Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Animated biographical true story

In 1951 Mohammed Mossadegh was elected Prime Minister of Iran. He became enormously popular when he nationalised the British Petroleum company which controlled the county’s oil reserves. In 1952 U.S. President Eisenhower authorised a covert operation to protest against Mossadegh. Following violent demonstrations he was deposed in August 1952 and replaced by Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. With American financial backing the Shah modernised the Iranian infrastructure and at the same time crushed all forms of political opposition. His autocratic form of government (one run by a self-appointed ruler as sole dictator) met with opposition culminating with major demonstrations in January 1978 by supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini. The so-called Iranian Revolution of strikes and demonstrations paralysed the country and its economy with the result the Shah fled in January 1979. Four months later the Ayatolla was installed as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Shortly thereafter Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution, and with the Shah ousted, Hussein had ambitions to position himself as the new strong man of the Middle East. He also sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. The Iran-Iraq War began on September 22, 1980 but by 1982 Iranian forces managed to push the Iraqi army back into Iraq. The war then continued for six more years until 1988, when Khomeini accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations.

Chiara Mastroianni: the older Maryjane Satrapi
Gabrielle Lopes: the young “Marji”
Catherine Deneuve: her mother
Simon Abkarian: her father
Danielle Darrieux: her grandmother

Taking a rather novel approach this film is mostly in black and white (with just present-day scenes in colour) making use of simple line drawings. And it works because our focus is on the story rather than admiring the usual elaborate almost life-like animation generally seen. The music is note perfect (no pun intended) and the voices fit the characters beautifully.

The period of growing up is never easy for anyone but we see that the changing political situation can make it even more difficult.

for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language and brief drug content.

Persepolis was the ancient capital of the Persian Empire built around 560 BC during the reign of Cyrus the Great. It is situated some 70 km northeast of the modern Iranian city of Shiraz.

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