Amid international controversy, Marjane Satrapi talks animated PERSEPOLIS at Cannes where it debuted to good reviews the other day.

“I never saw it as a cartoon,” the artist said in an interview. The artwork had to be in black and white, and the characters are never cute. There are none of the usual special effects – cars don’t talk, Spidermen don’t fly. But it is funny, imaginative, and sad, bringing the famous books to life.

At Cannes, the animated film in black and white may not be viewed with pleasure by all. There has been word that the Iranian authorities are not pleased.

The visual diaries depict an Iranian girl’s life, growing up under several regimes and revolutions, the rise of the mullahs, the imposition of the veil. It is a dark past, a hard story.

But it is also a movie of surprises: there’s the striking art work, but also the tempo, fantasy, and drama, and the young author’s forceful point of view. The best thing is the sense of real lives – her parents, uncle, grandmother, friends and enemies – throbbing behind the images and voices.

BTW, we hear that Gena Rowlands, Catherine Deneuve, Kirsten Dunst, Iggy Pop, and Sean Penn are doing the voices for the English version, due out this fall from Sony Classics.


  1. Is Persepolis (the comic) available in the U.S.? All this reporting on the movie has made me very interested in the original material.

  2. Yep, the U.S. version (vol. 1 and 2) is published by Pantheon. I read Persepolis a year ago. It’s incredibly good. We have it at our school library, and I recommend it to all my students. An animated version of David B’s Epileptic would be cool.

    Kirsten Dunst? I wasn’t a big fan of her voice work on Kiki’s Delivery Service.

  3. It is a brilliant piece of work, that I hope gets a much needed spotlight. It really opened my eyes to how normal many people in Iran actually are, even though they’re in horrible circumstances.

    The book initially passed me by, since Pantheon books don’t normally get written up in most comic websites (I think I read about it here first, thanks to Heidi).

  4. “I never saw it as a cartoon,” the artist said in an interview.

    Is this Satrapi saying she never envisioned her work as an animated film quoted out of context, or is this Satrapi saying that she doesn’t think of this movie as a cartoon in the same way that hoity-toity writers doing stories about time travel or nanotechnology or global warming will assertively state that they aren’t doing science fiction? The latter would be a somewhat surprising statement for someone who attracted so much attention for doing her memoirs in comic book form when the majority of the American public, at least, still acts surprised when comics are more than just guys in tights punching each other.

  5. I really want to see this as well. The book was great and the cartoon looks very true to it from what I seen.

    It will be nice change of pace to see a black and white cartoon that’s not Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, Anime or Saturday Morning.

  6. Is this Satrapi saying she never envisioned her work as an animated film quoted out of context

    I think this is the correct interpretation. Satrapi does not speak fluent English and this may have been translated from the French as well. Satrapi is very down to earth, which is partly why she chose to tell her story in humble comic form.

  7. Uma das mais belas coisas que já assisti. me contagiou por que eu já assisti mais de 10 vezes. Fantastic!

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