Sean Penn and Iggy Pop have signed on as voice talent for the English-language version of Sony Picture Classics' toon 'Persepolis.'
The recruits join the already-announced Gena Rowlands and Catherine Deneuve for the animated toon based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical, bestselling graphic novel growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution.
The lead character of Satrapi in the French version was Chiara Mastroianni, Deneuve's daughter, but unless further notice Kirsten Dunst star of Sophia Coppola’s drama’s ( Marie Antoinette, Virgin Suicides )will be doing the voice over for the English version.
Penn will play Satrapi's long-suffering father while Pop will voice the role of the young girl's rebellious and politically active uncle.
Work on the English-version dub will begin this summer. The Picture will be released Stateside in the fall and producers are trying to ready an English-language version in time for its preem at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
'I think it's very good that these two actors have accepted. It will give the film another boost,' said Hengameh Panahi, Dreamachine co-topper, the new international sales company combining Panahi's Celluloid Dreams and Jeremy Thomas' Hanway Films.
Celluloid Dreams handled international sales of the pic, which was produced by Marc-Antoine Robert and Xavier Rigault of 2.4.7. Films; Kathleen Kennedy exec-produced, in co-production with France 3 Cinema, and brought Sony Pictures Classics on board to handle the U.S. release.
The Picture has been a smash in Gaul since its release. The Toon has grossed $3.7 million over two frames, and seen its release expanded from 199 prints to 370.
Though born Iran in 1969, Satrapi now lives in Paris. 'Persepolis' has been at the center of a feud with Iranian authorities for its wry, satirical take on the oppressive life under the rule of the mullahs ever since its preem at Cannes, where it shared the Jury Prize with Carlos Reygadas' 'Silent Light.'
Iranian government officials slammed the Cannes jury's decision as an example of 'Islamophobia,' per Mehdi Kalhor, a cultural adviser to Iranian prexy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Bangkok Intl. Film Festival dropped the pic as its opener following a request from the Iranian embassy in Bangkok.
The US release of Persepolis is much expected this Fall. It is all the more interesting that it is probably the very first film about the Iranian Revolution and its social, historical and cultural effects on Iranian society. It is also a breakthrough for the Arts for the Iranian Diaspora Community that has settled worldwide and particularly in Europe and the United States. Although the film remains strangely enough a French Film on an Iranian subject, it will escape no one that it is also a pertinent illustration of life in exile regardless of what community or ethnic group one could belong too. The already International success of the comic books by the author turned director will certainly guarantee the films success off Seas. The reaction of the American audience to this film will certainly be of particular interest, given the current and past diplomatic crisis ( US hostages were held for 444 Days in Tehran by Islamic militants upon the victory of the Revolution 1979) between Iran and the United States.
Marjan Satrapi’s self derision, ironic humor and at times harsh outlook on life both in the West and in Iran nevertheless successfully carry an emotionally powerful and humanistic message through her film. In many ways the film seems to also have matured her both as an artist and an intellectual. Her hypersensitiveness or as the French would say her “écorché vive” side that was much more apparent in the comic book seems to have been replaced by a more balanced view of the events of 1979 that shook her country and the lives of many of her compatriots, either forced to exile or inner silence in order to survive. In addition the film allows a certain necessary distance between Mrs. Satrapi the author and Marjan the cartoon hero which may not have been entirely the case in the original comic book on which the animated film is based on. Persepolis, the film is indeed the result of two years of a fruitful collaboration of two minds and talents. That of Marjane Satrapi and co-director Vincent Paronnaud. An Iranian Woman and a Frenchman united by a common humor and complimentary style that enriches the story and its universal message.
It should be noted that the French animation was created only after recording the voices of the actors and cast. It allowed more freedom and invention for the initial French cast unlike the English version which will only be dubbed for this purpose. The same could be said for any other language version. It may be a detail but it does have its importance in that the initial cast truly imposed their personal style and personalities to their animated characters. Apart from Catherine Deneuve nearly all the other characters will be replaced by an American Cast who are equally talented but may not entirely render the very French and Persian Humor that are clearly interconnected in the film including for the accents. Nevertheless Satrapi and Paronnaud’s cinematic culture and interests do reflect in the choice of the American Cast. Sean Penn’s and Gena Rowland’s filmography is strongly associated to independent films and the Independent Art World to which the French Iranian duo director’s belong to and admire. Rowland in particular like her French counter part Danielle Darrieux, is equally a film Legend and iconic figure of America’s most respected Independent director John Cassavetes who spearheaded the “auteur” approach at odds with Hollywood Studio’s. The choice of the other members of the American Cast is also pertinent. Iggy Pop a Rock Star to play the role of Satrapi’s Communist Grandpa who also happens to have been a Qajar Prince may seem strange at first but it is also justified by Satrapi’s invisible tribute to a music genre she actually cherishes: Punk and Hard Rock Music.
As for the title role of Marjan being played by Kirsten Dunst the choice seems quite odd and yet justifiable. In many ways Kirsten Dunst is the quintessential American Teenage looking Star of Sophia Coppola’s drama’s that do find parallels with Satrapi’s often dark and disillusioned humor. Marie Antoinette and Virgin Suicides are very much autobiographical in Coppola’s filmography. Indeed the director of the Oscar Awarding Lost in Translation often depicts the malaise of her generation and the difficulties of communicating in a World that ignores its protagonists. Marie Antoinette is not in my opinion the most memorable movie on the Former beheaded Queen of France but it does take bold steps in film narration and historical depiction very much like Satrapi in the use of music and cultural anachronism’s. Even if Satrapi would most probably have been a Revolutionary in 18th Century France, her Qajar inheritance ( True or False) would probably have made her understand if not share the lonely disillusionments of the French Queen’s Royal upbringing.
However the choice of Dunst if confirmed may be more due to the American executive Producer Kathleen Kennedy who may logically prefer to invest on a trendy name and face in Hollywood albeit only recognizable through her voice.