Last night I attended Marjane Satrapi in Conversation with Francoise Mouly at MoMA, followed by a screening of Marjane’s latest film Poulet aux Prunes (Chicken with Plums). Unlike Persepolis, Chicken with Plums in a mostly non-animated feature-length film, although it blends live action, painted sets, and small bursts of animation like visual poetry.
Similar to Amelie in its magical realism, I was pretty smitten with the artistic style of this movie. So smitten, in fact, that I was able to overlook a few of its flaws (like lengthy montages that could have been shortened). The storyline is dark, but mixed with incredible humor, much like Marjane herself (who I am pretty darn smitten with as well!) She admitted how happy she was to be on the stage of MoMA talking to us, much like any art student at heart. “Growing up, I always heard MoMA this, MoMA that,” she confessed, “and now I get to be part of it, if only for a day.”
Marjane humorously revealed that before becoming an artist she wanted to be a #1. “private eye,” only to discover that it entailed “spying on cheating spouses” more than being Sherlock Holmes, and #2. “head hunter,” which she had mistaken to mean “bounty hunter,” finding out after the interview that she had it incredibly wrong. It was only then that she became #3. an artist. Ta-da!
(above) Francoise Mouly & Marjane Satrapi; (below) directors Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi.
Marjane also confessed that she originally didn’t want to make her first movie Persepolis into a film; the idea had been proposed to her instead. In order to make it difficult for the studio to say yes, she requested obstacles like hand-drawn animation (over CGI because it will “eventually look too dated”), black and white, etc., but they ended up agreeing to all of it without the blink of an eye. Good thing too, because I ♡ Persepolis! Although it’s always interesting to hear behind-the-scenes of any artistic process.
Speaking of which, here is my own artistic process on drawing Nasser-Ali (actor Mathieu Amalric) inspired from the film Chicken with Plums. My sketches (above) Staedtler Non-Photo Pencil, and (below) Copic Multiliner Brush Pen.
In the end, you’ll wish cigarettes weren’t so bad for you. Movies (especially French ones!) make smoking look totally glamorous with animated smoke clouds; a romantic filler during life’s little pauses.
ink illustrations © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow); movie poster © Celluloïd Dreams, press photos © Reuters