I first read Persepolis in four parts, in French, in a big FNAC store. You didn't find comic books like this in the UK anywhere, let alone in our equivalent big media shops to be found on every high street. Coming from the independent publishing house "L'Association," of course it was going to be good, but this one was special: a story with gravitas that spoke about the kind of everyday life that isn't often told in the Western world.
The book has long been translated into many languages, and is now France's submission for the 2008 Foreign Language Academy Award. They share the same story, of little Marjane growing up in Iran during the Revolution and moving to Austria to study following the fundamentalists taking power. Of course, it's a political film. But it's also a universal tale about coming of age, and the tone is perfect. With Marjane's activist family, it's the personal politics that are important. The specific external constraints of the times are elegantly explained, and filtered through their household spectrum. Marjane reacts to her surroundings as an overly curious child who plays air guitar to illegally-bought Iron Maiden tapes and passionately violates the absurd laws inflicted upon women whenever possible, while remaining proud of her country.
All of these event are conveyed in a beautiful hand-drawn style, which has been enriched by Satrapi collaborating with Vincent Paronnaud, a French graphic artist. She has said that "alone I would have made a Bergman, except more boring. And he would have made a Scorsese!" And so, despite the incredible violence and tragedy that is integral to this tale, these moments of reality are always tempered with another, good-spirited and optimistic vision of Iran as a place that everyone can empathise with. It is an important story for these times, beautifully told and a joy to watch. As Marjane says herself, it's "pro-Iran ... a humanistic story ... if people watch this movie and at the end say "That could be me," for me that is what I want the most."
Here's the film's website,
which has a nice 'making of' section.