Tuesday, February 19, 2008
A few days ago I went to see Persepolis the film based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi which I hope wins the Academy Award. It is absolutely beautiful in every way: the animation, the story, the music. I was struck by the fact that the main character is at the same time a survivor and witness of the Shah's dictatorship, of the Islamic dictatorship and of the first Gulf War, she was however, also a grandchild of someone that suffered repression under the Shah, and was the child of someone suffering such reprisals as well. So one person occupies all of the generational positions discussed in analyses of family transmission of trauma simultaneously. One of many scenes that moved me took place early in the film where Marjane goes to visit her uncle in jail. Incarcerated for being a Communist under the Shah, his brief bout of freedom comes to an end as the Iranian revolution consolidates its power. He tells her to remember always their family's political struggle for justice, and to live a life of integrity. Marjane's grandmother also reminds her again and again to keep her dignity as a woman and to refuse to live in fear or succumb to her internal censor, to look the other way in the face of sexism and injustice.
Even though she is a young child, she seems to realize the great responsibility her uncle places on her, to keep his memory alive and to testify to others about the values he and his father fought for, like her grandfather before him, the uncle is killed, in this case, by the Iranian revolutionary government.
This scene and the entire movie made me reflect on my own family history and reminded me of my responsibility to write my book and to dedicate more of my publications to the memory of my grandfather and other family members who fought, were incarcerated, suffered repression and died fighting for social justice and against Franco.
FILM WEBSITE: http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/persepolis/
UPDATE: I am OUTRAGED that "Persepolis" did not win the Oscar. I can't believe that a movie about rats won out over Marjane Satrapi's masterpiece. But then, that's the US of A for you, isn't it?