Persepolis is a war/drama film, which is animated in 2D by hand. I wanted to watch the DVD and write about it because it is so different in style and content to films I usually choose and I felt that it would broaden my horizons.
Persepolis is about a young Iranian girl's memories of growing up, and is based on the real-life experiences of Marjane Satrapi. Marjane sits at a Paris airport and looks back to her childhood during times of war and revolution, her difficult teenage years in Vienna, her return to Iran to study and her final escape to Paris. We see the way she has to deal with social problems such as strict religious rules for women and music and alcohol being banned. She also has to deal with personal problems such as the break-up of her relationships and her marriage; being apart from loved ones; having nowhere to live, and feeling lonely and depressed.
The movie is mostly in black and white, as this is used to show her memories.
I really like the graphic demonstration of her feelings, even though this is done in a very simple way it is highly effective. For example when she is being treated by a psychiatrist for depression, she takes an overdose of the tablets she is given and she is shown flying around on the screen, with images of lots of different tablets.
I also like the way that smoke is animated throughout the film, in a very unusual, spiralling fashion. The lighting and the scenery really helped to create the right atmosphere and were very effective.
The appearance of the characters and the way they behaved in her memories changed, to correspond with her feelings about the person, which made it very powerful to watch and helped me to identify with the way she felt. For example, when Marjane was living in Vienna, she had a landlady that she really did not like. The landlady was rather prim and proper and had a small, yappy dog, which used to wet on the carpet. The landlady was animated with an exaggeratedly snooty air and her dog was drawn with a very ugly and distorted face and body. I also liked the way that her ex-boyfriend, who was a playwright, had a distorted face and acted like a child when Marjane was annoyed with him.. This was the opposite to how he was portrayed when she loved him. This technique really impressed me.
One criticism that I could make is that through the animation, the characters’ faces showed either extreme expressions or none, when it may have been more interesting to show more subtle changes on their faces. This may have been to emphasise the dream-like quality of the memories where faces are remembered as e.g. happy or unhappy. Another improvement to the film that could have been made, is to show the background pictures as changing more, as sometimes it seemed as if it was one drawing that did not alter.
I think this film will really influence my animating from now on. The way that the film tackles a very serious subject matter but uses lots of humour has made me think about how I could animate a story with a thought-provoking message. I have also been inspired by the very creative way that Marjane’s feelings are passed across in her animated memories.
I now plan to watch the animated film Waltz With Bashir (on Sky Movies in January), which is about the memories of a soldier in the first Israel/Lebanon war. I think it will be useful to compare the two films.