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.
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]].
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.
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 defence, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Royal Blood: Marjane is a descendant of the Qajar dynasty.
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.
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.
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.