Thursday, August 7, 2008

movie review: Persepolis

Movies don't tend to be my area of expertise. I've had to alert several people that, while I appreciate their enthusiasm for a cinematic experience, I will not remember names or make any cross-movie associations throughout their retelling of the film. They just don't stick.

I rarely see a movie worthy of any form of prolonged analysis. This is not because I do not think they exist, rather it is a simple preference for mind-numbing stupidity or easy humor when I attempt to relax from the daily grind.

This movie reminded me why that is perhaps not always the best approach.

It is animated. That I enjoyed an animated movie is not shocking. Of all genres I've probably seen the most in this one. Persepolis is animated with an obvious purpose of artistic creation. Colors are used sparingly and with deliberate intention. Forms appear and then meld with another to create a sense of time and space much the way they exist within a person; this is a first person account and thus the attention to how movement and thought can best be visually represented is not without reason.

Persepolis captures the growing pains of a nation through the growing pains of a child, and challenges the viewer to consider not only the impact of mass movements on the "whole" but also on the individual. The people, the relationships, the context, the society, the history and the humor capture the complexity of this reality.

What was most refreshing was the intermittent humor. In the midst of serious and sincere portrayals of struggle and confusion there were moments of shared humanity that bridged the gap between the spasms of growth. The scene depicting the physical change to adulthood is spot on. It is followed closely by a scene depicting the physical change of Iran.

The dance to The Eye of the Tiger alone makes seeing Persepolis a worthwhile use of an hour and a half.

Persepolis is beautiful, creative, funny, serious, historical, contemporary and thought-provoking.

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