On Sunday I was fortunate to see the movie “Persepolis” at the Angelika Film Center in New York City. The movie, based on the critically-acclaimed French graphic novel, is a memoir of Marjane Satrapi focused mainly on her experiences growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and her experiences in Austria. The film was animated in the style of the graphic novels with the flashback sequences in black and white with the present-day scenes in colour. Much of the film had humour, wit, and tragedy set against an first during the final days of the Shah, then the Iraq-Iran War and finally in an increasingly oppressive theocratic Iran.
Part of the film subtly expresses resentment at the West’s meddling of Iranian affairs. First they explore how the Pahlavis were brought to power thanks to the British in return for exclusive rights to Iranian oil. Then they portray both the Soviets and the Americans vying for ideological influence in Iran with the Americans triumphing when they managed to overthrow Mossadeq in favour of giving the Shah even more power with all suspected communist being imprisoned or killed. Later, they show both the Americans and Soviets supporting the Iraq-Iranian War with the Americans backing Saddam while the Soviets armed the Iranians. Ironically, despite all the anti-western propaganda by the Iranian government and western meddling, the film portrays many Iranians secretly acquiring Western music or popular culture through the black market and even having clandestine alcohol-fueled parties at night.
It was really a tragedy to see Marjane being forced to leave Iran for France despite having negative experiences living in Europe when she was younger. It was even more tragic knowing that her parents ordered her to never return to Iran and the fact her grandmother died shortly after she left the country. The cinema was packed when my friend and I went to see it at the Angelika Film Center despite being out in limited release since the December 2007. Despite the tragedies in Iran since the fundamentalists took power, I still believe it would be unwise for the Americans to invade Iran.