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Year: 2007 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi 
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux , Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes, François Jerosme (voice talents).  
An image from Persepolis

Persepolis is an animated film based on the graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi, who also co-wrote and co-directed the film. The film follows a young Iranian girl and her development during the Iranian revolution. The film starts off by showing her many aspirations and hopes of how she can help her family and herself by leading a successful life. What follows is how these dreams are slowly crushed by the Islamic fundamentalists who take rule of Iran, taking away the rights of the Iranian women. It has been nominated for an Academy Award, and it has enjoyed almost universal praise from critics.

The film is animated in black and white, which is just one of many things that make it stand out so much from other films. It adds a certain poignancy, and really helps to get across the messages of the film in a clear and crisp manner – the images stick in one’s mind like few other films, having the lasting effect that was desired.

Indeed it is almost impossible to walk away from Persepolis without feeling an attachment to the characters, and much sympathy with their plight. Clearly this is the intention of Marjane Satrapi, after she dedicated the Jury Prize award won at Cannes Film Festival to “all Iranians”. The accuracy of the historical and political background is quite astounding, but what is even more amazing is that the film manages to deliver it in such an interesting and involving fashion – one can learn as much as one would from a documentary, without having any idea that an hour and a half has just passed.

The animation is notable too, being one of very few films in which a traditional style of animation is used. Whilst there are innovative animated films still being produced (A Scanner Darkly springs to mind), they haven’t gone through the same painstaking process that Persepolis has; something that makes this film a true labour of love, which comes through during every second.

Joseph Tait

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Spring Term (35mm)