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Persepolis


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#1 (unregistered)

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 12:23 PM

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#2 Darrel Manson

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 07:07 PM

I'm guessing I'll be in the minority here, but I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be. Maybe I set expectations too high. It's coming of age with a history lesson. It's not that it's bad -- in fact for what it is it's fairly well done. It's just that by and large I found it ordinary.

#3 SDG

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:46 PM

Just got back from seeing it tonight, and I'm disappointed to find my opinion converging with Darrel's. (Not disappointed because it converges with Darrel's, of course... disappointed that I didn't like it better.)

Actually for the first 35 to 45 minutes, I was quite impressed and appreciative, even though I saw it following the trajectory Darrel outlined. Given the cultural context and the uniqueness of the medium approach, I was very favorably disposed toward it.

But then the story, along with the protagonist's life, seemed to stall, and I kept waiting and hoping for a recovery that never quite came. If the heroine's downward spiral in Vienna had been more of a detour, I would have been willing to let it go, but a nagging malaise seemed to follow the heroine from that point on that for me at least dragged the film down into something not far from bathos. Particularly anticlimactic, I thought, was a late moment in which it appeared that the whole narrative to date might have been related by the protagonist during a counseling session to a distracted therapist doodling in his notebook. Reinforcing that moment, the film ultimately seemed to me to more or less peter out without any real resolution in a way more reminiscent of a navel-gazing art-school senior project than what the first act seemed to promise.

Moderate spoiler: After two notable appearances by God Himself early in the film, I was interested to see whether he would reappear later in the story, and if so how that would impact the thematic significance of the way the second God incident pans out. When it came, I was actually sort of expecting it right at that point, and in the end I thought that the third and final appearance more or less trivialized the whole business.

Not to say that there wasn't some very nice stuff in spite of all that.

#4 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 05:03 AM

I saw this one at the local festival 3+ months ago, and I remember liking it, but I nodded off for about 10 minutes somewhere in the middle. Hate it when that happens. There's a press screening in town next week or the week after, and I'm thinking of catching it again.

#5 Christian

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:16 AM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Dec 31 2007, 05:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I saw this one at the local festival 3+ months ago, and I remember liking it, but I nodded off for about 10 minutes somewhere in the middle. Hate it when that happens. There's a press screening in town next week or the week after, and I'm thinking of catching it again.


I've mentioned several times this year how I nod off at home while watching movies, regardless of how good the films are. But I've yet to nod off while at the theater. I suppose that day is coming ... hopefully not during a film I'm being paid to review. (I take it you weren't reviewing Persepolis.)

#6 Darrel Manson

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:40 AM

QUOTE (SDG @ Dec 30 2007, 08:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Moderate spoiler: After two notable appearances by God Himself early in the film, I was interested to see whether he would reappear later in the story, and if so how that would impact the thematic significance of the way the second God incident pans out. When it came, I was actually sort of expecting it right at that point, and in the end I thought that the third and final appearance more or less trivialized the whole business.

Yes. Especially considering that God is teamed up with Marx. I thought that was especially sophomoric.

#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 02:05 PM

Christian wrote:
: (I take it you weren't reviewing Persepolis.)

Oh, definitely not. But it's happened a few times this year that I've gone to a morning screening and been so tired that I missed part of the film. (Once is another such film, and no, I wasn't reviewing that one, either.) I think I'm getting old, or something.

#8 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:15 PM

'Persepolis' shown legally in Tehran
Authority allows censored version to screen
Variety, February 15

#9 Overstreet

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 08:46 PM

QUOTE
Using animation to talk about the social upheavals in Iran during the last 30 years is very creative. It’s too bad, therefore, that the story has such a boring narrative structure. Also, the movie’s sociopolitical analysis is superficial at best, and Marxist at worst.

Artists who want to make political and social statements should study political science and world history in depth beforehand if they don’t want to look foolish to the true experts in the field.


... says a true expert in the field.

#10 BethR

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 04:05 PM

QUOTE (Overstreet @ Mar 6 2008, 08:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE
Using animation to talk about the social upheavals in Iran during the last 30 years is very creative. It's too bad, therefore, that the story has such a boring narrative structure. Also, the movie's sociopolitical analysis is superficial at best, and Marxist at worst.

Artists who want to make political and social statements should study political science and world history in depth beforehand if they don't want to look foolish to the true experts in the field.


... says a true expert in the field.

I don't know why you keep torturing yourself and giving he-who-should-not-be-named free publicity. Here, read this review instead, by someone who actually appreciated the movie and has somethine worthwhile to say (yes, I know it's on Looking Closer as well).

I read the book before I saw the movie and liked them both equally. Remarkable work in unusual media. I particularly appreciated Morefield's analysis of God's appearances in the film:
QUOTE
The God of Marjane’s dreams is a benign one who allows her to approach Him with her dreams and questions and, above all, her doubts. In one of her imaginative trips to clouds to see Him, Marjane also witnesses Karl Marx, who pops up on another cloud to urge her to “keep up the fight.” “Yes,” God echoes, somewhat wearily as Marjane takes leave, “keep up the fight.” Of course, I like to think “the fight” means different things in both these speeches. From the former it perhaps connoted the political fight to adopt and implement the right ideology to rule men’s lives. For the later, I fancy it meant (especially, coming as it did in the midst of the character’s clinical depression and emotional alienation) the fight to have our own lives, to get up each morning, to face a threatening and soul-crushing world, to stare down despair, to live. I like that the God of Marjane’s dreams did not reject Marx’s rhetorical call for political action or social justice as inherently bad. He merely sounded weary of those who cared only for the masses and never for the individual. If He was on anyone’s side, He was on the side of the hurting, and there is something comforting in the contemplation of the fact that the prayers and hopes of those who live in worlds so very different from me may be the same as my own.





#11 SDG

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 05:10 PM

QUOTE (BethR @ Mar 7 2008, 06:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't know why you keep torturing yourself and giving he-who-should-not-be-named free publicity.

What BethR said. (Actually, what a lot of people have said.)

#12 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 06:36 PM

'Persepolis' banned in Lebanon
Lebanese authorities have banned "Persepolis" after fears it may exacerbate the fragile political situation there.
Variety, March 10

#13 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 01:16 AM

English-language 'Persepolis' to bow April 11
Sony Pictures Classics announced that it will release the English-language version of "Persepolis" on April 11 on 100 screens nationwide. . . .
The English-language version of "Persepolis" features the voices of Chiara Mastroianni as Marjane; Sean Penn as Marjane's father, Ebi; Catherine Deneuve as Marjane's mother, Tadji; Gena Rowlands as Marjane's grandmother; Iggy Pop as Uncle Anouche; and Amethyste Frezignac as young Marjane. It was recorded under the direction of Satrapi and Paronnaud as the French-language version of the film was being completed. . . .
Hollywood Reporter, March 20

#14 Christian

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 02:58 PM

QUOTE (Christian @ Dec 31 2007, 08:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Dec 31 2007, 05:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I saw this one at the local festival 3+ months ago, and I remember liking it, but I nodded off for about 10 minutes somewhere in the middle. Hate it when that happens. There's a press screening in town next week or the week after, and I'm thinking of catching it again.


I've mentioned several times this year how I nod off at home while watching movies, regardless of how good the films are. But I've yet to nod off while at the theater. I suppose that day is coming ... hopefully not during a film I'm being paid to review. (I take it you weren't reviewing Persepolis.)


Yup, I fell asleep during part of the first hour of this DVD, but what I saw I liked. When it ended, Sarah said, "I enjoyed that."

What bothered me most wasn't the God stuff. It was the political dynamic at work. Rather than repression versus freedom, what I saw in the movie (while I was awake) were Fascists versus Marxists. The free thinker is the Marxist, while the bad kid early on says his dad murdered someone only because that person was a Communist. So the good people all gravitate to Marxism, while the bad people repress and murder the good people. In the context of the movie, I'm on the side of the Marxists. But in the real world, I'm not on the side of the Marxists or the Fascists.

Then again, I liked Pan's Labyrinth despite that same dynamic! Hey, I'm caught in a bind! Somebody ... cut me loose!

Edited by Christian, 25 August 2008 - 03:00 PM.


#15 Darrel Manson

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 03:29 PM

Marxism isn't viewed by the rest of the world like it is in America. We've been conditioned to think Marxism must be bad. I'm certainly not a Marxist, but I can see its appeal and I think that there are things that Marx got right (given his setting). There are also things he got very wrong or didn't foresee happening that undermines Marxism. (Stalinism also undermines Marxism, but that's another matter.)

In the US we no longer see ourselves as oppressed by the haves of the world -- because we are the haves of the world. But given the way the US has propped up fascists at various time or exploited countries for their resources, it's not hard to figure out why Marxism has a following.

#16 Overstreet

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 03:32 PM

I'm just coming back to this thread (wow, more than a year later) to mention that I finally caught up with this film. But I'll postpone what I was *going* to say because I am only now noticing that there were some objections to my previous post in this thread, and I'd like to respond.

BethR wrote:
QUOTE
I don't know why you keep torturing yourself and giving he-who-should-not-be-named free publicity.

And SDG wrote:
QUOTE
What BethR said. (Actually, what a lot of people have said.)


If this matter still concerns anyone: I think I answered these concerns pretty thoroughly here.

And now... back to Persepolis.

Peace, out.

Edited by Overstreet, 19 June 2009 - 12:32 PM.


#17 BethR

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:23 PM

I look forward to your review of Persepolis, Jeffrey. It was one of my favorites last year, and probably worth a re-view now, given current events.

#18 Overstreet

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 02:17 PM

BethR wrote:
QUOTE
I look forward to your review of Persepolis, Jeffrey. It was one of my favorites last year, and probably worth a re-view now, given current events.


Thanks, Beth. I'm fond of it too. Anne and I both really enjoyed it.

I began to appreciate it more every time I re-adjusted my expectations. At first I thought it was going to be about Iran and Iranian history. It wasn't. Iran and Iranian history are a big part of it, but they are only part of the film's wide-ranging lines of inquiry. Then I thought it might be about empowering women -- and that subject definitely comes up from time to time. But her surges of "empowerment" only lead her into more mistakes and disappointments.

I think the film is, above all, about the ways in which we define ourselves.

Marjane grows up in a certain, narrow, limiting world in which there is oppression and resistance. They want freedom. She understand her place and her motivation here. She's shouting against something she understands and doesn't want, but she's dreaming of something she wants and yet fails to understand.

She breaks out into freedom. And she discovers... what? The fleeting exhilaration of sensual pleasures and abundance, only to sink into greater despair and disillusionment.

The community that welcomes her is, ironically, a community of anarchists. She isn't an anarchist, and she can call B.S. on their worldview quickly and sharply. Her experiences have taught her that life can be meaningful, and that ideas really do matter, and that people are capable of terrible evil. She dislikes the apathy and emptiness of anarchy. But she needs company. She needs friends. So she remains with them.

In her first romantic relationships, she finds delight in being loved for who she is, rather than punished for not conforming. But even there, she ends up broken and distraught, because that "love" turned out to be a lie.

The only times where Marjane feels known, loved, and safe is when she's in her grandmother's presence, or in God's presence.

Thus the film ended up reminding me more of Waking Life... and even Ghost World... than any film about Iran. Her personal relationships seemed to reflect her political contexts -- some will let her be herself, some will lie and pledge their care for her, some will force her into conformity. All of them let her down in the end. She won't find fulfillment in a political movement, or in boyfriends (or even marriage), or anywhere in the world around her... except insofar as she absorbs her grandmother's understanding of unconditional love and human decency.

I thought the ending was devastating. Like Cristina in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she drifts off at the end, troubled by so many contrasting, conflicting memories, so many mistakes. She has learned so much about what she does not want. (And yet, this "cartoon character" is so much more human and three-dimensional than Woody Allen's women.) Her exposure to true love has been rather limited, and her faith in God is feeble at best. It's a story of being lost, and of the failure of so many popular routes of self-discovery and empowerment. And I think that's an important testimony.

Edited by Overstreet, 05 July 2009 - 05:10 PM.


#19 Overstreet

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 03:15 PM

Darrel wrote:
QUOTE
Yes. Especially considering that God is teamed up with Marx. I thought that was especially sophomoric.


I didn't have that feeling at all. I don't think the film is suggesting that God and Marx are equals, or to be laughed at. Rather, these figures represent the "voices in her head," representing very different influences from different experiences in her life. The "God" speaking in her head is a figure formed in her childhood... a loving but childlike impression of God that is comforting to her. Marx is a voice of authority from her years of study. It made complete sense to me that these would be the voices contrasted later in her life, when neither religious tradition or intellectual awakenings are satisfying her. These voices, and others like the therapist and the anarchists have become a confusing din in her head.

While I might *wish* that God would be a more profound influence in Marjane's life, I'm not bothered by the fact that the film represents God in this way, because it is Marjane's picture of God. The fact that God is portrayed this way, and Marx as well, contributes to the larger picture of her disillusionment.

Edited by Overstreet, 05 July 2009 - 05:10 PM.