Marjane Satrapi on Persepolis: The RT Interview (With Exclusive Clips and Photos!)

The graphic novelist talks about her long journey into moviedom.

You acted out parts of the movie in the studio. Why did you feel that was necessary?

MS: The person, for example, who animates the grandmother is not the same person from beginning to end. It's different people because it's too long for one person. So the body language had to be coherent so [we wouldn't have] one person doing it one way, and another person doing it another way.

Also, in Iran, we talk a lot with the hands. The use of the hand is very important. Some cultures don't use the hands.


You were in and out of Iran several times. Which is a harder transition: returning home or arriving elsewhere?

MS: You know, I don't consider it that way. I don't believe in shock...the clash of cultures. The culture is one. The culture is a ring off the same chain. Picasso was very much influenced by the African arts, and he influenced a whole other generation of artists. So everything influences everything.

When I went to Austria, it was not so much a matter of place. You know, I was an adolescent without my parents. I had this crisis of religion. Plus, my parents were not close to me. Plus, there was war in my country. Plus, I was in the bourgeois school with all these bourgeois kids. All of this made it very difficult. If it was in Austria, or in France, it would've been the same thing. When I was much younger, I thought I had to choose between being an Easterner or a Westerner. I don't think this way anymore. I take what I like. I am Iranian, but I am French also. My husband is Swedish. I travel a lot to America. It's about the human being. I have my friends. That is good. If I don't have them, that is not good.

Of course, it's much harder to live in a repressive place. It's not just east or west. America has become a repressive place and you see this repression every day. Well, now, it has changed, but at the time the war had started, people [couldn't] say it was a bulls--t war because they were anti-patriotic. Apparently, true patriotism destroys freedom of expression.

I remember doing an interview making a whole big mess, saying the war was stupid. And the interview came out describing my sunglasses.

Which interview was this?

MS: Well, I won't say. The person who did it didn't have a lot of choice. Here, you have the best laws for freedom of expression. The problem is that expression can be bought by people who don't want you have it.


Which other graphic novelists do you admire?

MS: Chris Ware I like a lot. He's a real genius. I like very much the American cartoonists, actually.

Persepolis is France's official selection for the Oscars. What does that entail on your part? More prestige and more press to do?

MS: For me, it means more than that. Germany chose The Edge of Heaven which is as much a German as a Turkish movie. It's this recognition, and you don't have that [recognition] in America because everybody is from somewhere. But, in Europe, immigration is a bit of a problem because not everyone comes from somewhere. So there's this recognition that you can be an immigrant in France. That you can have another background, and another piece of luggage. It means a lot to me. But it's also a lot of responsibility. Lots of more press, lots of more travel, lots of more this and that. But these are the things you don't choose, but what you do when you are chosen.

Persepolis and Ratatouille are the favorites for being nominated and winning the Animation Oscar and it's interesting that they're both, in one way or another, connected to French culture. Have you seen Ratatouille?

MS: Yes, it's a nice one. I really like it a lot. I watched it with two kids and they were so excited. I was more excited by their excitement.

I don't know, if we could have the Oscar for Best Animation and Best Foreign, that'd be a record. Yes! Why not? I worked for it. [Laughs.] I'd be a liar if I said I don't care. I do care. I hope. At the same time, this is just a competition. It's surreal. If it doesn't come, it doesn't come. But I hope it will. [Laughs.]

Click here to watch an exclusive Persepolis ("Shah") clip!

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