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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Persepolis

    This past weekend’s releases were awfully unattractive. The trailer for Fool’s Gold was hardly comedic and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins seemed even lower than Johnson Family Reunion. There are usually better choices for and post-Valentine’s Day. However, art houses on Long Island and in New York City are currently screening a true gem. The graphic novel set by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis, was edited into a single animated presentation. The film is just as unforgettable as its literary source. Don’t be discouraged by the non-fiction story, black and white ‘pictures,’ French voices, or English subtitles. These are its strengths not weaknesses. In history the few represent the many. For every name and face that made it into the textbooks and class lectures, there were plenty who will remain unrecognized for their contribution(s). This is even more problematic when the powerful and winners must select what to say about those they manipulated and defeated. Persepolis is one Iranian woman’s account that reveals the day-to-day life she, her family, friends, and neighbors experienced in over ten years of instability. Marjane is simultaneously unique (for being a royal descendant and raised with liberal ideology) and common (for publicly following the rules and privately rebelling). Her well-paced and emotionally moving narrative is honest, human, self-reflective, and politically conscious. The only color ink scenes are when it is the present before Marjane tells of her past. The black and white allows for greater expression and contrast. Although most of the drawings are done in thick marker, charcoal and crayon pencil could have been used too: but only for shadows and depth not for variations of gray. Some of the most powerful scenes include black silhouettes but white eyes for the dead. Even though an English version is due out soon, the French language sound can convey and emphasize meanings that English lacks. And like a graphic novel, the subtitles or captions, can be read without rushing. Marjane has studied and spoke French fluently her whole life but just as it was unlikely for ancient Greeks and Romans to speak with a British accent, it is unfair that the language of Iran is omitted. Chiarra Mastroianni as the older Marjane, Gabrielle Lopes as the young Marjane, Catherine Deneuve as her mother, Simon Abkavian as her father, Danielle Durrieux as her grandmother, and Francois Jerosme as Uncle Anouche brought to life an already 3D cast of animated people. It could be impossible for Sean Penn, Gena Rowland, and Iggy Pop to better them. Whether you see it in theaters, on DVD, or hopefully eventually on television, Persepolis will take you in, make you laugh, make you cry, and most importantly make you think.

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