Marjane (voiced by Gabrielle Lopes) is a young Iranian girl who grows up with educated parents who yearn for freedom and justice in their country. Tadji (Catherine Deneuve) and Ebi (Simon Abkarian) respect her inquisitiveness, her love of Bruce Lee, and her declaration that she wants to be a prophet. She is tutored in a love of justice by relatives who suffer for their Communist views. The wisest and most loving presence in this young girl's life is her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) who counsels her to follow her heart and to always act with integrity.
Marjane's family hates the Shah for his policies and his intolerance of any opposition. They hope that the people of Iran will experience freedom when he is gone but they are gravely disappointed in 1979 when a repressive Islamic regime takes control. Marjane expresses her rebellious nature by espousing punk music and purchasing Iron Maiden albums on the black market. Her mother bristles at the shameful treatment of women and the requirement that they wear headscarves. In school, teachers emphasize the nobility of dying as a martyr in Iran's war with Iraq. Marjane points out in class that 300,000 people have been imprisoned for speaking out against the regime. Fearing for her safety, her parents decide to send her to school in Vienna.
In the West, Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) is an outsider once again. She has to overcome the notion that she is a fanatical Muslim. She desperately wants to be a normal teenager but flounders in her first dating experiences. In one very funny sequence, she revises her view of her perfect Austrian boyfriend after he cheats on her.
Marjane is bothered by the way her peers in Vienna take for granted the freedom that is only a precious dream to her parents and zealous relatives who are willing to die for that ideal. She falls into a deep depression and eventually returns to Iran. There her quest to become a creative person of integrity continues despite the repressive Islamic government.
Persepolis is one of the most imaginative films of the year. This black-and-white animated feature from France is based on a four-volume series of graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi covering her childhood and youth in Iran from 1978 through the 1990s. It is directed by Satrapi and fellow illustrator Vincent Paronnaud. 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!
Special DVD features include: "The Hidden Side of Persepolis" - a featurette on the making of the French film; "Behind the Scenes of Persepolis" - the recording of the English version; an audio commentary by filmmakers Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud and actor Chiara Mastoianni on select scenes; animated scene comparisons with a commentary by Marjane Satrapi; and a 2007 Cannes Film Festival Press Conference Q & A with the cast and crew.