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Persepolis (Blu-ray)

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: $38.96

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 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: June 24th, 2008


 

 

"Persepolis" is presented in a 1080p high definition widescreen transfer, in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. I was impressed by the standard DVD's transfer, but in comparison, the Blu-ray transfer blows it away. Of course, "Persepolis" features some awe-inspiring animation - and what I noticed most about the Blu-ray version is just how detailed it is. I mentioned that the standard DVD was like watching a graphic novel come to life, but with the Blu-ray version, it's like you are watching a graphic novel that is breathing and pulsating. There is an additional richness with the animation that really draws your attention in, and the way it all easily moves and flows feels so defined. The overall image quality is razor-sharp, and clean: I didn't detect any blemishes, dirt pieces or assorted flaws. The movie's animation style is simple, but it gives plenty of its own pleasures. If you have a Blu-ray player, pop this movie in and prepare to be wowed.

 

"Persepolis" on Blu-ray is also taken up a notch with the French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. It's a pretty rich sonic experience overall, that has more depth the regular Dolby Digital 5.1 track included on the standard DVD. Subwoofer use has a bit more "oomph" to it, and overall dynamics and sound imaging is pretty enveloping. The surrounds also pack a bit more of a blast, namely the moments with flashes to the revolution and when some characters are caught in dangerous situations. The more subtle sound effects (like doors opening) feel a bit more "heavy" too. Olivier Bernet's charming score is mixed creatively and bristling with life, and the dialogue is very easy to hear and comes out clear, too.

The English dubbed version is also included, in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 too. Also available are subtitles in English and Spanish, plus English closed captions.
 




There is some great stuff here, but there are no exclusive Blu-ray features. And unfortunately, everything is in standard definition.

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). If you have a Blu-ray player, this is the way to go: the 1080p transfer is seemingly flawless, the TrueHD 5.1 mixes have added depth and there are rich supplements that delve into the film's unique production. For foreign film buffs and animation fans, this is a must have for your collection - and a great way to show off your widescreen television to boot.