Marjane Satrapi on ’Persepolis‘
Marjane Satrapi is the writer and director of ’Persepolis‘, an animated, serio-comic cine-diary of her time growing up in Tehran during the late 1970s and early 1980s and her subsequent move to Vienna at the behest of her parents. The film was adapted from her popular graphic novels of the same name with the help of her friend, co-writer and director, Vincent Paronnaud
Do you like talking about ‘Persepolis’ considering it’s intimately about your life?‘It’s all about my life, but at the same time it’s not a documentary about my life. We should never forget that, to create a story, you have to invent stuff. I’m really tired of promoting the film because it’s been sold in lots of countries and each time it’s more or less the same questions. If I told you the contrary, I would be lying.’
I’d be interested to know how you originally wrote the novels?‘How? With my hands.’
More like, did you develop them from a diary?‘No, no, no. Do I look like a person who keeps a diary? The thing is, I have a very good memory. Six years after I left Tehran, I had enough distance from the story to be able to write it down without too much anger and hatred. As an artist, I feel you need distance from a personal story.’
The film is full of anger – but it’s presented in a very humorous way.‘It’s not really anger. It’s more about questioning what’s going on. I think that a little bit of anger in daily life keeps you sane. The vocation of the film is not to give answers. I never say: this is good, or this is not good. Things happen and the viewer can decide for him or herself. The people who give answers are preachers, and I hate preachers.’
This feels like an animated film which hasn’t been influenced by animation, but live action films.‘Yes, the form was just the most convenient for the material. For a story like this, the idea of identification becomes very difficult. The thing with a drawing is that it is very abstract, so anyone can relate to it. It’s much harder to identify with a real person. Also, structurally, the film has many different levels of narration: you have dreams, poetry flashbacks and real life. If your name is Federico Fellini, you might be able to do that with grace, and if your name is not Fellini you might make something vulgar.’
So what were your reference points?‘We didn’t have any references. What should we say to our animators? Make Tex Avery? Make Disney? Make Miyazaki? We like all of these, but we didn’t take any influence from them. I was more interested in people like Fritz Lang and FW Murnau, especially the use of black and white in films like “Nosferatu”. Italian neo-realism was also important for the family scenes.’
Would you have allowed anyone else to adapt your story?‘Absolutely not. Be it theatre, moviemaking, opera or song, I would always adapt my own stories. Not because I am aggressive and think I can do everything the best, it’s just I am the only person who knows how it should be done.’
Is that because the stories you write are so personal, or would you not let any story you had written into another person’s hands?‘No, even if it’s another story. But it’s the reverse too: since “Persepolis” screened in Cannes, I’ve been sent scripts and stories by other writers, and I find it extrememly difficult to enter into somebody’s imagination. If someone takes my idea and transfers the style and makes something that I think is crap, I’d be angry. If I do something that is crap myself, it’s fine. I can forgive myself, but I would kill the guy who destroys my work.’
‘Persepolis’ opens on April 25. See an exclusive clip here.
Author: Interview: David Jenkins
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’