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Feature Film

Persepolis opens today


Persepolis, opening today in New York and Los Angeles, is as far from the Hollywood status quo as you can get. It’s an important film, not only for its brilliant presentation of an incredible true life memoir, but for its artistry and its courage to take animated features toward a new path of personal, autobiographical storytelling.

Autobio is common in alternative comics and animated shorts, but rarely at feature length. Bakshi’s Heavy Traffic certainly blazed this trail over 35 years ago, but that was then and this is now. If animated features are to progress, animators need to feel comfortable to tell stories beyond the commercial constraints required by the Hollywood motion picture industry. Stories must get deeper, visuals must evolve, and all the techniques available to animation artists should be used (let me note that Pixar stands unique among the major animation studios, artfully pushing the medium in a commercially entertaining way acceptable to both Hollywood and to mainstream audiences).

Sony Pictures Classics deserves kudos for taking a chance on releasing this (and The Triplettes of Belleville several years ago) in a country weary of cartoon features and less demanding of its motion picture entertainment. Already garnering rave reviews, Persepolis is positioned to influence the medium and may inspire further independent animated features.

But will it? I’m not sure. It’s not that I’m looking for more films to look or feel like Persepolis, rather, I’m hoping for more artists and cartoonists like Marjane Satrapi who will bring their passions to animated films. That’s how our artform will grow — and what I hope Persepolis will do.

Love it or hate it, I encourage you to see the film. Below is video of creator/co-director Satrapi discussing the influences of comic books on her life and work. Merry Christmas.

  • Matt Sullivan

    As with all animated films, I wish it success. And while I’m at it, MERRY CHRISTMAS ANIMATION COMMUNITY! I hope everyone has a great holidayand gets to spend lots of time with their families.

    And for those of you out in Los Angeles or New York ( especially new York, it’s cold ) go out and support the writer’s strike! Bring em a donut, or give donations, or anything you can to support them. I know we in animation aren’t very fond of writers, but they deserve to be paid for their work.

  • TJR

    I am anxious to see this one. I live in OC but could make it to Los Angeles. Let’s hope for a wider release.

  • An outstandingly refreshing film with some very brave structural and visual decisions. In my top three of the year undoubtably.

    Some very wise words there too, Jerry – well said! (I’m happily leafing through my amazing new Nicktoons art book btw – awesome work Mr Beck!)

    Merry Christmas one and all.

  • red pill junkie

    Merry Xmas dear Brewmasters and to all the people with Toons inside their brains! :-)

  • Ceaser

    Too bad, like Belleville, this is near impossible to find.

  • I know people want to support the writers, thats all fine and good but in the end of the day, the strike had to happen, ergo leading into the post modern stone age phase of the entertainment industry as we knew it.

    But this comment is about the emotional work that Madam Satrapi has produced. She might be the one that ends all the crap festered between both Christian and Islamic nations (I truly honestly believe this). She and her work may never solve conficts in those nations, that is a much deeper problem than anything that this movie can solve/showcase. What this movie does in the end of the day, is show a utter sadness not from her or the movie but how, and who is supporting, playing and promoting the movie and how that is a much bigger effect than anything else the movie shows.

    For in the honest mention of Sony’s Pictures Classics have done to support this film, the rest of the business seems very very behind the times. It is almost scary to think after all of the work many of the animatiors in LA, NY, etc and the writers and so on… that we still on the same playing field we were back in the late 1980’s (88-89). In turn, outside of 15 or so animated films- Not many have made such impact as Waking Life and this film.

    As much as I am a guy who wants to make money and protect companies that want to make money on animation, I get really pissed when such films as this one is the execption and never the rule. If Sony wasnt a progressive company as it is now, this movie would never ever get a chance in the states. The Nation is in a place where it has become fasistic without cause, consertitive without constrant. Art has become Art House Egotism, High Class has become High Class perveristy. This is nothing against the film or Sony, they did a fantastic job.

    But after looking this movie, I get really angry because such great work cant be seen by those who really need to see it. Those in our country who cant respect it, and those in the western world that would kill there own daughters just because there in disagreement on how to dress so one does not lose there own soul.

    Those Soccer Moms, to damn busy wondering where is the “femisist” hero after Miss Hudgens and Miss (Lynn) Spears are making this nation of great women and mothers, and daughters fighting out in Iraq, a nation of whores and fools need to look at this film and see what will happen if you dont take action now and prevent such a future to happen, this isnt about IRAN during the 70’s, 80’s- this is going now in very simple levels.

    The younger females, stuck on stupid and on Inusihia, need to see this film and be HUMBLED that your even are alive to be “stupid” or even see Inusihia in this nation and that being just a “grrl” isnt enough anymore.

    Every one of faith, because you need to question why such things continue to happen. Why even despite the hope from heaven, the promise of Christmas, we are no closer to honesty between the sexes, races and still fighting wars because my “God” got bigger balls, better looking bitches and bigger fists than you.

    And the major corprations. Of course for many reasons, but the most importaint reason, why Sony gives a damn and the rest of you DONT (outside of Pixar). Why they are willing to move forward, while you idiots are still stuck on HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, HOW TO BEAT IT!?

    Thanks Jerry, Merry Christmas to all of you in Cartoon Brew.

  • iluvhatemail

    Just saw it. What an amazing piece of animation. Everything worked so well. This movie deserves every award it can win.

  • The inspiration to do new kinds of animated features isn’t lacking – its the cash to do it. Although this film isn’t a personal favorite – I appalaud it’s risks and execution and hope it does very well to inspire the moneymen to invest in these kinds of projects.

  • Thanks for posting and supporting this film so strongly. I just want to chime in and say it is indeed a very good film. There should be more like it and hopefully there will be. Animation is young but the future is unlimited!

  • purin

    I recently bought and read the graphic novels, and I plan to see this film as soon as I’m able.

    The thing that makes me infuriated is that whenever you want to see a movie like this, a movie that’s been making waves and winning awards, something new and different, it’s only playing in a few theaters.

    I’m fortunate enough to be able to go out to see this movie at all, but how many theaters in New York are playing this? Two. How many in LA? Three. Seriously! Let’s consider the message, the context, the relevancy of the issues in the movie, the strained relations with Iran. This movie has press, admiration from critics, awards, including a possible Oscar, and it’s only playing in FIVE THEATERS IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY!

    Something is very wrong here.

  • I can’t fault Sony for the size of this release. A B&W cartoon about life in Iran? Whew! And people thought Ratatouille would be hard to promote…

    A wide release would be a costly box office “failure”, the small release will pack a few art houses, build good buzz, maybe earn an Oscar nod, and almost certainly lead to a DVD release, which is what we really want. And that’s better than most foreign features which never make it here in any form.

  • Pedro Nakama

    I plan on seeing this film. I saw the trailer and was blew away by it.

  • Tee

    I wish I could join all the raves about Persepolis. I agree with the feeling that animated features should be more than silly re-hashed jokes, and the subject matter of Persepolis was certainly very important and showed great courage to turn it into a feature length animated film. So, I’m very much behind the content, courage, and importance of the film, however, and I guess I’m alone on this, I felt very disappointed that the emotions were not transmitted to me through the characters, instead of the words. The characters seemed wooden and unemotional, and I felt such an important subject should have been charged with fear and joy and anger and wonder. I got none of that from the characters. Perhaps, I should see it again, but that was my feeling coming out of the film, as much as I wanted to love it going in.

  • purin

    Well, I wasn’t expecting a huge wide release, but… how about (gasp!) TEN theaters in the whole US of A? Maybe even twenty, but that would be a little too ambitious, huh? I guess there aren’t enough potential viewers among the millions of US citizens to warrant that many theaters.

  • Steve Gattuso

    purin, the first goal here is to get the Oscar buzz going. Get it some well-deserved nominations in a few critical places and they can at least do a wider art house release across the country. After that will be a DVD release.

    Sony is actively trying to support the film in ways that make sense. They’ve courted the critical press and key organizations in film and animation, even going to far as to send DVD copies of the movie to voting members. I know they did it for ASIFA-Hollywood, because I have my own copy in front of me as I type. No doubt AMPAS and the Golden Globes folks also have it.

    I saw this movie during the Summer at the Chinese. I found it to be an amazing movie, sublime in presentation, careful in covering the topic without being pedantic or excessive. It’s a wonderful movie, and certainly a tie for best Animated Feature (Hell, best movie period) with “Ratatouille.”

  • Steve G

    I’m not a fan of this film, but I am glad to see that a small independent film like this is getting attention. Though I doubt it would if it had not been set in Iran partially. I think it has the veneer of being ‘important’ in the same way babel, Crash and Happy Feet did.
    It definitely could be a frontrunner with the Academy though the fact that it’s subtitled might cause it some problems.

  • Teri

    I just saw this film at The Santa Fe Film Festival where it won “Best of the Fest.” I was honored to be able to see it, as I know it is in very limited release.

    I think this film is extremely relevant and timely. The theater was packed and I think it left an unshakable impression on everyone who was able to attend. The style alone is amazing and then you add in that it is autobiographical and WOW!

    I am inspired and encouraged that these kinds of films are being made. Even if they don’t get a wide release at least they are being produced. I can’t wait for this to come out on DVD, so I can enlighten and inspire my students.

  • ChrisSketch

    Need I remind anyone that it was a too-soon too-wide release with improper marketing that killed any chance that “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (which opened against God-fucking-Zilla by the way) may have had do become a mainstream hit?

    I believe that “Juno” made the festival rounds this past summer correct? Built up a good critical buzz, got the word of mouth going. Now it will (should) do fairly well at the box office. Certainly not number one but more than would get as a no name art house film against titles like “I am Legend” and the goddamn Chipmunks.

    Now, does Persepolis need a wider release? Yes. But to get that, it needs a buzz around it. And I’m talking more than insider buzz, which given that its animated, and foreign, is highly unlikely.

    That said, I look forward to seeing Persepolis whenever I possibly can given my location in southern Louisiana. The books blew me away long before I knew even knew about the film. Personally I’m glad that it hasn’t been doomed to obscurity with a too wide release.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    Roger Ebert, as part of a documentary of “A Hard Day’s Night,” said that if Richard Lester had made the film in color they wouldn’t be doing this interview. By staying with Satrapi’s black-and-white style, it’s way more effective than if it had received the Hollywood treatment. Looking forward to its wider release and/or availability on DVD — I’ve given up seeing films in theaters due to hearing loss and have to read captions to know what’s going on anymore.

  • Chuck

    Does anyone know where a list of future destinations will be posted? We received Triplets in Chapel Hill when it was released and Paprika, which I missed out on, appeared in Cary so I’m hoping that Persepolis will arrive in the Raleigh area before too long.

  • “Persepolis”, along with Joe Sacco’s “Palestine”, are two comic books I have been able to give to my “non-comic book reading” friends and have them enjoy. If the movie is as good as the Marjane Satrapi’s books were (and its given enough time to get a “word of mouth buzz”) hopefully it will help widen the audience that would go see an animated feature as well.

  • Saw it yesterday! Really amazing movie, do yourself a favor and check it out!!!