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“Laughter Is The Most Subversive Weapon of All”



Persepolis, an animated film adaption of a memoir-as-comic by Marjane Sarapti came out last year to much media acclaim and won many awards at international film festivals. It’s been on my list of movies I need to see since it came out and I finally had the chance to see it last night. It was so insightful and brilliant that I had to write something about it even though it’s been out for some time.

Persepolis is an autobiographical story of Marjane that follows her childhood in Iran during the Revolution and documents how her life dramatically changes afterward. As a teenager, her parents send Marjane to study in Europe to keep her safe because her ideas conflict with that of the state. Persepolis’ use of animation allows for the exploration of themes such as revolution, war, death, extremism, and racism in a way that can dig further than traditional film, yet without making light of difficult subject matter. That Marjane is a young girl who becomes a women adds a layer of issues uniquely feminine. The film is the journey of Marjane defining herself, and her integrity all while dealing with her identity as a foreigner missing her homeland. Persepolis is a beautiful film about identity and love of family, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should rent it or buy it.  Here’s a glimpse of the trailer:

Persepolis | Trailer from Smelly Cat on Vimeo.

What makes Persepolis even more amazing is how it was made. It was all animated the old school way – by hand with pen and paper – in a style had not been made in France for 20 years. Strapati found one of the few remaining masters who taught a team of 20 assistant animators the art of tracing – an integral step in animation.  What follows below are three “making of the movie” featurettes.   The featurettes are especially enjoyable because you see the author and the woman behind Persepolis and it brings the character to life.

You can get the first memoir-in-comics, Persepolis:The Story of a Childhood, here and follow-up memoir, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, here.

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