Friday, May 25, 2007

Persepolis: The Movie

When I first read Marjane Satrapi’s graphic autobiography a few years ago, it stirred all kinds of emotions on so many levels. Mostly it made me think about Malaysia. One can’t help but see how easily man becomes God when law shoves grace aside. (BTW, there’s a sequel out, but you know what they say about sequelitis…)

Here’s a story of one girl’s childhood, one that could have been told by millions who were also brought up in liberal middle-class families. Except for that inconvenient turn in history. In the throes of a popular uprising against the ruling Shah Reza Pahlavi, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in victory and declared Iran an Islamic Republic. The Ayatollah put on the political-religious mantle of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and cloaked the world with the austere face of resurgent Islam.

It succeeds as few graphic novels do, with the obvious comparison to Art Spiegelman’s Maus (another favourite!), which is a well-deserved compliment. Told in straightforward first person narrative, Persepolis is all black and white, yet astonishingly rich in its simplicity. The monochromic look works, because it forces the reader to see how religion at its worse objectifies reality into black-and-white, and subverts morality into ideology.

Now, the author evidently believes this book would make a good movie. An animated adaptation in the style of the book is nearing completion, written and directed by her. Marjane Satrapi appears to be thrilled to bits. I am not sure, but the stills look very promising indeed. One is tempted to say, “like Sin City” but Persepolis is as different as ink is from paper, although both movies have their origins in comics.

Needless to say I shall be watching out for its release. But tell me, is this movie a good idea or what?

Stills from the upcoming movie
Marjane Satrapi's blog cum production journal
Bookslut interview with the author

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