spinal Tap”
, who listens to these?) Analysis of the bookending color sequences and of the off-key “Eye of the Tiger”
scene are actually amusing and enlightening.
There are two highlights here extras-wise. One is the Q&A at the Cannes Film Festival
premiere. Good Lord, there are actual journalists
asking probing and pertinent questions (no one asks Marjane
who designed her clothes) about the film and smart thoughtful answers given in response. This put everything in the film into a whole new light. Marjane Satrapi
is such a fascinating human being that it makes you want to seek her out and buy her a beer just to look further into her brain. The other must-see is the animated scene comparisons. These are a look at the storyboards for some deleted sequences that offer a much richer and more intimate portrait of Marjane
's past. A sequence where she attempts suicide and has hallucinogenic dreams is one in which I would have loved to see completed.
is a gorgeous film that would be well-suited to show to slightly older kids and is enjoyable for anyone. I’m proud to have this remarkable film in my collection and most likely will drag it out anytime someone comes over to my house and says, “So what good movies do you have?”
again. Incidentally, that question always cracks me up. You’re standing in front of WALLS full of DVDs and ask that as if most of these I bought are just crap I put up there for decoration. Perhaps my collection is a bit intimidating to those more used to a normal sized collection instead of one that rivals your average Blockbuster store.
CLICK HERE TO BUY THE PERSEPOLIS DVD.