Women on Film: How to Rebel

Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” shows us how to stay true to our beliefs under great adversity.

In the day-to-day of living life, many of us are constantly assailed by the “at leasts.”

“God, I’m annoyed with traffic, but at least I have my health,” one might sigh staring down five miles-per-hour on the highway.

“I have the worst headache, but at least it’s nothing serious,” another might ponder while squinting up at a children’s hospital, framed by the sun. Then we go on with our days, briefly annoyed but secure in the knowledge that lattes can be made organic, Mad Men has returned for a new season, and that cupcakes can now be retrieved via vending machines.

Or we could “at least” be Marjane Satrapi, who lived through the Islamic Revolution, enduring a tyrannical, repressive girlhood. Satrapi’s experience is captured in the 2007 animated film Persepolis.

Persepolis, which won the 2007 Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is a French-American animated film based on the graphic novels of the same name. Co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud, Persepolis depicts Satrapi’s childhood, thrown into turmoil when Khomeini overthrew the Shah in the 1979 revolution and ushered in an age of Islamic Fundamentalism and the Iran-Iraq War. Satrapi was raised in a middle-class family of activists, but her outspokenness and confidence cause her parents to fear for her safety. She was sent to the French Lycee in Vienna in 1983, only to eventually find herself homeless, isolated, and extremely ill with pneumonia.

Satrapi recovered, returning to Iran in 1987. However, she continued to rebel under the intense scrutiny of the regime. Inevitably, Satrapi was forced to decide between freedom and her love of her beloved country, torn apart by war and intolerance.

“I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists,” Satrapi says on the film’s website. “I also don’t want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various oppressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten.”

These are strong words from a courageous woman, emboldened by her beliefs in unimaginably dark circumstances. Our “at leasts” were her reality.

For more Persepolis, click here.

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Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.