Sunday, April 27, 2008

PERSEPOLIS (US dub) - after careful parent consideration, a film teenagers should see

Some critics are getting a bit sniffy about this English language re-dub of the critically acclaimed French language animted film, PERSEPOLIS. But the great thing about this new version is that you now have more of a chance of dragging along the teenagers, to whom some of the material will speak very directly. PERSEPOLIS is basically a coming of age story and it's disarmingly frank about how girls experience musical crazes, puberty, first love and first heart-break. It's insightful, honest, funny and beautifully hand-drawn, largely in stark black and white against watercolour backdrops.

What gives the movie its depth and importance is that it's essentially a true story of a young girl who grew up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. She starts off as someone who could easily be a Westerner - wearing sneakers, idolising Bruce Lee and obsessed with pop music. But she quickly learns how members of her family have been imprisoned and then killed; she is forced to wear the veil and can't hold hands with her boyfriend in public.

Twice our heroine flees Iran. First, as a mouthy teenager her parents decide to send her to Vienna. She struggles to fit in, and after a disastrous love affair returns to Iran. Finally, when the repression increases and her marriage fails, she leaves her family for good, for Paris.

The dark material is faced head on. Early on we see a young buy shot during the revolution; later we see a Communist stand in front of a noose, and the Iran Iraq war sees batallions fall under fire. Added to this, we have to negotiate suicide, torture and homelessness. So parents should carefully consider whether their kids are ready for this stuff. The good news is that the material is usually shown in silhouette and in a highly stylised form. The best news is that, if your kids are ready for the material, it could prompt some wonderful conversations and reflections on how modern life in the West compares to Iran.

PERSEPOLIS played Cannes 2007 where it won the Jury Prize tied with STELLET LICHT. It also played London and Toronto 2007 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. PERSEPOLIS was released in France, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Tyrkey, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Hong Kong and Japan in 2007. It was released earlier this year in the USA, Poland, Singapore, Italy, Brazil, the Netherlands and Thailand. It is currently on release in Romania, Argentina and on re-release in the UK. It opens in Austrlia in August.

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