When we first thought of this blog we wanted to write about more than film, we wanted to write about everything we loved; television, video games, music, all forms of media. Whilst we haven’t done this yet we will be for halloween. So with that in mind bare in mind how highly I rate this film when I say it’s one of the best things I own, not just film. If I had to take five forms of media with me on a desert island, well, then I’d take five books etc on how to survive in the wilderness, I’m not an idiot, but I would darn well regret not taking this.
So, onto the actual story. This is hard-hitting, it’s the true story of a girl growing up in Iran against the backdrop of the Islamic Revolution, and it’s just as happy as it sounds. Although this is a really brutal story, one that encompasses all manner of horrible things: war, assassinations, rape, suicide, Austria. Yet it is genuinely laugh out loud funny too, because, whilst all these awful things are happening, she is still a teenager for a lot of it, so is still sarcastic and cynical.
I could spend the rest of this review telling you how important this film (and the book, especially the book) are in understanding a lot of the problems that in the Middle East, I could tell you how this film important this film is, instead I’ll just tell you why this film is important to me on a personal level. I brought this film on a whim. I was walking around Woolworths (which really dates this story) one day between split shifts, I saw this DVD cover, the tagline: War. Revolution. Family. Punk Rock. All Part Of Growing Up. I was suitably intrigued and decided to buy it.
It’s strange to think how close I came to not buying this, that I’m only aware of one of my favourite films, and one of my favourite graphic novels through impulse buying. There’s so much that could have stopped this happening, if I wasn’t in the right mix of bored and just-been-paid I wouldn’t have brought it. I sometimes wonder whether I would have got into this film any other way. Yes, the writer later directed a Ryan Reynolds film (which was amazing by the way) but despite how much of a fan I was of the film, I’m not sure whether I would have checked out the directors previous films. It does have a good cast, Sean Penn in particular is amazing, but I’m not sure whether that would have been enough to make me watch it. There’s always personal recommendation, but for some reason I’m not sure I would have reacted well to “animated Iranian film that’s really brutal and depressing”.
I do love when stuff like that happens, when you take a chance and are rewarded. When you buy an album based purely on the album title and it turns out amazing.
When you buy a book based on the title and it turns out hilarious.
When you see a film purely because you have a cineworld card and it turns out to be one of the best you’ve seen all year.
Admittedly it doesn’t work out all the time.
But when it does you feel superb. You have got into something on your own, something you can recommend to others, which will hopefully become someone’s new favourite film/book/album etc.
As much as I hate to, I will have to end this on a downer note. The book is very important, it teaches so much about life and freedom that if I ran an educational programme I would make it compulsory. So what was the American reaction to a book that showcases the struggles of everyday Muslims, that details the western intervention that led to the modern troubles, and that portrays non-Christians in a sympathetic light? It became the second most challenged book in American schools in 2014. Congratulations American schools, you’re now on an equal footing with other bastions of freedom like Iran and Lebanon. I hope you’re f*cking proud of all your freedoms.
Watch if you like:
- Grave Of The Fireflies. Also brutal, also brilliant.
- The Voices