Oscar buzz accompanies the stateside release of this animated memoir of a young girl growing up in revolution-era Iran, already honored with a Jury Prize at this year's film festival in France

By Nisha Gopalan
Updated November 05, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Marjane Satrapi/Vinvent Paronnaud
  • Movie

It may take place during Iran’s Islamic revolution, but the big-screen adaptation of writer-artist Marjane Satrapi’s 2003 graphic novel Persepolis has the makings of any kick-ass comic-book movie. Its superhero: a justice-seeking, wisecracking young girl. Her disguise: a mysterious sable veil. The nemesis: a dude who goes by the moniker of…the Ayatollah!

Nixing offers to turn her acclaimed illustrated memoir into a TV series or a big-budget Hollywood movie, Satrapi chose to codirect an animated film, making certain her bittersweet life story wouldn’t be turned into an unrelatable Third World costume drama. ”I’m [not only] representing lots of Iranian people,” she told EW when the book was published, meaning that after 9/11, folks worldwide were counting their blessings — and their civil liberties. ”I’m even representing lots of American people.”

In the subtitled film, a precocious girl grows up in Tehran during the ’70s and ’80s, when the Shah was overthrown by radical Muslims led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The fallout? Females had to don veils, schools became vessels for propaganda, and some of the Satrapis’ loved ones were executed. ”All this injustice…[made] me extremely angry,” said Satrapi, who now lives in Paris. ”The only way to escape…was to laugh.” In the movie, her fretful mom (voiced by Catherine Deneuve) and plucky grandma (Danielle Darrieux) look on as the goofy, rebellious Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) obsesses over boys and secretly indulges in Western offerings like, oh, Survivor’s ”Eye of the Tiger.” A firecracker social commentary, Persepolis shared the Jury Prize at Cannes and has already sparked Oscar talk. Let’s see Spider-Man swing that.


  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 95 minutes
  • Vincent Paronnaud
  • Marjane Satrapi