Release Date: 2007
Director: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Why I picked this: Read part of the graphic novel and enjoyed it
Charming and personal, this animated autobiographical film depicts the coming of age of co-director and co-writer Marjane Satrapi amongst the decades of political turmoil in Iran. Flashing back to her childhood, young Marji is shown to be energetic and innocent, but not oblivious to the world around her. Although she may not be able to completely grasp the gravity of what is happening in her country, she still strives to be active; sometimes the results are cute, with Marji adorably chanting “Death to the Shah,” but sometimes troubling, such as when Marji and her friends plan to attack a young boy for the actions of his father. The rest of the film sees Marji maturing and getting a better sense of the world that surrounds her, as her lifestyle is affected by the political changes. Her family goes through much trouble, with the death of her uncle who inspired her, and she forms a rebellious side when the women of Iran are forced to be conservatively dressed and behaved; her obsession with Western culture, mostly music, clashes with this conservative Eastern mentality. It seems that through her entire life, Marji cannot escape idealism. It is her ideology that forces her to move out of Iran, where she comes of age in Vienna, with her first sexual experiences, yet as a foreigner, she feels isolated, and eventually reaches her lowest point. Upon returning to Iran, it feels that she has still retained much of her behavior, though sees the world through more mature eyes. The film’s hand drawn animation is beautiful, even if only in black and white, for the most part. Despite some very dark scenes and situations, the movie still looks vibrant throughout, making said dark elements still fit in with the rest of the movie; the very round and curvy art style of the graphic novel the film is based on looks great in motion. Some of the characters and figures are caricaturized in a deformed and stylish manner to reflect what they meant to Marji; for example, when a group of women stop her to chastise her for her dress, the women appear exaggeratedly large and towering, completely covered except for their faces and appearing to lack in any limbs, like some sort of monsters. It is a unique animated experience that depicts a fascinating life experience with humor and emotional weight.
Vibrant, charming, and dark, this animated autobiographical film serves as both an enriching history lesson and emotional life lesson.