Friday, September 07, 2007


Posted by Arna:

Here are some stills from the soon to be released animated feature film, Persepolis:

Based on the books by the same name:

On the first night of this year's TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) we saw Persepolis, the movie, and it was good.
A few facts:

-Approx. two years in the making.
-Based on the graphic novels 1 and 2 of the same name by Marjane Satrapi.
-Directed by artist and writer Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.
-Created almost entirely in black and white in France, using traditional animation techniques with some CGI enhanced shots.
-Set against the fundamentalist Iranian revolution of the 1980's, the story follows writer artist Marjane Satrapi's life starting when she was a ten year old girl in an educated liberal family, to the time she was a young adult, living in exile in Europe. As Marjane Satrapi was careful to explain at the screening, this is a story based on her life, but not a true autobiography, since there are events that were altered from reality during the making of the movie.
-The version we saw was subtitled, but this movie will be dubbed in English and released later this year for the North American market. I hope that it will see a good size release in theatres. Certainly the audience at this night's screening reacted with genuine delight and much spontaneous laughter.
This style of animation is what is now known as ' 2D traditional'. Hand animated on paper, then in-betweened. And then in this case and most amazingly, the animated line was all traced by felt tip pen to give the look and feel of Satrapi's original graphic novel. For more on the technique, please check the nifty 'making of' documentary which you can watch on the Persepolis website. In order to create the felt tip traced line that you see on every drawing in this film, the filmmakers searched out a respected semi retired French hand-inker named Franck Miyot (or Miller...sp?) and asked him to train a young crew of approx. 20 artists in the art of hand-inking. As a result there is a group of talented artists in France who have brought this labour intense animation tradition back to life in that country.
Can't say anything bad about this film. OKAY maybe once in a while the score was a tiny bit too on the nose. Even so the music was workmanlike and better, and at often genuinely uplifting. Listen for a quirky and totally appropriate version of 'Eye Of The Tiger' sung in a raw slightly off-key style by the heroine. ~Woohoo! The song pulls you out of a sequence that focuses on the teen Marjane's mind-numbing depression, exacerbated (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) by a doctor's over-prescribed drug regime.
The film makers could have divided this story up into two parts, but maybe they thought that they'd get just one kick at the can. They'd edited the two books into one tale and told it well. The art direction of the film elaborates on the simple black and white style of the books, sticking mostly to black and white but adding shades of grey, laid down in richly textured washes. The look of the film sometimes feels like German expressionism... (a little Cabinet of Doctor Caligari perhaps?) in it's use of scumbled blacks and murky lighting. Or a reference to the Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. Then during the battle scenes and historic sequences, there's a echo of the silhouette animation of Lotte Reininger, and you can see the influence of Goya during the riot/execution sequences.

Favourite characters:

Young Marjane. A bossy outspoken little girl, innocent and possessing faith in her world and her God... soon to be tested.
Grandma. Wise in woman's ways and Marjane's rock.

Persepolis will be screening at the Ottawa Animation Festival later this week. It's a great time to read the graphic novels before the English language version of the film debuts in December. Or re-read them, which I'm off to do next!~ Arna

Reviews of the film: Here, here, and here. Update: here's a new review on Michael Sporn's 'splog' and this review posts a video of the Persepolis trailer.
And here's Nick Sung's review of several TIFF films including Persepolis. Nick's review comes complete with watercolour illustrations!