Persepolis, the Book and Movie, and Marjane Satrapi

marjane satrapi, a frenchwoman who’s based in paris but is of persian (iranian) background, wrote a beautiful series of illustrated novels called PERSEPOLIS and PERSEPOLIS 2. they tell the story of her childhood as the shah of iran fled to america and the ayatollahs came to power in the 1970s and ’80s. it’s hard to believe that the zealots on the fringes can come to sway an entire society, but then again, look at the ascendancy of the “moral majority” in this country and how far right we’ve skewed: i mean, how can anyone question the legitimacy of evolution? so who’s to say we don’t have our own mullahs issuing fatwas against abortion providers, and so on?

Persepolis book cover

in any case, marjane satrapi has gone on to direct an animated film based on her illustrated novels. i’m KEENLY interested how she got the opportunity to do that, as i have a graphic novel that needs an illustrator and i think would make a great live action film.

here she is talking about her books and film to the NYT Magazine:

The film certainly looks hand-drawn; it’s done mostly in arty black and white, with none of the slickness of computer-generated animation. Were you concerned about surrendering the process of drawing to legions of animators? No. Many times opportunity happens, and people don’t understand it’s an opportunity. They say: “Why do you want to make a movie? It will destroy your reputation.” O.K., maybe I will make a bad movie. And so what? At least I tried.

When does your film open? Dec. 25. Why not see something for Christmas besides Santa Claus? “Santa Claus is coming.” I never had any presents from him. He never comes.

You’re a Muslim, yes? I’m not a religious person at all.

Your books denounce Islamic fanaticism, particularly as it curtails the rights of women. Is that your main theme? Oh, no, not at all. I don’t consider myself as a feminist but more a humanist.

the novel was compact and evocative, unexpectedly powerful when you consider they describe an almost archetypal condition of the bourgeois, educated class in pretty much any culture: bohemian, free-thinking, these are the first to become ground under when any repressive regime desires to take over. (i’ve only just started PERSEPOLIS 2.) and what would be more understandable than to follow a young girl growing into womanhood who is both our surrogate into an unfamiliar world and the prodigal daughter who has to leave home in order to survive.

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