Joe Strummer supposedly wrote “Rock The Casbah” after hearing of Iranians being flogged for owning disco tapes. It’s a detail that wouldn’t be out of place in Marjane Satrapi‘s animated memoir, adapted from her own graphic bildungsroman: in fact, one of the best scenes finds the young heroine scouring the black market for an Iron Maiden album, before being reprimanded by priests for wearing a Michael Jackson badge.
Following young Marjane’s personal and political education, from her cosmopolitan Tehran childhood, through the revolution, the Islamic crackdown and the Iraq/Iran war, Persepolis offers an excellent, child’s-eye guide to recent Iranian history. But the more conventional coming-of-age aspects, following her angsty adolescence in an Austrian lycŽe, are less compelling, and the conclusion – “you must always be true to yourself” – feels pat. But for the insights into the repressions and rare pleasures of everyday Iranian life, Persepolis should be compulsory viewing for western schoolkids who may yet end up fighting in another war.