Persepolis – French film based on graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born writer/illustrator now living in France. Persepolis is based on her 2003 autobiographical book (graphic novel) of the same name.

With the 2007 animated film Persepolis, Satrapi created a world that transcends cultures, and manages to tell a story of some complexity in an instantly accessible way. Seen through the eyes of a child, the events unfold in a manner that’s both easy to grasp and relate to. By the end of the film, we have seen and experienced so much with Marji, she almost feels like an old friend.

Marji Singing “Eye of the Tiger” in Persepolis

The film was heavily marketed using a humorous clip of Marji dancing and singing along to the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger”. The clip is a good stand alone excerpt, but it’s not really representative of the film as a whole. Persepolis has moments of humour and light relief, but it is far more widely punctuated with horror, anger and disappointment. Marji is a spirited child, with fiercely independent views on everything from music to politics. But in Iran, her personality and her perfectly normal need to express her individuality puts her at risk.

Marji’s Reaction to Regime Changes in Iran

The Islamic fundamentalists cause life in Iran to become subject to increasing constraints. Marji is forced to go from play-fighting in the street with boys to suddenly wearing long dark robes and having to use a different school entrance to her male playmates. Her incomprehension, and her desire to question the point of these changes, cleverly reveals a wider picture. Marji’s experiences, and reluctant adherence to the new rules, represents what was the reality of life for many ordinary Iranians during the regime changes of the 1980s, but it does so in such a way that it’s easy for Western audiences to understand and sympathize.