Friday, July 04, 2008
I see that Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis is now available on DVD. This is the only "grown-up" movie my wife and I made it out to see last year. I can't imagine another movie taking hold of my imagination more completely, or provoking feelings nearly as deep and conflicted. In my attempt to come up with something unique to say about this unusual movie, I paged back in my journal to see what my first impressions were coming out of the theater. I wrote one sentence: "Satrapi's voice is wholly authentic."
This observation still strikes me as being right on the money. Currently our cultural play with memoir and narrative is focused on experimental modes and outright fabrication: "made-up" stuff, in other words. No doubt a viewer could take the same approach with Satrapi's narrative, and attempt to glean the "police court" facts from the fanciful, but Satrapi's presentation is too beguiling and emotionally insistent. Caught between two soul-crushing cultures -- the fatuous self-indulgent West, and the spiteful religious fascism of her native country -- she patiently takes account of everything she has loved and lost. This is a very beautiful film, and not a bad primer for North Americans unsure of a people and geography we have committed ourselves to for decades to come.