The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 95 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, - Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, Iggy Pop
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Written by: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 24, 2008
"An honest and straightforward film…"
Persepolis is the poignant story of a young girl coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine-year-old Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power — forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the "social guardians" and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable. As she gets older, Marjane's boldness causes her parents to worry over her continued safety. And so, at age fourteen, they make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager. In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Over time, she gains acceptance, and even experiences love, but after high school she finds herself alone and horribly homesick. Though it means putting on the veil and living in a tyrannical society, Marjane decides to return to Iran to be close to her family. After a difficult period of adjustment, she enters art school and marries, all the while continuing to speak out against the hypocrisy she witnesses. At age 24, she realizes that while she is deeply Iranian, she cannot live in Iran. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her homeland for France, optimistic about her future, shaped indelibly by her past.
I decided to include the long film synopsis from the press kit because I felt that it summarized this film quite well. In looking at it on the surface Marjane goes through very much the same growing pains as most of us. Those are tough years in a young persons life as they are moving from young adulthood into the adults that they will be for years to come. It can be a tumultuous transition sometimes. In her case she had additional obstacles to deal with which were beyond her control. The story weaves those elements in very well. I think the decision to go with animation to tell this story was an important one. Some of its elements benefited from the visual expression that using animation offers. The story is based upon the life of co-Director Marjane Satrapi and taken from her comic/graphic novel of the same name. She says it is not meant to be a documentary but a story. It is told through a series of flashbacks which are all done in black and white. The are some “present day” portions of the film mixed in which are in color. The visual design is excellent and definitely adds character to the film. For most of us who grew up in a free society it is hard to imagine what it must have been like for those who did not. Persepolis offers a glimpse into that world through the eyes of young girl who was trying to find her identity amidst chaos and tragedy. Persepolis was nominated for an Academy Ward for Best Animated feature and won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
The rating is for Mature thematic material, including violent images, sexual references, language, and brief drug content. This is not really aimed at younger audiences but young teens should be no problem.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Persepolis comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio with an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.
The majority of the film is presented in black and white and does not have the vivid and vibrant color that generally accompanies today’s animated features. The visual design was a creative choice by the filmmakers and was kept within the spirit of the graphic novel style from which it was taken. It makes great use of subtle gray tones/textures, well balanced whites and deep dynamic blacks to relay the various segments of the story. This is a pristine video transfer that exhibited no signs of video noise or compression related artifacts. There are only splashes of color used in the film. Those sequences offered clean color reproduction with good tonal depth and saturation.
Persepolis is presented in english subtitled French Dolby TrueHD and english Dubbed Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround. For the purposes of this review I utilized the French Audio version. The audio presentation was just as good and made ample use of the entire system to drive the story line. The film uses the soundtrack as a spring board at times to propel the viewer into the different aspects during Marjane’s life. This is done to excellent effect. The mix is quiet and reserved at times to preserve tender or somber moments. At other times it is quite loud and fairly aggressive as protestors march, war is waged or Iron Maiden blares away through a small home audio system. At every turn I was impressed with the crystal clear and enveloping nature of the recording. Dialogue was reproduced with superb tonality and lifelike realism. Low frequencies were palpable and immersive when present. I enjoyed the room filling surround effects which painted a three dimensional picture of the events occurring onscreen. Channel separation and directional cues were dead on so that pans in every direction felt seamless.
The Bonus content presented offers an excellent look at this film and its creators. The two documentaries contain the bulk of the information including background, animatics, production, and behind the scenes footage. Marjane Satrapi offers some excellent details into the thought processes and personal perspective of Persepolis. Herself, Co-Director Vincent Paronnaud and cast/crew (featuring Gena Rowlands and Iggy Pop) interviews are included as well. The 29 minute Q&A from the 2007 Cannes Film Festival features the cast along with Satrapi, Paronnaud and Executive Producer Kathleen Kennedy. They respond to press questions and offer their insights on Persepolis. Fans will find that piece to be very interesting and informative.
- English language version
- The hidden side of Persepolis documentary
- Behind the scenes of Persepolis documentary
- 2007 Cannes Film Festival Q & A
- 4 Animated scene comparison with commentary by Marjane Satrapi
- 3 Select scene commentary by Marjane Satrapi, Viecent Paronnaud and Chira Mastroianni
- BD Live - Features not online yet
I couldn’t help but be moved by Persepolis. I found it to be an honest and straightforward film as told from a very human perspective. I appreciated its use of animation to ensure that the story remained faithful to the writer’s experience and intention. Sony has released it day and date with DVD in a high definition Blu-ray package featuring excellent audio/video and bonus supplements. In my opinion this a film worthy of its 95 minute running time.
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