This extract from Persepolis (Paronnaud and Satrapi, 2007) is a very powerful one; showing how politics had affected the country of Iran during the time, what that meant for the people within the country and it’s influences on them. The story it tells has a great impact on the audience and tells them a lot of information on the setting as well as emotional responses.
First of all you can see that the scene with Siamak’s story is shot rather differently to any of the other story scenes throughout the film. As we hear about the tortures that Siamak went through in prison we are only shown those people within the room. The ones, like us, who are hearing this story told to them and responding to the horrors heard. With simple transitions between them we see their reactions to be with great seriousness as the matter is and thought provoking just as we see with Ebi (see Fig. 1.) as he leans in towards Siamak, questioning what happened to their mutual friend. The set design is plain, rather darkened in the background to keep the audience focus on the people and figures in shot, their faces standing out brightly. All of which builds on the realism of the story and its importance as this is all the audience can focus on and there isn’t some vivid illustration of the story moving around the screen as it told like with the other stories told within this film. This scene has more of an impact without the need for all that, this simplicity of the scene is the key to it, to create meaning and emotion within the audience. To have the audience listen and understand how wrong and horrible the actions taken out on Siamak in prison in Iran was.
The way in which Siamak (see Fig.2.) tells his story of time in prison so calmly is also very important to this scene. It is told simply and to the point with the occasional drag on his cigarette we see how this harsh past has hardened him to the terrors. It contrasts highly to many people’s lives out of such a difficult political hardship and so makes the storytelling far more chilling to them as they find such actions alien. It also greatly builds on the seriousness of the subject as he takes the story calmly and clearly, making it the key focus of the film.
The effect that the politics of Iran and their actions have on the children there is greatly shown and represented within this film extract. This is firstly shown in the acting performance of Laly and Marji when Siamak talks about his torture in prison. Each of the adults around the room are shown as calm focused features, taking in all the information. However the two little girls are rather contrasting to this as they have their eyes open wide, looking shocked more than anything as they too concentrate and take in the information. This also expresses how different the situation is for those in Iran as many in the audience will find it shocking that a child has to hear of such horrors, but they are being told within this scene. It shows the news and knowledge that they must know about in their country as even harsher as it is heard and therefore having affect on those young too. And when the subject turns to assassination Marji burrows her head in her arms (see Fig.3.) as though trying to escape it in true fear, building the sadness within the audience watching.
Further effect the politics of Iran and their actions have on the children are shown throughout the rest of my extract of film. Taking the tortures Siamak had been previously been talking about the children discuss those they shall use as punishment for losing a game they’re about to play. The idea of combining both game and tortures by children is sickening enough to an audience but it is increased upon with the use of Ramin in the scene. The transformation of the children to become violent and cruel against Ramin, shown physically with the sinister smiles they hold (see Fig.4.), is chilling to watch as an audience. To have such information of violence grow and influence the young so in their ‘play’ is just wrong and shouldn’t be happening, which is what the directors want to express in this scene to their audience. One finds themselves grateful for Taji’s influence in the end on her own children to be good.
Now with the second scene in my chosen extract the audience are set up with a nice shot of children gathered round on a street, about to play a game. The showing of this along with the basic chirps of birds and people sounding in the background it expresses a great feel of calm and happiness within the streets of Iran. This is important when compared with scenes later on within the film as there are not any other scenes of enjoyment and calm shown on the streets of Iran within the film after this scene. This setting up how nice and calm and ordinary the place used to be with children able to play and ride the streets compared to how the place is effected by the politics and war to come. Having a before shown is key to impacting the information on an audience as well as to create emotional response as you have the nice feeling for the streets and place all light before the darker changes later on.
And so this scene shows the main theme of politics and the ways in which it affects those living in Iran at the time well in a great many ways that produce a response in their audience.
Figure 1. Mr. Ebi Satrapi. (2007) From: Persepolis. Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. [Film still] France and USA. 2.4.7. Films. At: 11:06
Figure 2. Siamak. (2007) From: Persepolis. Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. [Film still] France and USA. 2.4.7. Films. At: 11:08
Figure 3. Marji. (2007) From: Persepolis. Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. [Film still] France and USA. 2.4.7. Films. At: 11:22
Figure 4. The Chase. (2007) From: Persepolis. Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. [Film still] France and USA. 2.4.7. Films. At: 12.09
Figure 5. The Children. (2007) From: Persepolis. Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. [Film still] France and USA. 2.4.7. Films. At: 11:28