If you are wondering how you didn’t know until now that Marjane Satrapi was working on another live action film, and that it wasn’t based on one of her graphic novels, and that it was a psychological thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, then join the club.
Marjane Satrapi‘s Persepolis, if you haven’t read it (and I highly recommend you do, perhaps after borrowing it from your local library) is a memoir of growing up in a secular and feminist family during the first decade of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a family that eventually decided that in order to keep their daughter safe without going against everything they’d already taught her about confidence and morality was to get her out of the country. Its two part narrative touches on religion, self-confidence and self-discovery, morality, femininity, justice, and protest, among many other issues.
So I can understand why many librarians in Chicago were puzzled by a direct order to remove the book, which is actually part of the curriculum in some classrooms, from libraries, classrooms, and even the hands of student borrowers.
If I’ve got a weakness for posting things that I want people to be interested in rather than things that I know people are already interested in, it’s the work of Iranian cartoonist and, with two movies under her belt, filmmaker Marjane Satrapi. From her autobiographical Persepolis, both as a graphic novel and an animated feature film, to her general eloquence on matters of human rights, and cultural relativism, seriously, go look this lady up.
Chicken With Plums is the first live-action adaptation of her work, after the short graphic novel Poulet aux prunes, and while it may not appear to be the sort of thing we’d normally feature here, as I recall, it’s one of those stories where almost everybody is sympathetic, but almost nobody turns out to be right, and vastly different sides of it are revealed as soon as you step outside of the main character’s perspective.
Tunisia hasn’t exactly had the easiest time lately, what with the 2010-11 Tunisian revolution, their president fleeing the country, and the recent election of a veteran human rights activist to the new presidency. Now, controversy over a television airing of Marjane Satrapi‘s 2007 film based on her 2000 graphic novel and memoir Persepolis, is rallying rights activists and political figures to again defend freedom of speech.
Oprah Winfrey can make superstars overnight by suggesting their work for her Book Club so it could have been huge if she had ever promoted a graphic novel. Before that could become a reality, she decided to end her daytime TV run. But there’s good news. There’s a brand new list on her website called “11 Books You Never Thought You’d Read (but Will Fall in Love with Instantly)” and they’re kind of like comics.
When I was in college, I had the good fortune to be attending a university that would do things like add Marjane Satrapi to the list of convocation speakers for the semester. So I additionally had the delight of sitting down in a packed hall, listening to Ms. Satrapi apologize for her English, and then proceed to speak incredibly eloquently on the subjects of Iranian politics, morality, women’s rights, and the legitimacy of comics as a medium. Happy Birthday, Ms. Satrapi, creator of Persepolis, Embroideries, and Chicken With Plums, and many happy returns.
We make no secret of the fact that we love Marjane Satrapi here at The Mary Sue, not just because she’s an incredible graphic novelist, but because she says things like this on the slowly changing status of women in her native Iranian society:
“Before, it was like they cut off [women’s] legs and said, ‘The door is open, run!’ Now, it is like the door is closed but we have strong legs, and with strong legs we can break the door.”
And so we’re super excited to see that her latest made-of-paper work is finally getting an English translation and publication.
If you’re not familiar with Marjane Satrapi, you’re missing out on one of the great cartoonists of our generation, and a diverse perspective (that of a woman raised in a secular Iranian household in the late seventies) that doesn’t often make its way very far into American culture. Much less as far as the Oscars.
Satrapi’s second graphic novel to make it to a film adaptation (after 2007′s Persepolis) is Chicken with Plums, the true-or-not story of her musician uncle’s suicide. While it might not be gorgeously animated like Persepolis, it still looks pretty interesting. Since we can’t find an English dub or subtitled version of the trailer, here’s the synopsis: