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March 5, 2021
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Persepolis
(2008-02-29)
(wgvu) - Persepolis is an amazing film, an animated French language story in black and white. It was nominated for an Oscar for Animated Feature this year and lost to Ratatouille. I loved Ratatouille, and watching the ceremony live on TV I was happy it won. The next morning, though, I took in a screening of Persepolis, and my happiness was tempered. Ratatouille may well deserve the award, it's wonderfully rendered, funny, and blissfully celebrates the joys of cooking and eating. But Persepolis is downright profound. It is a coming of age story set during the social upheaval in Iran as the reign of the Shah is overturned with the rise of the Islamic Republic. Satrapi's family was eager for change in government, with her parents eager for a democracy. Marjane discovers that many of her relatives were imprisoned by the Shah, including her communist uncle. The young girl takes to the infectious feeling of revolution that's in the air, chanting Down with the Shah over and over, to the consternation of her family. (clip) The Shah is overturned, and as fundamentalist Islam becomes law, Marjane's family is cautiously optimistic. But soon it becomes apparent that one oppressive system has merely another. Liberties are curtailed, morality police constantly harass, and women are forced to wear head scarves. Satrapi's family eventually secure a visa for Marjane to leave the country for Vienna. On the eve of her flight, Marjane's grandmother gives her some wise advice . Persepolis is proof that animated movies can aspire to art beyond mere entertainment. It's a beautiful and breathtaking film, sad, funny, and true.

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