CFS: ‘Persepolis’ explores growing up in war-torn Iran

Jenna Galgano

Do you remember how cool you felt when you bought ‘NSync’s “No Strings Attached” album, or how awesome it was when you sneaked into your first R-rated movie? What about the dread that you felt on the first day of high school?  

We’ve all experienced the excitement and tribulations associated with adolescence. 

The positive and negative experiences of our teenage years are important because, collectively, they’ve shaped who we are today. 

Now, try to imagine what your adolescent years would have been like if you were growing up in a country with political and social instability.

“Persepolis” is a brilliantly animated film that illuminates the turmoil just before, during and after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  

However, “Persepolis” is not your typical narrative about political instability. 

 Rather, it’s a spectacularly animated memoir told through the eyes of a precocious young woman, Marjane Satrapi, who beautifully recounts her years living in Tehran during the confusion of Iran’s Islamic revolution. 

The film examines the final days of the Shah’s regime and the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism from the perspective of a young teen, combining politics with the many growth pains of an adolescent. 

Issues such as sex, punk rock, celebrity crushes, identity and the desire to be accepted are just some of the topics brought to life in this poignant coming-of-age story.  

Satrapi based the film “Persepolis” on her four critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novels. Satrapi, the child of faithful Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s final emperors, used the graphic novels to portray her youth during the turbulent Iranian revolution. She then examines her experiences as an adolescent in Austria after her mother sends her there for school. 

Later, she depicts her return to Iran, where she encounters and prevails over obstacles associated with the beginnings of adulthood and finally she decides to move to Paris and start a new life.  

The film, which was animated by French comic book artist Vincent Paronnaud, also draws on Satrapi’s brilliant humor and propensity to be brutally honest. 

“Persepolis” was awarded with the jury prize during the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was a nominee for an Academy Award.

 “Persepolis” also graced many Top 10 lists during 2007. However, the film was roundly criticized in Arab countries and communities.

 In fact, the film was initially banned in Lebanon because clerics thought that it shed a negative light on Islamic history and culture. 

The ban was lifted after objections raised by Lebanese social groups eventually “Persepolis” was shown in two cultural centers in Tehran. 

Mahmoud Babareza, the chief of public relations at the Rasaneh cultural center discussed his view of the controversy surrounding the film, saying, “When a film is not shown, people make all sorts of misconceptions. Cinema is cinema, after all, and it should not be put into a limited political context.”

“Persepolis,” the third feature in the ongoing Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “I Know a Place,” will be shown four times in Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 7 at 3:30 and 7 p.m.; and Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. 

Admission is free for students with ID from any academic institution and $5 for all others.

 Nasser Chour of the communication department will be at the Monday evening screening to introduce the film and will end with a discussion afterward.