Oscar contender "Persepolis" will draw you in

By Tatiana Craine

Imagine yourself in a place of purely black and white: a place where you are with the government or against it; a place where ideals get swept under the rug by the fear of guns and bombs; a place where parties are hidden behind closed doors and windows.Now imagine yourself in a place of whimsy and wonder.: a place where passions drive the soul; a place where integrity rules over lies; a place where “PUNK IS NOT DED”; a place where bread swans and talking to god (and Karl Marx) is normal.

Have you got it?

You’re in Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis,” a fanciful coming of age story about a young girl growing up in Iran during an upheaval of government. Originally filmed in French, the language barrier in “Persepolis” does not detract from the film. There is no stereotypical “French” pomp disrupting the accessibility of “Persepolis.” The French makes the film poetic at times, and urgent at others.

Animated in the literal and figurative sense, “Persepolis” brings audiences into little Marjane’s life as she struggles to come to terms with the power in Iran and the western influences creeping into the country. Marjane eventually goes abroad to Vienna where she struggles yet again, this time trying to remember her Iranian roots while the West bombards her with anarchism, punk, and drugs. Immediately audiences are drawn to Marjane, cheering at her as she becomes a pre-adolescent communist thanks to her rebel uncle and identifying with her as she learns the ways of anarchism during her teenage years with her European friends.

Despite the overriding critique of political and social norms in several countries, “Persepolis” goes deeper. It’s a story about love, friends, and having integrity. However, that staple cliché coming of age films are prone to is woven beautifully beneath the plot – not in your face. There’s no overt mushiness or campiness to be found in “Persepolis.” At times it’s cute, depressing, enlightening, and humanizing, but above all – it feels real.

Nominated this year for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film, “Persepolis” unfortunately lost out to some culinary rats. Perhaps it was because the rats were computer animated, family friendly, and didn’t smoke weed. Perhaps it was because big-name studios with talking rats win out over the independent film companies with philosophy. Perhaps it was because people would rather pay to see rats than pay to see a film about an independent young woman from a country the United States is less than friendly with at the moment. Whatever reason it was, “Persepolis” was overlooked by the Academy; nevertheless, this film deserves a nod (or at least a viewing) from all of you.