Saturday, February 02, 2008


i was a big fan of the graphic novel when it came out years ago. but i was wondering how it would work as a film. it was hard to imagine how the the clunky stylized images would work as animation. mrs. noz and i saw the film version last night and i think it really worked well.

both the movie and the comic tell the life story of marjane satrapi, the author of the story. it's basically a coming-of-age story, set in the context of modern iranian history. satrapi's family was qajar royalty, who were knocked out of power by the first pahlavi shah and then became wealthy westernized and sometimes radical upper class of iran. as a girl satrapi lives through the fall of the shah, the heady post-shah period when political prisoners all went free, the rise of the mullahs, and the war with iraq. because marjane is so rebellious and outspoken in an oppressive society, her parents sent her to europe for her teenage years. she struggles to adjust to life in a free society when she arrives, and then struggles again to adjust back to the oppressive climate in iran when she returns.

the film doesn't try to educate the viewer that much about iranian history. it never goes into how, for example, the mullahs ended up on top when the shah fell. instead, it's really about marjane. the history of the country is a backdrop, not the central point of the story.

but it is the backdrop that makes the story interesting. it was particularly fun to watch how a rebellious kid copes in a society that doesn't tolerate rebellion. the film follows the graphic novel quite closely, which means it has some of the same weaknesses. when i read the graphic novel, i thought the period she was in exile in austria was less interesting than her early childhood in iran, and i thought the same thing about the film.