I just finished watching Persepolis today. It’s always interesting to see personal stories since the dry facts will say what happened in Iran, but not how it feels to be there. With that in mind, it was certainly an odd film; a coming-of-age story with the Iranian Revolution in the background. It always builds up hope for a better future then quickly proceeds to dash them in the next scene, but I guess that’s how it must have felt to live there (my Iranian friends greatly distrust the country and its crackdown on the Internet). I really felt for every new victim of the authorities even when they were just barely introduced.
On the brighter side, I enjoyed Marjane Satrapi’s candidness about her life, with highlights being young Marji’s adorable naivete, her close family connections, all the ways she stuck it to the man (or woman), her amusing description of puberty, and that one scene where she talks about how so many people died for the revolution, and she nearly threw her life away on a banal love story (more on that later). Speaking of which, it must be awkward to openly display your fuck-ups, but hey, we all have done many things we wish we hadn’t. It’s what you learn from it that defines who you are. One motif that was particularly interesting was the Islamic dress code. I can’t imagine how anyone can be so afraid of getting turned on that they’d crack down on the slightest (innocent) movement. And yet, life wasn’t all too welcoming in Vienna either. Marji intended the film to be universal, after all.
There’s one message that particularly resonates with me; how you can hear and see the world turning around you, yet be so disconnected from it all. Marji’s Austrian hipster “friends” spout anarchist dogma, yet are utterly clueless to the world, Marji’s ex-husband barely responds to a person dying, and even Marji herself has her own life to contend with. The world is so full of injustice, yet to a university student spending Friday nights writing this blog, all that almost becomes just an abstraction. I know about it, and yet I don’t know it. Hurricane Sandy sounds like an experience, even maybe an exciting one (people have said this, though I honestly can’t fault them), but it sure isn’t fun and games for the people who have to rebuild their lives from it. There are so many things we cannot truly understand, but it does help to listen.
Overall, the film is especially good for understanding the situation in Iran, but at its heart it’s just a tumultuous, sometimes darkly humourous chronicle of life. Definitely worth a watch.