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Persepolis

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Mature Thematic Material, including Violent Images, Sexual References, Language and Brief Drug Content)

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Starring the voices of: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes. (English Language Version: Chiara Mastroianni, Sean Penn, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands and Iggy Pop)

Based on the graphic novel by: Marjane Satrapi

Written and Directed by: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

 

Studio: Sony

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: The Hidden Side Of Persepolis, Behind The Scenes Of Persepolis, 2007 Cannes Film Festival Press Conference, Animated Scene Comparisons with Commentary by Marjane Satrapi, Commentary on Select Scenes by Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud and Chiara Mastroianni

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: June 24th, 2008


 

 

"Persepolis" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's an excellent transfer that does justice to the film's dazzling animation. It's a very clean transfer - no debris, blemishes or dirt. The transfer is also very sharp, and it helps make the animation stand out, particularly with the outlines of the characters - you really feel as if you're watching a graphic novel that has come to liis pr Color. As pristine as the transfer is though, it does have a few flaws - namely some edge halos, and a bit of noise - but it's not too distracting. Still, there are so many positives and they easily outweigh the negatives. 


 

"Persepolis" features a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Despite this being a film that is loaded with dialogue, it actually has a lot going on in the background making for a pretty discrete and enveloping track. Subwoofer use is a bit more powerful than I anticipated, and dynamic range is pretty strong. Fidelity is high too, and there are a good number of surrounds that bring you into the thick of things - namely the more violent moments when some characters come under attack. Even subtle sound effects make an impression - such as doors opening and the Iranian streets. And then there's the score from Olivier Bernet, which sounds very rich through the channels (also, the "Eye Of The Tiger" sequence packs a bit of a punch). And of course, all the talking is crisp and very easy to hear.

The English dubbed version is also included, in Dolby Digital 5.1. Also available are subtitles in English and Spanish. Be aware though that subtitles are not available for the English language dialogue through the DVD.
 



First up is The Hidden Side Of Persepolis  - a half-hour documentary on the making of the movie. We get a peek inside the French animation studio where the movie was produced, and throughout, co-writers and directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronaud discuss the process. In informal chats and tours, we learn how the duo met, how it's a challenge to adapt a graphic novel into a movie and how the animation - be it the paper used, the location designs, specific character mannerisms - came together. (Many animators are interviewed too, and discuss their craft.) There's also some fascinating bits on the voice actors and creating foley sound effects. Clips from the movie, pencil tests and animatics are shown throughout to give a sense of how the production progressed, and what was accomplished. Quite excellent - a great watch to see how this astounding work of art came together.

Behind The Scenes Of Persepolis is a more typical behind-the-scenes look at the movie - this one clearly made in mind for American audiences, as it features Satrapi and much of the American voice cast. Satrapi and the voice actors discuss the movie's plot, and like the previous documentary, shows storyboards and animatics. It's not bad at all, but given the short running time (9 minutes) and how its presented, its not as rich as "Hidden Side."

Running 29 minutes is the 2007 Cannes Film Festival Press Conference, where the film debuted. On the panel are the producers, some of the original voice actors and of course Satrapi and Paronnaud. This is a fantastic inclusion, as the principals discuss their thoughts on the movie's themes, adapting the graphic novel, making it in black and white, the artistic influences and what the message they ultimately hoped to send to audiences by making this movie. Some of this information can be gained from the other video pieces on the disc, but this is still a good watch if you enjoyed the film.

There are three Selected Scene Commentaries, where Satrapi, Mastroianni and Paronnaud give their thoughts on a selected scene. Satrapi discusses the opening scene and its use of color; Mastroianni talks about singing "Eye Of The Tiger" off-key and Paronnaud gives his thoughts on the Vienna sequences in the movie. In all, these comments only add up to about 6 minutes - which is a bit of a shame, since there are a lot of great insights in these snippets. Yes, while you do learn a lot about the making of the movie and what it covers through the other supplements, I still wish these three (and others) sat down for a full commentary.

Finally, there are some Animated Scene Comparisons with Commentary by Marjane Satrapi on four scenes. Over animatics, Satrapi narrates what's going on when there isn't any voice acting. Satrapi's comments do range from narration of the action and explaining the background, and explains some things viewers are sure to pick up on, but sometimes the comments are quite revealing - particuarly in a very heavy scene that she had Paronnaud cover. It's about 11 minutes of material in all, and worth of your time.

 

"Persepolis" is a phenomenal film: it's a fascinating coming-of-age story done in a wondrous, stark style (long live 2-D animation). The DVD does not disappoint either, with excellent 5.1 mixes, a sharp transfer and rich supplements that delve into the film's unique production. For foreign film buffs and animation fans, this is a must add for your collection.