Persepolis is a simple story told by simple means. The films pictures are arranged into the chronicle of a young girl’s, Marjane, coming of age in difficult times. Persepolis, austere as it may look, is full of warmth and surprise, alive with humor and a fierce independence of spirit.
Marjane’s Grandmother is the sturdy matriarchal anchor of Persepolis, a source of humor, advice, and moral guidance for young Marjane, and also embodiment of the film’s no nonsense feminism. Like her grandma, Marjane is a natural rebel, someone who takes freedom as her birthright and dares the world to challenge her. Marjane grows up in a family that suffers under the Shah’s dictatorship. Against the forces of intolerance and superstition, Marjane, following her grandmother’s example, takes an impetuous stand as a champion of enlightenment. The political dimensions of her story are as clear and bold as her graphic style, but Persepolis traffics more in feelings than in slogans, and dwells most persuasively on the uncertainty and ambivalence of adolescence. As in Our Cancer Year, Satrapi’s illustrations are similar in the way that they both lean more towards trying to show us the true emotions coming from the characters, rather than trying to be perfect drawings.
Persepolis dramatizes this dilemma without forcing in into an easy or sentimental resolution. Persepolis is whimsical and daring, a perfect expression of the imagination’s resistance to the literal minded and the power mad, who insist that the world can only be seen in black and white.