March 4, 2009, Category: Movie Reviews

Persepolis

PersepolisI might have missed this one but the limited blu-ray choice at Blockbuster forced me to give it a chance. When I saw all the independent film festival awards it won, I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed.

The style of animation is really cool, artistic and different. It’s worth watching for that reason alone, but not why I recommend it. Watch this show for the insight it offers into the difficulties people have faced in Iran over the past 30 years. Before I lose most of you, let me add that the story is wrapped around a girl whose teenage adolescence/coming of age experiences are touching and heart wrenching. Not only does she struggle with issues faced by any typical teenage girl, she must also deal with the fact that her country is fighting a war and a radically changing government regime. I was fascinated by the peek into the Iranian world.

Here is where I found my thoughts wandering while I tried unsuccessfully to sleep as I stared at my bedroom ceiling for several hours after the show.

At one point in the show, she’s talking with her friends and becomes angry when one suggests that life is meaningless and, basically, the only reason we do anything (like start wars) is to cure boredom. I can sympathize with her friend and yet I envy her passionate response, and thus, the meaning she holds in her life. Fighting for your country and for equal rights is certainly something I’d call meaningful. But yet, in some ways it gives substance to her friends argument. I think there are people so desperate for meaning they create lies, start fights, and lobby for this or that simply to escape boredom or protect their fragile ideals.

Meaning is certainly a struggle in my life. I grew up believing life was a test and all my struggles and trials were meaningful because one day I would live in a wonderful place with all my loved ones. Over time, my beliefs changed and I lost that foundation. It’s was scary to even think about ripping away such a wonderful and concretely defined ideal, but I decided I couldn’t hold on to it just because I wanted it to be true. I had to face what I felt was reality, which for me meant letting go of that crutch.

It has been a long difficult process for me to replace that divine purpose. I was living my life for the afterlife and when that was taken away, it left me wondering why I was enduring the test with no reward at the end. I was working the job without a paycheck. Whatever you believe will come after this life, stop and think for a minute how you would change if you were told the deal was off. Maybe how you live your life wouldn’t change too much, mine didn’t. But it ripped me apart inside and completely changed how I see the world. If you can really pull this off, it’s a scary exercise.

Is this the core of an extremist? Somebody so desperate to hide from a reality that might threaten core beliefs they will put on blinders and allow racism, genocide, violence, or oppression to protect themselves? I consider myself agnostic and still open to the possibility that their is a God. But I reject a God who would condone violence, genocide, and labeling mass groups of people as inferior just because of their beliefs. Therefore, I can’t believe for a minute that God is really on the side of the extremist Muslim (or similar extreme, controlling mindset). So what happened in Iran is driven by men who are afraid to consider anything that threatens that crutch they hold so tightly.

Now, going back to the original argument, meaning. Why was that crutch created in the first place? Was it boredom? Was it out of a desperate need to create meaning where it is horribly difficult to find? I promise, it’s a lot easier to find meaning in an extremist world than an agnostic one. Even religion offers incredible meaning. Wars offer meaning. A cause offers meaning…would the world go mentally insane if we didn’t have wars and constant causes to battle? How could we ever survive without villains and evil-doers? Fighting hunger, poverty, and illiteracy don’t seem to have the same draw as fighting evil. I think people want evil…because they want to fight it. And I think when we don’t have it, we create it…for boredom and to silence our search for true meaning.

So I agree and disagree with her friend. It’s not that there is no meaning, it’s just that it is really hard to find and it’s not nearly as exciting as battling evil. I’m also not against religion and I certainly don’t think everyone who believes in a divine power is running from boredom and fear. An extremist, perhaps. But I recognize that many religions serve mankind well. It’s just too bad there are so many horrible things done by some in the name of God.

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2 thoughts on “Persepolis

  • By Tracy - Reply

    I’m coming over there to punch you in the face…(in the name of God of course)

  • By Grandma Henke - Reply

    It’s hard for me to comment because, of course, I do believe in God. So part of me would like to say “but …”. That said … you are a good writer and I love you and always like to hear your point of view. The movie sounds interesting but if we watch it it will be early in the morning so it doesn’t disturb our sleep!

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