Persepolis is the first animated movie that I’ve ever seen that is a non-fiction film on a serious subject. It’s based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in Iran. As far as I can tell it’s all more or less true–at least as true as any autobiography.
The movie is a French production, in French with English subtitles. (It would be hard to imagine an American studio investing in a 2-D animated film on a serious subject, or indeed on any subject.) It is quite well done. It is sharp and insightful and dark and witty and ultimately rather depressing.
I should add that parts of it are quite funny. You can get quite a few laughs when smartalecky kids confront the sanctimonious representatives of a repressive dictatorship. But a lot of the kids end up dead.
This is not an anime. There are no heroics. At the beginning of the story some people do rise up to overthrow a tyrant, but they promptly end up with an even worse tyranny.
This is not a polemical film; it’s deeply personal and sad. Marjane Satrapi has seen relatives and friends executed for holding the wrong beliefs, and other friends torn apart by Iraqi bombs. She has known the grinding fear of living under a totalitarian government and the terrible loneliness of being a teenage exile in a strange country.
In any case I’m glad that I saw it, but I don’t feel eager to see it a second time.