Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes Benites, Gabrielle Lopes, Fran�ois Jerosme
Written by: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, based on the comic book by Marjane Satrapi
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language and brief drug content
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 05/23/2007

Persepolis (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Iran: So Far Away

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Here's a movie about the recent history of Iran that could never have been made in Iran. Come to think of it, it's also the type of film that could never be made in America: a mostly black-and-white, hand-drawn animated feature about politics.

At age 9, Marjane Satrapi saw her entire world changed when the Islamic Revolution hit Tehran. Women were forced to wear the veil and people -- including Marjane's beloved uncle -- were being imprisoned and executed. In private, Marjane listens to her educated parents and their opinions on the war and its outcome. It fuels her imagination and she seeks her own types of freedom, including bootleg cassettes of Iron Maiden.

As a teenager, she travels to Austria, but can't make a home for herself there. Currently exiled in France, Satrapi finally told her story through a series of powerful graphic novels, now published in one volume and translated from French into English. Paired with co-director Vincent Paronnaud, Satrapi has turned her comics into a powerful animated feature (also in French).

Though the film leaves out the subtle and complex political nuances of the book in favor of speed and brevity, it's also a good deal livelier and funnier. The movie makes the most of the visual medium and occasionally takes a break from the constant text that drove the book. It's a truly surprising, and quite extraordinary achievement. I would take it over any of this year's digital movies about talking rats and bugs.

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