special-event-%e2%80%93-persepolis-jan-15thThis is an adaptation of the comic book series by Marjane Satrapi, the Franco-Iranian artist who grew up in Tehran at the time of the Islamic revolution. The black and white cartoon format deftly portrays with wit and humour the transition from life under the Shah to life in an Islamist state. An animated film, it has great impact and power despite its seemingly simple format. We shall be screening the version released in the UK, with English language soundtrack. (Cert 12A)
Dirs: Vincent Parronnaud/ Marjane Satrapi 91 mins Iran 2007
We are delighted that Dr Ann Miller, of Leicester University French Department, is returning to ABCD once again to introduce and discuss this film with us. Please note this event will start at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Thursday, 15th January 2009



France 2007, French dialogue with English sub-titles, 96 mins (Cert 15)

With introduction and post-screening discussion led by Dr Ann Miller, Leicester University French Department.

This is Ann’s 13th annual visit to abcd to introduce a French film. Her particular specialism, apart from French film, is in the francophone graphic novel, so we are delighted that her film for 2009 is an animation based on the autobiographical graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi. And in glorious black and white, too.

Based on Satrapi’s novels and co-directed by her and another graphic artist and narrated in flashback, Persepolis is on the one hand the story of Iran including the Shah’s installation by the US/UK, his fall at the hands of the people, and the savage and grotesque 1980s war between Irag and Iran. On the other it’s Marji’s personal story.

“Satrapi’s Persepolis maintains the most appealing visual aspects of a cartoon – as well as its weaknesses. Whether the form keeps the narrative from penetrating more deeply, or whether the inability to penetrate more deeply led Satrapi to resort to a limited and limiting form, is difficult to say. Whichever is the case, the unfortunate result is that Persepolis ultimately lacks the nuance and depth required” (World Socialist Website).

“This autobiographical masterpiece registers on the senses as funny, sad, melancholy, horrific, and hopeful in its examination of one individual’s quest for the holy grail of freedom. We empathize with Marjane’s struggles, are fascinated by the loving support of her relatives, and intrigued by her calling as a prophet and her conversations with God and Karl Marx. This a daring film that is not to be missed!” (

Marjane (as teenager & adult) – Chiara Mastroianni
Marjane’s mother – Catherine Deneuve
Marjane’s grandmother – Danielle Darrieux
Marjane’s father – Simon Abkarian
Directors – Vincent Parronaud & Marjane Satrapi
Editor – François Nabos
Art Director – Marisa Musy


“A beautiful film!”

“Excellent film”

“Sad and beautiful at the same time. Wonderful!”

“Excellent. I enjoyed the book immensely and whilst it would be impossible to include everything in this film, I was in no way disappointed and thought it quite beautiful.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the film and found it gripping. I would recommend it highly – in fact, I should like to see it again.”

“Consistently beautiful, even when portraying words and events that were anything but. Effective portrayal of pathos. I learned a lot about Iranian attitudes and history as it went on. Most unusual and memorable.”

“I thought it extremely good. Beautiful images, especially [of the] sea and nature. The only nice man in it was her father!”

“Enjoyed the film very much – also grateful to our guest [speaker]. [It’s] good to be able to discuss the films.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed his film. The B & W format added to the way emotions and events were portrayed. The amorphous mass of black through the city during the revolution was very disturbing, as it must have been at the time. [The] expressions on faces, particularly children, were wonderful and so simply done. She was an observer of life.”

“The B & W format worked in a way that would not have been possible with live actors. Marjane’s grandmother was always there as the voice of reason.”

“If they had used real actors, the story would have not been so real.”

“Delighted to get to see this film eventually! A poignant, complex film about war politics and exile. I loved the cartoon and the fact that not all the complexity could be shown. It would have had to be so much longer to show the full emotional states [brought about] by the complexity of the circumstances. B & W gave it an added quality, rather than detracted from it.”

“Very expressive. The B & W animation allowed you to focus on the vital points [being] made.”

“Good impressionistic design. Was it a set of political messages or a true picture? This showed how little we really know about life in Iran. [Events] seen from an intellectual viewpoint but wondered whether the average Iranian would be so challenging.”

“An excellent insight into the paradox of was and life in general in a ‘free’ country. [The] escape from home to foreign environment produced a dichotomy where neither of the choices resulted in happiness in any way. To be a refugee must be hell!”

“My first experience of an animated full-length film (except Disney ones). A great medium for this sort of ideological clash. Now I know what the French think English sounds like!”

“Excellent film and interesting discussion”

“Liked the animation [but] felt it would have been better if 20mins shorter. By the end, [I] had lost sympathy with Marjane – [she was] so self-centred.”

“Most of the graphics excellent – [the] animation less so. Trouble is, we’re not used to this format at this length. Not so much a strip cartoon as a Moebius band!”

“Interesting but a little dull. If [the voicing] had been in English, we would have enjoyed the animation more.”

“Subtitles were too fast.”


A:37, B:13, C:4, D:0, E:0 to give 90%