Persepolis (2007) Film Review
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
(CHARLOTTESVILLE, DAVINCI) - Persepolis is the biography of a girl, Marjane, who grew up in the palm of the Islamic Revolution circa 1979. Her experiences during the ensuing conflict deeply affect her as a person. Persepolis, the novel, was
adapted into an animated full-length feature film in 2007. Although both cover the same story, there are definitely differences between the two.
Animation helps to bring the story to life. Marji’s liveliness as a child becomes more apparent and exaggerated through animation by adding in nuanced movements unavailable to us in the graphic novel form. Long dreamlike phases or strange psychological trips can be expressed more easily with animation, especially when paired with music, which cannot easily be implemented into a book unless it specifically came with a soundtrack. I cannot give proper critique on the second half of the movie since I have not read the second book, but there is a rather emotional scene in which Marjane struggles through her depression. It is expressed very well through a surreal dive into melancholy insanity. It would be
hard to try and recreate with still pictures. Simply hearing characters’ voices can help bring in a little more emotion, even if it is in a foreign language (the dialogue is in French).
As with most movie interpretations of books, some things have to be cut from the original story in order to shorten it down to a movie-acceptable running time. This, though, led to things feeling too sped up, mainly in the beginning. Some of the scenes that were removed helped make the story feel complete. The movie
may have been better off with a lengthier time in exchange for the scenes which helped everything make a little more sense. For instance, Marjane’s childhood friend and crush is never shown to have moved away to America or is even introduced before he reappears much later. The entire scene with Marji’s maid is skipped, although it is understandable because it covered a topic separate to the rest of the story. Marjane’s first cigarette is not mentioned either, which would have made her constant smoking in the second half of the movie more impactful. A choice which I find odd for the creators is that Siamak takes the role of both himself and Mohsen. This might have saved them run time, or it may have been at the mercy of the animators. The problem lies in the fact that right after this scene Mohsen’s drowning is mentioned with the air that the person watching is
supposed to have a clue who he is.
Overall I believe the book illustrated Marjane’s story better. It has a great blend of both her personal life and the circumstances of the whole of Iran. It helps that she was the one to write her own biography. She knows best what is important to her and can share her experiences with a personal touch which makes a book more interesting to read. The movie doesn’t have that sort of freedom and therefore feels a little more stilted. Even with its animated advantage it cannot quite add up to the book. The movie would probably be enjoyed most by teenagers to young adults looking for a little insight on the history of Iran.