Persepolis, Virgin Territory

Recently my wife and I watched two films on DVD that we quite enjoyed.

The first is Virgin Territory, very loosely inspired by Boccaccio’s Decameron. Completely ignore the stupid publicity blurb that accompanies the movie. This is pop comedy, nearly soft-porn with its nudity, yet beneath it all there is a sweet love story. The cast is lovely and talented; for the first time ever, I’m convinced that Hayden Christensen (of Darth Vader fame) can act. If you approach it as a sexual fairy tale, rather than as a period piece, it can be fun.

The second film is considerably more serious in tone and content: Persepolis tells the story of a girl who grows up in Iran as witness to revolution and war. It is based on the life of Marjane Satrapi, who also co-wrote and co-directed the film. Again I am reminded of what went wrong in Iran, a nation torn between tyrants, Marxists, and theocrats. Be sure to watch the special features, which I found as interesting as the film, as they show what happened to Satrapi after she moved to France. One thing that struck me about this film is the strong American influence it reveals, even as told by a woman from Iran living in France who doesn’t seem to have any special sympathy for the U.S. We watched the French-language version with English subtitles (the default on the video we rented), which I recommend, as I’m not persuaded the English dubbing was as good. I really like the original voices, and the animation was completed around the French recordings.