Basement Films: And knowing is half the battle

Sean Strain

All of us have our own personal beliefs and perceptions about the world around us. We form our opinions about politics, religion, foreign affairs, sports teams, food, and entertainment. We also form ideas about the people that live in the same world based on our own experiences. Of course, these opinions could be entirely wrong.

I personally used to have very little understanding about the world beyond the United States, especially about certain countries that may be in a specific part of the world or had an incomprehensible name. I thought that, while they were not Third World countries, they were backwards in some way in comparison to the United States and had severe problems.

My ignorance was fortunately pointed out by the education system and by movies from other countries (which is a reason I love foreign films: learning about other countries). One such film was Persepolis, an animated film based on the graphic novel of the same name. The film chronicles the life of Marjane, an Iranian woman who grew up during the time of the 1979 Revolution. The picture of Iran some Westerners may have is one of a people oppressed by a government entangled with religious doctrine. Yet, this is the world after the Revolution, but before this we are shown a picture of the Iranian middle class before ‘79 that had parties, wore veils, and openly discussed politics. Throughout the film, we are given the image of Iran unavailable to anyone outside of it, especially through the character of Marjane. When we see Muslim women, I don’t think many people can see the person past the veil. All they can see is the oppression that they associate with the culture, but Marjane is a much more rounded character besides being a Muslim woman. She idolized Bruce Lee as a child, she listens to punk music, she gets married, she gets divorced, she suffers, and she obtains moments of happiness. Marjane is much more than simply a veil.

I think it is important to find anything that challenges their ideas of the world whether it’s books, films, or other people. If we never try to absorb all the information available to us, then we merely come off as ignorant and uneducated. With the internet and other information outlets, I don’t believe there is any excuse to not discover what life is like on the other side of the globe.