One can forgive, but one should never forget.Persepolis
is an autobiographical comic by Marjane Satrapi, published in 2000 and adapted into an animated film in 2007. It begins with her childhood in Tehran during the Seventies, as her middle-class family works to bring down the Shah. Soon, the fundamentalists are swept into power, and a new wave of repression begins. Marjane rebels in small ways, by buying smuggled rock tapes and denim jackets, drawing the attention of the police and compelling her parents to send her to Europe. She kicks around Vienna for a few years, alienated by the people there, before returning to a Tehran changed by years of fundamentalist rule.
Both the graphic novel and the film were well received by critics upon their release. The film was nominated for the Best Animated Picture Oscar but lost to Ratatouille
. The Iranian government issued protests against it being shown at various film festivals worldwide, but it allowed a limited screening in Tehran. The film was banned
for a short period of time in Lebanon, as well.
These works contain examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Quite a few chapters from the graphic novel are cut from the film version. They intended to add a couple but cut them out. Some scenes, such as Marjane's various jumping-around from home-to-home were also mentioned but minimalized in the film version. The film also meddles with chronology of some events, most likely in order to streamline storytelling.
- Adaptational Villainy: Markus, to a limited extent. In the graphic novel, Satrapi acknowledges in hindsight that she expected way too much of him, using him as a replacement for several key figures in her life back in Iran, and doesn’t hold him cheating on her against him; the film didn’t mention this realisation, making him look like a plain Jerkass.
- All Men Are Perverts: Used verbatim in the first book by Marjane's mother, after several fundamentalist men make misogynist comments toward her. The fundamentalist Islamist government tended to believe it, using it to justify making women wear the veil to "protect" them.
- Animated Credits Opening: The film's opening credits feature animated clips.
- Anticlimax: At one point, a Revolutionary Guard patrol stops the Satrapis on their way home from a clandestine party. Suspecting them of stockpiling alcohol, the patrol follows them home in apparent preparation to search the house. Whilst Marjane's dad stalls, Marjane and her grandma go inside and dispose of all the alcohol in the house (of which there was a lot). The door opens and... it's Marjane's disgusted father, who simply paid off the Guards.
- Arc Symbol: Jasmine flowers.
- Art Evolution: Marjane's art in the first few pages is strikingly different from the rest of the book. Compare this◊ with this◊. The shading grew cleaner, the lines thicker, and the anatomy much, much better.
- Ascended Extra: Marjane's grandmother didn't have a small role in the graphic novel, but she gained a much more significant presence in the movie.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: The good characters are drawn rather ordinarily while the "bad" characters tend to have their flaws exaggerated and unpleasant expressions. However, this isn't always true, as the waitress who gets revenge on a customer for Marjane looks ugly but is good. And, well, it's a rather simplistic cartoony style, so what passes for "exaggerated physical flaws" ends up as "average". There is also some indication that Marjane is a bit of Unreliable Narrator and her opinions of people color her perceptions of them]].
- Big Bad: The Islamic fundamentalist government.
- Bigger Bad: Ayatollah Khomeini never shows up or gets a mention (although his picture appears), but it's his thoughts and ideals which clearly influence the government and its wider effects on Iran.
- A Birthday, Not a Break: Marjane finds out Markus is cheating on her, she's falsely accused of stealing her landlady's brooch, and runs away from her apartment, effectively rendering herself homeless, on her eighteenth birthday.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Black Market: Where people can buy stuff like "Jichael Mackson" tapes.
- Blood from the Mouth: In a nonfatal form of this, Marjane coughs up blood from severe bronchitis. Fortunately, she survives and wakes up in the hospital.
- Blunt "Yes":
Supervisor: Why are you looking at this man?
Marjane: Well, because I'm drawing him.
Supervisor: Yes, but you're not allowed to look at him. It's against the moral code.
Marjane: What would you have me do? Should I draw this man while looking at the door?!
- Body Horror: Marjane's description of puberty and the associated images has shades of this. Needless to say, it's Played for Laughs.
- Chewing the Scenery: Marjane snapping at Frau Dr. Schloss in The Movie was this, only somehow still mixed with Dull Surprise.
: GO FUCK
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: The film has enough Mood Whiplash to break one's neck, jumping from lighthearted and funny to deathly serious to mundane and back. Justified, in that a real person's life tends to play out this way.
- Child Soldiers
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Carried out by the Shah, then the revolutionary government.
- Cool Old Guy: Uncle Anoosh.
- Cool Old Lady: Marjane's Grandmother.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: When they watch Godzilla in cinema, the grandmother covers Marjane's eyes during the scene where Godzilla eats a human.
- Culture Police
- Darker and Edgier: The Movie. While the book is by no means light fair, it's presented more matter-of-factly. The movie makes good use of the benefit of timing and sound.
- Most noteworthy is the different ending: in the book, Marjane leaves Iran out of disgust when she notices that the government's sexist, oppressive propaganda is beginning to rub off on her own friends. In the movie, it's after a party raid in which a friend of hers was chased off of a building and left for dead by the police, which convinces her that the country isn't safe for her as a person any more than it is as a woman.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the graphic novel, Marjane points out the hypocrisy of her parents, who wax poetic about human rights while keeping an underage maid, Mehridia. Mehridia was born to a poor family in a destitute village, and the Satrapis took her in when she was a small child. While the Satrapis did feed and clothe Mehridia and try to teach her to read, they still kept her out of school and used her as a source of child labor. None of the characters (except the author) bat an eyelash at the situation, which was apparently common in Iran at the time.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The film.
- Dirty Communists: A favorite boogeyman of the Shah's government. The communists Marjane actually meets range from noble idealists to narcissistic poseurs.
- Driven to Suicide: Marjane. However, it is happily failed.
- During the War: The Iran–Iraq War, to be specific.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After having to go through the misery of war, the deaths of Anoosh and some of her neighbors, numerous heartbreaks (including a divorce) and a near-identity crisis, Marjane finally leaves for France at the end and becomes a free woman.
- Egocentrically Religious: As a kid, Marjane even thought she'd become the last prophet of Islam. She lost her faith after the death of her uncle, however.
- Fag Hag: For a while, she lives together with eight gay guys in one shared apartment. What little is shown is a fairly positive portrayal of them, however.
- Falling in Love Montage: The film shows Marjane and Markus pelting one another with snowballs, running through the park, smoking hash with content expressions and showing a gleeful, happy romance... before he cheats on her. Subverted soon after when she re-envisions the entire thing but with Markus as a slimy, creepy douchebag. In his defense, she does mention in the comic that she was a huge emotional load on him, as she pretty much expected him to be an ersatz for every man in her life.
- From Bad to Worse
- Full-Circle Revolution: When the Shah is deposed in 1979, Marjane's parents and much of the population expect the new regime to be an improvement. But it soon proves every bit as dictatorial and repressive as the old one. And then even more than the old one. The comic mentions it: While the Shah had 3,000 political prisoners, the Islamic theocracy had 300,000.
- The Fundamentalist: The Iranian government is taken over by these.
- Girls with Moustaches: A teacher tells her female students to wear head scarves because a glimpse of any part of a woman's hair is a temptation to men. Marjane's father comments that the teacher's moustache is hardly seductive.
- Good Parents: Marjane's parents.
- Grandpa God: Specifically, the young Marjane pictures him as looking like Karl Marx.
- Growing Up Sucks: Especially if you're away from your parents.
- Hairy Girl:
- Marjane's roommate, Lucia, has hairy armpits. They aren't very noticeable in the comic, but in the animated film they comically blow in the wind from her hairdryer.
- Marjane herself is fairly hairy, but it's treated a sign of her lack of self-esteem. After she becomes determined to take charge of her life following her failed suicide attempt, a montage ensues of Marjane working to make herself look nice again, including plucking out all her body hair in a comically painful manner.
- Holier Than Thou
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The Eye of the Tiger scene in the movie.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: The government baits teenage boys into the Basij by convincing them Paradise will be filled with gold, diamonds... and women.
Mrs. Nasrine: They told him that in Paradise, there will be plenty of food, women and houses made of gold and diamonds.
Mrs. Nasrine: Yeah. Well, he's fourteen years old. That's exciting.
- How We Got Here: The film opens with Marjane at Paris Airport. The next 90 minutes tell the story of how she got there.
- Hug and Comment: Marjane hugs her grandmother before falling asleep next to her, then asks the older woman how she kept her breasts so firm over the years.
- I Ate WHAT?: For a while, she has to wait tables in Austria. When one of the guests sexually harasses her, the cook sneakily avenges her by spitting on his schnitzel.
- I Can Explain: Markus tries this on Marjane when being caught with another girl in bed.
- Imaginary Friend: As a kid, Marjane has God as one.
- Insane Troll Logic: Some of the more liberal Iranians view a few fundamentalist positions as this (the comic book, for example, includes a line where they say women's hair emits rays which arouse men.)
- Intentional Engrish for Funny: "Punk is not ded" and to a lesser extent "Jichael Mackson".
- Iran–Iraq War
- Kids Are Cruel: Marjane and her friends attach nails to their fists and chase another kid so they can beat him...because his father works for the government.
- Language Barrier: When Marjane arrives to Austria, she doesn't speak German and her roommate Lucia doesn't speak either Persian or French (Marji's second language). They learn to cope and get along amicably anyway.
- Last Het Romance: With Enrique.
- Letting the Air out of the Band: Played for Drama when the music changes from light and cheerful to slow and somber after Marjane's antidepressants end up making her feel even worse.
- Played for Laughs, however, when young Marjane is bullshitting her way out of getting beaten by two older women who notice her "Punk Is Not Ded" jacket. Her Crocodile Tears become so obnoxious that they simply leave.
- Love Hurts
- Male Gaze:
Revolutionary Guard: Madam, why were you running?
Marjane: I'm very late! I was running to catch my bus.
Revolutionary Guard: Yes...but...When you run, your behind makes movements that are...how do you say...obscene!
Marjane: WELL THEN, DON'T LOOK AT MY ASS!
- Manipulative Bastard: The British are portrayed this way in regards to Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, the father and predecessor of the Shah described in the comic.
- Martyrdom Culture: The fundamentalist government enforces this, much to the horror of potential martyrs' parents.
- Mood Whiplash: The infamous "Eye of the Tiger" scene comes as a result of Marjane's suicide attempt.
- Moral Guardians: The Iranian Islamic Revolution is this trope, banning all manner of Western media as being decadent and immoral. In Real Life, the Iranian government, angered by the movie's portrayal of them as reactionary, humorless, suppressive, and misogynistic, reacted by humorlessly suppressing the movie and calling Marjane Satrapi a whore.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Momo.
- No One Could Survive That: Marjane attempts to commit suicide by downing all her anti-depressants, yet still survives. Lampshaded when her therapist comments that he can't find any explanation for her survival other than divine intervention. However, most anti-depressants are impossible (or at the very least extremely difficult) to overdose on, for obvious reasons.
- Not So Different:
- Marjane's family is somewhat westernized and thus doesn't like the Islamists who claim that anything coming from the west is horrible and decadent. When she goes to Austria after some years under the Ayatollah, she is shocked when another girl openly talks about her pussy, and tells her she had sex with 18 boys (without being married, of course).
- When Marjane returns to Iran her female friends are eager to hear about her sexual experiences, but when they find out that she slept with several guys they call her a whore.
- Pietà Plagiarism: Marjane almost entirely copies the statue for her art university entrance exam but puts a soldier's uniform on Jesus to appeal to the faculty.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The anarchists certainly don't act very anarchist (actually, often Truth in Television - but better than if they had started to throw random bombs like some earlier anarchists did.) This becomes a minor plot point when Marjane's boyfriend invites her to an anarchist party. She expects it to be a gleeful revel in leftist thought and anti-elitism, and is majorly disappointed when it turns out to be just a bunch of people playing games (though she quickly recovers).
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Shown to horrifying effect.
- Prison Rape / Marital Rape License: Discussed. When a virgin is arrested, a member of the Secret Police marries and deflowers her before she's executed. Because executing virgins is illegal and virgins can't go to hell. So that's one way around that issue. Then, to hammer it in, a pittance of a dowry is sent to the woman's family so they know exactly what happened. Understandably, Marjane's parents freak out over it.
- Refuge in Audacity: Marjane's father tells the headmistress, "If hair is as arousing as you think, then you should shave your mustache". It was followed by a disclaimer of "Yes, he really did say that".
- The aformentioned "WELL THEN, DON'T LOOK AT MY ASS!" scene. It shocked the police so much they let her go.
- Roof Hopping: After their night club was crashed by police, the young Iran men flee across the rooftops of the city. For one of them it doesn't end well.
- Royal Blood: Marjane is a descendant of the Qajar dynasty.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Marjane and her mother (her link to the dynasty, though neither makes any sort of fuss about it) are very politically and socially active during the revolutionary times.
- Sexless Marriage: The marriage between Marjane and Reza soon becomes this; they start Sleeping Single a month after their wedding.
- She Is All Grown Up: Marjane.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Uncle Anoosh's life in a nutshell.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Invoked-one of Marjane's relatives bribes the guard to get into her husband's cell so they could have one last night together, her intention being to get pregnant and have his baby to remember him by. He's not happy about it, and even warns her how terrible life is for an unwed mother.
- Starter Villain: The Shah, quickly replaced by the Iranian Islamic government, which is even worse.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Marjane's uncle, who reacts to all the terrible things happening in the country (and even his own arrest) with an understanding smile and a calm, pragmatic explanation.
- Stylistic Suck: The infamous "Eye Of The Tiger Scene."
- Training Montage: Marjane coming out of her depression, with Eye Of The Tiger playing. The film took a... unique interpretation of this.
- The Unsmile: Marjane gets two: once when a boy she likes thanks her for helping him come to terms with his homosexuality and again when she's forced to talk to friend and family about her experiences in Europe after coming home.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Movie contains a metaphorical example; Marjane (after finding out Markus cheated on her) imagines throwing up when reading Markus's script.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Marjane's mother delivers one to her, after cutting in on the moment listed under Kids Are Cruel. She asks Marjane "How would you like it if I nailed your ears to the wall?" before telling her that it isn't fair to hurt someone for what their parents do.
- When guards come in a raid, Marjane accuses a man of saying something indecent to her in order to save herself from being confronted over wearing lipstick. He's never seen again. Later on, she tells her grandmother about the incident—and also laughs about it. Grandma is far, far from amused. Since the movie takes place in post-revolution Iran, the man could've been tortured or even executed. The scene shows how a police state could turn anyone into a monster.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Many people Marjane meets have hopes that the world will suddenly turn splendidly better, and get hit with an awful, often fatal, punch from reality.
- Her Uncle Anoosh keeps assuring his family that "everything will be alright" and the Iranian people will turn to communism, even as the religious fanatics take over and he gets arrested and sentenced to death.
- Neda Baba-Levy is a young girl who dreams of a fairytale prince coming to take her away. She and her family are killed by an Iraqi missile.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: See What the Hell, Hero? above.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Lucia and her Tyrolean family treat Marjane very nicely...and later, a character implies they were just as unabashedly racist as all the other Tyroleans, and wouldn't have been so nice if Marji was, say, a darker-skinned, frizzy-haired boy.
- Your Cheating Heart: Marjane catches Markus in bed with another girl.