Film a reminder of the human cost of war

A scene from Persepolis, screening at the Nelson Film Society next week.

A scene from Persepolis, screening at the Nelson Film Society next week.

The animated feature Persepolis, a reference to the ancient capital of the Persian Empire, was originally a black and white autobiographical picture-book by expatriate Iranian Marjane Satrapi.

It depicted her childhood in Iran during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. 

It is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling gem, the simple images are effective and bold and there is humour throughout.

Vincent Paronnaud, a French comic-book artist, joined with Satrapi to make this wise and quirky 98 minute animated feature, taken from her original graphic novel, and crafted it into a simple black and white autobiography.

It has received numerous awards, including the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature that same year.

Imbued with rich characters and with the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve and Gena Rowlands, it also features a small cameo appearance by Paronnaud, when he (man with glasses) walks past in the airport scene.

Political implications from the film saw the Iranian government send a letter to the French embassy in Tehran protesting against the movie. This pressured the organisers of the 2007 Bangkok Film Festival to drop it. 

In July the following year, the Iranian embassy in Wellington protested to the Helen Clark-led Labour Government about its screening during the 37th Wellington Film Festival.

Marjane's child's-eye view of surviving life under the Shah encapsulates a huge amount of historical detail in its breezy flights of fancy. Dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned beatings and revolutionary heroes allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.

Personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity  and, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love with. 

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Persepolis,  Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, (France/USA 2007) M 98 mins, HD. English subtitles.  Nelson Film Society, Thursday March 16, the Suter Cinema, 208 Bridge St, Nelson, 6pm. Members only, join at the door. 

 - Stuff

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