Notes on Persepolis

Persepolis

A few random notes on the French animated feature Persepolis:

• Upon winning the best animated feature prize from the NY Film Critics Circle, Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi said, “In France, they always call the New York critics tough bastards. So thank you, my bastard friends.” Animation director Michael Sporn responded on his blog, “It’d be nice to hear what she might say if she wins an Oscar. She’ll get my vote.”

• The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday the nine films which are advancing to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category. Persepolis, which was France’s entry, was snubbed and didn’t even make the shortlist. I’ve been opposed to the Oscar’s Animated Feature Film category from the very beginning for the simple reason that it continues to ghettoize the art form. Academy voters don’t feel compelled to recognize the merits of animation as film when they know that a special category exists solely for animated features. As the art form continues to mature with films like Persepolis, the flaws of the Animated Feature Film category will only become more and more evident.

• Whoever said animation isn’t a powerful medium and can’t be used to instigate positive change in society? Chicago’s Daily Herald has an interesting article titled “Local Iranians hope Persepolis will open eyes about their homeland.” Says one Iranian interviewed in the piece, “I think Americans are generally very open-minded, but there isn’t a lot on the news about the people of Iran, just its government. Persepolis shows how important it is to see that a country’s government and its people can be different.”

• The box office numbers for Persepolis are deceivingly tiny. While the film placed 28th on the charts last weekend with $187,000, it is performing remarkably well considering that it is only playing in 18 theaters. In fact, it had the second-highest per-theater average of any film playing last week, behind only Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. If there’s any question why the animated art form is viewed so poorly by the general public, it’s because a film like The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything can open in 1300-plus theaters while an animated feature like Persepolis remains virtually inaccessible to the general moviegoing public. One can only assume that distributor Sony Pictures Classics will move Persepolis from its current platform release into a wider release once the Oscar noms are announced next week.


  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    Now that it’s out of contention for Best Foreign Film, Sony can turn to the English language version of Persepolis with voices of Sean Penn and Gena Rowlands. (Too bad the voice of Danielle Darrieux will be lost to Americans.) Then they’ll release it in a wider form. Perhaps with an Oscar nomination the film will turn a US profit. I believe it’s already made back its money in Europe.

  • Paul N

    Persepolis is “coming soon” to a theater a couple of miles from my house. I’m looking forward to it!

  • http://octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    Thank god, I had a chance to see persepolis a while ago and now they’re playing it in my local theater in Berkeley, so I’ll go see it again, and again and again.

    Persepolis is a brilliant movie.
    I cried, I laughed, then I cried some more but also laughed. Can’t think of another film that does that, let alone animated film.

  • http://timrauch.blogspot.com Tim Rauch

    I don’t understand, did Persepolis make the Animated Feature shortlist? God, I hope so.

  • seisyll

    Oh the remark about the veggie tales movie is brutal. I haven’t seen Persepolis yet, but I’ve read Persepolis 1-4. And the irony of this is that a central message of the story is how effortlessly people will flow with the mainstream. How handily intellegence is drowned out by stupidity!

    In an interview, she says, “The real war is not between the West and the East. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people. There is much more in common between George Bush and the fanatics in my country than between me and the fanatics of my country.”

    I can’t say whether the veggie film is truly stupid or not, but it’s utterly ridiculous that anyone would trade it for Persepolis, a film rife with issues about life and death, war, religion and trying to finding one’s self. Imagine if children could see this, along with the films of Majid Majidi or Mohsen Makhmalbaf, just to peek inside Iranian life for themselves.

  • http://www.bobharper.net Bob Harper

    “One can only assume that distributor Sony Pictures Classics will move Persepolis from its current platform release into a wider release once the Oscar noms are announced next week.”

    Which is a good thing that there is an Animated Feature category for films that deserve more recognition. It would’ve gotten snubbed if there were no Animated Feature category, because Hollywood doesn’t get animation and there is no way we can cram it into their heads that the medium is as valid as live action.

  • Inkan1969

    Does anyone know where I can find a release schedule for “Persepolis”?

  • Daniel Mata

    I wouldn’t say that with the release of Persepolis that the medium is continuing to mature. The medium has always been mature, its just that it’s not maturing in the United States.

  • John

    Unless it’s the life story of a famous person (and talented as she is, Marjane Satrapi isn’t exactly a household name), such “edgy” autobiographical pictures tend to be released on a much lower profile, no matter what medium they use.

  • red pill junkie

    I want to see this movie!! Please bring it to Mexico!

  • http://Incoherent-thought.blogspot.com Vincent

    I liked the film, but the genius that thought a black and white film would be ok with white subtitles (Shakes fist) needs a good thrashing.

  • Sky Captain

    Agreed, 100%. And I wish that people used a more realistic animation style (The Zeta Project, Ben 10 AF, Tokyo Godfathers, etc.) when animating films; I’m getting tired of cartoony styles like these.