(directors: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud; screenwriter: based on the graphic novels by Ms. Satrapi; animation coordinator: Christian Desmares; editor: Stéphane Roche; music: Olivier Bernet; with the voices of: Chiara Mastroianni (teenage and adult Marjane), Catherine Deneuve (Tadji), Danielle Darrieux (Marjane’s grandmother), Simon Abkarian (Ebi), Gabrielle Lopes (young Marjane), François Jerosme (Uncle Anouche); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Marc-Antoine Robert/Xavier Rigault; ; 2007-France-in French with English subtitles)
“Has more intelligence than the usual animation.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The cheeky animated feature, mostly in black-and-white (gives way to color only in flash-forwards to an older, wiser, and lonelier codirector Satrapi in a Paris airport) and in hand-drawn animations, vividly tells a political story as seen through the eyes of Marjane Satrapi. It is directed by Satrapi and fellow illustrator Vincent Paronnaud. It depicts Iranian comics writer Satrapi’s four graphic novels that relate with a wry humor and a sharp political edge her childhood in late 1970s and ’80s Tehran, schooldays in Vienna, her return to Iran, university days, a failed marriage and, finally, her decision in her mid-20s to become an exile in Paris.

Satrapi comes from an educated, liberal, shah-hating family, who when she was only nine welcomed the fall of the shah in the late 1970s only to see the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 Iranian Revolution bring on a brutal series of repressions and force women to be stripped of their previous liberties and made to dress in headscarves while in public.

While being autobiographical and a format for the film’s exiled heroine trying to figure out where she best belongs, the whimsical and yet somewhat bleak film nevertheless touches base with the political events that not only altered Satrapi’s life but radically changed history. This clever animation has more intelligence than the usual animation, nevertheless it never completely thrilled me with things I didn’t already know, it didn’t completely hold my attention and its conclusions seemed more ordinary than earthshaking. I must let on that I’m no fan of animation, thinking of it mostly as a high-concept cartoon.

Catherine Deneuve was the voice of Mrs. Satrapi, Marjane’s mother.

It won the Jury Prize at Cannes.

Persepolis (2007)