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Netflix Journal: Persepolis

Netflix thought I might "really like" this film. The cover image looked neat enough, and the short description certainly qualifies as something I'm interested in. I'm always open to other cultures, views, and personal stories especially if it's in movie form. On top of this, it was nominated for a Oscar. By the end, the film won me over with a unique look, story, and story telling. 



With splashes of color like highlights for special emphasis on a coat or the lips of a stranger, the film makes a sharp contrast between the colored present and the black and white past. Most of the film is told via retrospection. Memories, descriptions, and events are all passed through the flat comic strip stylization. War, revolution, tears, and lavenders all fall in and out of the life of young Marjane Satrapi. I knew when I first saw how the faces were drawn, flat and resting upon the backgrounds, that the film was heavily inspired by some unknown comic. And i was right. 

From what I can tell the original comics are based on a true story which makes the film based on true events. Aside from it being foreign, I could tell that it had such roots. There's something about the type and order of presented details that screams "this is how it was" and not "this is what I think will be the most interesting." At some point, I stopped trying to be wowed and enjoyed simply being impressed. I don't know enough about the world. Foreign countries, foreign people, and foreign problems are all... foreign to me. The more learn the more it seems like I'll never know, which makes it difficult to imagine the kind of life Marjane lived. And this is why I find the story so wonderful. 



And the telling of it. Marjane comes of age, but what does that mean? What kind of resolution am I left with? What did I learn? Did we change for the better? Marjane is such a real, awkward, and hard to fully root for character that I feel like I met her in person. The telling of her story is neither western (American) or eastern (Japanese). Time rolls along without dwelling on any event major or minor. Things just happen and as a view you sit there and collect them. With no universal or binding theme to speak of, we must make what we can of Marjane's story. You might not have expected an easy answer, but this film doesn't even pose the question.  And that is inspiring in itself. 

It's like the Iranian version of My Neighbors the Yamadas, a Ghibli film I watched last week and haven't gotten around to writing a Netflix Journal about. Yes, Netflix. I "like it." 

Reader Comments (2)

Before I left for China I was planning on reading the original Persepolis comic, but alas I never did get around to it. Based on your insight, I think that I will have to check out the movie. Thanks.

I must say though, I almost laughed aloud when I read "The telling of her story is neither western (American) or eastern (Japanese)". Surely, you don't think that the world, or at least the one of storytelling, exists in these dichotomies? I'm not sure if you conveyed your meaning right there. :/

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Primed

@ Daniel Primed


I have the most experience with stories from America and Japan. Or perhaps, these are the styles that I write about and watch most often. In my head I have a map of different storytelling styles. I wanted to convey that this story was very unlike two styles I know very well. But instead of explaining the mental map, I just left it how it is. :(

I guess I follow stories from other places around the world, but I typically don't remember where they're from or author names. Really, I like to evaluate things purely based on theory cause I don't have to worry so much about histories or cultural categories. I'll leave all of that to you!

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