Last night I had the opportunity to watch Persepolis, a movie based on graphic novels by French based Iranian author Marjane Satrapi. Overall, the movie was not bad although it had several historical errors and many shortcomings which I am going to mention in this entry.
If you're informed enough about Iran, this animated film can be a refreshing look at things but if not, you got to read a bit more before seeing this movie. (Boston Globe)
The first 20 minutes of the film is to bash the former Shah of Iran and his late father Reza Shah the great as most ex-Communists and leftists do these days and mislead the viewers to believe that Reza Shah the great was a product of British control over Iran at the time which is an utter nonsense. And it just goes to repeat the same old cliche of conspiracy theorists in the Iranian society. Yes, the vast majority of Iranians still believe that British had something to do with installing 'Reza Shah' to power and they're unable to see the facts of the past, and to accept that Reza Shah was not installed by the Brits. Reza Shah disliked the colonial powers and was an extreme nationalist who cared for nothing but his own shattered country. The other shortcoming of this animated film was to repeat the same terrible anti-Shah nonsense that you can hear in most 'Marxist-Islamist' circles today. The first 20-30 minutes were badly wasted to tell the clueless western viewer that the Shah was wrong to prosecute the Stalin supported Azeri separatists of Iran in 1946-47, who had orders from the 'Kremlin' to disintegrate Iran from within. Yes, according to Ms. Satrapi's accounts, it was okay for a Stalinist group to seize parts of Iran, but it was wrong for the legal ruling government to stop them. One has to remember that Ms. Satrapi basically comes from a Communist family where his uncles and father are/were proudly anti-Shah Marxist activists.
What disturbed me most through out the entire movie was the fact that 'Satrapi' really failed to mention the source of oppression in post-revolution Iran which is/was Islamofascism and the mullahs who enforce that ideology. No mention of Khomeini in the movie is a mystery to me.
Ms. Satrapi portrayed the late Shah as a commie-hating brutal dictator, yet she definitely failed to show who the real evil was represented by in post-revolution Iran. Yeah, I saw the moral police behavior towards western clothed persons, or late night parties being busted. But who enforced those morale crushing values? Satrapi failed to tell the viewer about the real source of her misery. If I wasn't from Iran, or didn't know much then I'd not be able to tell who enforced a ban on alcohol or western music.
The graphic novels which this animated movie is based on, are truly reflective of the lives of many Iranians who like Ms. Satrapi suffered a a lot. Though again one has to remember that the story told by the author represents a tiny minority of the Iranian people. And the novels are the memoirs of one specific person and don't really tell us the whole story. I, for one, didn't expect her to talk about my story or stories of others. Persepolis is the story of Marjane Satrapi and for that, it is nothing special. She got to go to Europe because her family could afford it while me and tens of thousands of people like me had to suffer under the war of the cities, and put up with the Islamic regime oppressive system. She got to leave Iran in the mid 1990s again when she got depressed after a short time living under the mullah's rule, but the rest of us had no choice but to stay there and soldier on.
Persepolis animated movie is just about Ms. Satrapi's complicated life and has nothing to do with the vast majority of the people held hostage by the Islamic regime of Iran. Kudos to her for making money and profiting from selling her story but it really doesn't change much for those who still live inside of the country and have to suffer a great deal due to the mistakes Ms. Satrapi's communist father and uncles made in pre-revolution Iran. You need to be informed about the history of Iran before watching any Iranian related movie, otherwise you might run the risk of being misled or misinformed.
At the end, I'd give Persepolis 2 stars out of 5. It doesn't get any better!