Graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi has lead a fascinating life, which she tells in an original fashion in Persepolis. This animated feature shows the young Marjane growing up in a communist family in Tehran, becoming politicised and rebelling at college in Austria. The predominantly black-and-white animation is used to amusing effect as Satrapi gently pokes fun at her youthful exuberance and innocence, making serious political points easy to swallow. The lack of sense of direction is the film's only let-down.
Despite dealing with adult themes such as interrogation, imprisonment, drugs and sexual awakenings, there's a delightfully childlike element to Persepolis. Initially, much of the action is seen through the bright but naive eyes of the young Marjane, a playful, feisty child who's quick to judge - a trait that is frequently funny. Gradually, she learns the severity of the political climate in which she's living: it's the 70s and 80s, and civil liberties in Iran are being drastically tightened. A few key scenes effectively demonstrate the personal cost to Marjane as family members and friends are increasingly affected.
"IT'S A VERY PERSONAL FILM"
Satrapi is also very observant when it comes to gender relations, humorously describing her early fumbles with male students with a cunning eye for detail. Such scenes should help young women, in particular, relate to a film that might sound off-puttingly serious in principle. It's a very personal film, and therefore far from definitive when it comes to its political message. But it's an engaging and accessible story of a very eventful life.
Persepolis is out in the UK on 25th April 2008.