Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cartoons for Grown-Ups From Iran

Last Sunday I met David at Lincoln Plaza to see 'Persepolis,' an animated film based on a graphic novel about a young woman's experiences in 70s and 80s Iran and abroad.

It was an excellent experience. It's an autobiographical work by novelist Marjane Satrapi, who works and writes in Paris but was raised in Iran, first under the Shah and then under the ayatollahs.

The film, in French with subtitles, shows usthis experience from the standpoint of a young girl, later a woman, from a middle-class family in Teheran.

Behold, the 5 Parameters of Criticism

1. Four Words That Encapsule: "Bright Individual, Dark Regime.'

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
'People sent to jail
Shh, lower the vail and hide
unique, ebullient you'

3. Oblique Comment: One great thing about animation is that its abbreviated strokes minimize the physical differences between races. It makes the people more universal. I've always noticed this with Japanese animation. By calling a novel 'graphic' we mean that it is in the form of a very long, continuing comic strip - I hope the genre doesn't suffer negative associations from the use of 'graphic' to describe heavy sexual and/or violent content.

4. Insight: Here we see what Iranians lost, in terms of both civil rights and culturally. With all the Shah's defects, his Iran was pluralistic, tolerant, and modernizing. I am told Iranians are very lively and love to sing, dance, celebrate, entertain. Fundamentalism was quite a wet blanket. We see snow in Teheran, reminding us that not all the Middle East is a scorching desert (it can also snow in northern Israel, and parts of Lebanon, Syra, Turkey, and Afghanistan... Morocco's mountains are snow-capped).

5. Link. Metacritic review. Its average 89 rating signifies universal critical acclaim - it is among the 2007's five best-reviewed films.

Here's the film's US trailer:

Here's the novel's drawing style, the script's not easy to read...

Cartoon du Jour:

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