Friday, August 29, 2008


i finally saw Persepolis (based upon Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel) last night at a campus screening. so much to say, but for a now, a few comments on the film's visual rhetoric:

the visual rhetorical elements are simple and masterful at the same time. like, Marjane's hairline. the hairline is key -- women are required to keep it covered and when it isn't, as when M pulls her scarf just a bit back, she is/the women are challenged and sometimes threatened. so the hairline is key. in the Iran of Satrapi's story, the hairline marks a place on a woman's body where power disputes are foregrounded, where they play out visually and display (or conceal) a woman's identity and her power(lessness).

M's hairline shape-shifts, surfacing her interior state of being within the context of her momentary life situation. when young and in love w/ her life in Iran (including her romantic views of the revolutionary characters she encounters), her hairline appears to mimic the shape of the onion-domed mosques, her widow's peak, the topmost architectural element and her round face similar to the round dome. for example, see the dome of Dome of Masjid al-Nabawi, or "Mosque of the Prophet,"which is a good choice, as M is portrayed as an emerging "prophet."

this trailer provides several examples of the visual rhetoric of Marjane's hairline (the onion-dome version featured at 00:24 - 00:31 and 00:36 - 00:42):

later, when Marjane suffers severe depression, she sits, head-in-hands, on a headstone-shaped chair, her hairline tracing the same 2-humped headstone shape. these moves work at integrating form and content in ways that cleverly articulate how/that our life experiences resonate in/on/through and radiate from our bodies -- we inhabit affectively-oriented bodies as we adapt to our surroundings, however idyllic or horrific. we inhabit our situations fully, holistically, *and* . . . we can use our bodies to alter (certain) scenarios. for example, see this "Eye of the Tiger" sequence for inspiration at overcoming depression (notice the headstone hairline contour as she lays in bed, depressed -- one might also call it a heart, but earlier sequences align the contour more clearly with the gravesite. also, notice here other ways in which hair -- appearance, concealment, revealing --features throughout her resurfacing):

and, . . . FABULOUS from the feminist perspective is when M marries. the visual apparatus used to create the narrative structure shifts from moving animation to a series of static, framed photo album shots, as if to foreground the constructed nature of the conventional rituals of marriage rather than to "animate" them.

so much more . . .

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