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Persepolis: Eye (of the Tiger) on Iran's Women

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A few weeks ago, I finally got around to seeing Persepolis, the animated adaption of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel memoirs of growing up in Iran, which I’d read years ago. I love the books in their own right, but this is a rare translation to screen that not only retells the story, but uses the medium’s own language to enhance it, while staying true to the style and aesthetic of the original. And if you haven’t seen it, if you care at all about the remarkable and terrible events going on in Iran, you really should: 


Out of context, that scene may seem flippant next to the real-life conflict in the streets. (In the movie, the scene marks Satrapi’s snapping out of a depression that set in after she returned home to Tehran from Europe, where her parents sent her to escape the sexist repression of Khomeni’s Iran.) But it captures the movie’s (and the books’) mix of irreverence and rebellion. 

And against the backdrop of the news, it’s especially moving to re-watch, because among many other things, what’s going on in Iran is a women’s uprising, against a state that, in Satrapi’s work, she protrays as justifying misogyny in the name of “protecting” women. “The protesters,” reports the New York Times, “included many women, some of whom berated as ‘cowards’ men who fled the Basijis.” A woman named Neda, reportedly shot in the heart by the militia while protesting with her father, has become the symbolic face of the protests. 

It is, after all, Iran’s women who have most of all at stake in fighting for freedom. Satrapi, now living in France, has to be conscious of this, having spoken out against the suspicious election result. If you want to learn more about where she, and many other Iranian women, are coming from, go out now and get the movie and/or the books. They’re powerful reminders of what’s at stake in Iran, and how even after decades of repression, a people can still find the eye of the tiger.

(If you’re still not convinced, see the trailer after the jump:)