Persepolis Blu-ray Review
PicturePersepolis comes to our screens at 1.85:1, 1080p using the MPEG-4/AVC codec and it's an odd one to review really. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the source material, the print itself being in pristine condition. Equally there's nothing wrong with the transfer either, there's no blocking, gradients, enhancement or noise. However being a hand drawn 2-dimensional affair at times it lacks the pop that other premium releases have graced us with.
It cannot be compared to something like Zodiac or Spider-man in this regard but then again it shouldn't be as it's a completely different art form. So bearing this in mind lets get down to the nitty gritty. The feature is awash with grey tones, certainly suiting the nature of this film, and still the transfer at times uses these tones and a multi layered approach to their animation which adds slightly to the 3-dimensionality; bear in mind though that these are few and far between and predominantly you'll be expecting something a little flatter. Blacks are exquisite though, obviously welcome in this feature and the contrast is excellent from the bright whites of the mountainous ranges to the shadowy fog riddled crowd marches.
There are some fleeting moments of colour, Marjane in the airport for instance, but even these colours are somewhat muted. This transfer brings to life the static images of Satrapi and does so in an incredible fashion. Even though the image is in the main flat it's never lifeless; probably a testament to the actual story. I can't fault the transfer as a whole so even though it might not literally jump off your screen it's still a very fine example of a good clean disc.
SoundThere are both French and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks to sample. Normally with a foreign language feature I wouldn't even touch the English dub but that can fall by the wayside with animation as the lip synch doesn't detract, so for this review I concentrate on the English variety. From the start you realise that this is no slouch on the audio front, it's right up there with the video transfer. The track is deep and goes deeper the further it progresses. Marjane's experiments with Punk Rock and some Heavy Rock are testament to this. LFE also booms from your sub when we see military action on screen; the movement of tanks, the blistering fall of shells and their subsequent explosions.
Surrounds are not left out and there's an ambiance created which draws the viewer into the thrust of the film. Parties in this oppressive world still remain and when we see these we can hear faint dialogue and the music score from the surround stage. Outdoor scenes are not left out with the sound of birds and gunfire as appropriate again emanating from your surrounds.
Persepolis is a dialogue movie above all else though; the discussions between adults at parties, the relating of experiences by Marjane to her European friends and the thoughts of Marjane herself. All of these sequences come across perfectly crisply. Firmly locked in the centre with some occasional panning to either left or right to create a wonderful front stage which the viewer is firmly focused on. The score is distinct and wide again from the fronts adding some extra weight and dimension to the audio track as a whole. Like the video there's really nothing at fault here.
- The Hidden Side of Persepolis. - 0:30:17
We have the real Marjane Satrapi and collaborators showing us the full production process. They indicated that although this was originally in comic book form they had to move away from it somewhat and not use those original stills for storyboards; they had to make a move cinematic feel to the production. It shows the painstaking efforts of the animators and the work they do. There's also an excellent short section on the Foley track construction which is something you rarely see and a very good addition for this disc.
- Behind the Scenes of Persepolis. - 0:08:39
A small EPK which is thin by comparison to the above short. No more than an extended trailer for the film in question but it does cover some of the English dubbing which was not seen anywhere else.
- Select Scene Commentaries.
Really Persepolis deserves a full on, end to end commentary, there is so much that could be mentioned to elaborate on most scenes. Alas this is not the case though so we end up with the poorer cousin of just three scenes in which Satrapi, Paronnaud and Mastroinanni give their thoughts. For the life of me I cannot understand why they thought that these three scenes were deserving of commentary; surely Satrapi herself should have demanded more this being an autobiographical work?
- Cannes Press Conference Q/A. - 0:29:01
A question and answer session held at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 where questions are asked and answered relating to the production of Persepolis. This is fine in itself but it has been covered before and really just again begs the question as to why a full on audio commentary is sadly missing.
- Animated Scene Comparisons. - 0:10:56.
4 scenes in which Marjane Satrapi shows the construction of some scenes from initial storyboards (not taken from the comic book) through to short computer assisted animations before finally being hand drawn. She discusses the nature of the scene in question, how teenagers are the same world wide, why sound was needed in certain scenes. Again coupled with the earlier Scene Comparison this just begs to be included in a full production commentary.
Trailers for The Jane Austen Book Club, The Other Boleyn Girl, Saawariya and Steep plus the usual “BluRay Experience” short.
The short production documentary is the jewel in the crown on this all too sparsely populated extras set and that's a major disappointment really. I had hoped for more, I had hoped for a full commentary by Satrapi herself and that would probably have been enough for me as it is her story that's being told here. Not to be though unfortunately. The other extras on the disc are just space fillers and really offer up nothing that cannot be gleaned from the first documentary. This has to be regarded as one of the worst missed opportunities I have come across for an extra set.
VerdictPersepolis is a heartfelt, personal storyline which has rightfully received all the praise that it has up till now. The story is engaging, there are characters in there that any viewer can easily relate to and the history behind each and every major character in Marjane's family is so in depth you feel you already know them. The animation style is simple but deceiving in its multi layered style and produces an image which is the absolutely the correct tone for this film.
The audio and video are excellent; the video itself cannot be faulted as it's a sterling transfer but some out there will always prefer the pristine soulless 3-dimensionality of CGI or of course live action. I understand why the producers made the choice they did on the visuals, anything else would have detracted from that all too important storyline and characterisation.
What ultimately lets this set down though are the extras. There's really only one short in there of any use and in itself it's a fantastic piece of work. This disc though is literally screaming out for more content; it surely deserves it, its fans surely deserve it also. That in itself is the fly in this otherwise silky smooth ointment and the overall score drops a point because of this. That aside this still comes highly recommended from me.
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- The Hidden Side of Persepolis. - 0:30:17