Chicken with Plums

Chicken with Plums (2011/2012)

Opened: 08/17/2012 Limited

Lincoln Plaza08/17/2012 - 08/23/20127 days
Angelika/NYC08/17/2012 - 08/23/20127 days
Village East08/24/2012 - 09/13/201221 days
Music Box Thea...08/24/2012 - 08/30/20127 days
Monica 4-Plex08/31/2012 - 09/13/201214 days
Town Center 509/14/2012 - 09/20/20127 days
Music Hall 309/14/2012 - 09/20/20127 days
Kendall Square...09/21/2012 - 09/27/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

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Genre: French Drama (French w/English subtitles)

Rated: PG-13 for some drug content, violent images, sensuality and smoking.

Adapted from the graphic novel Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi.


Teheran, 1958. Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. As he hopes for its arrival, he plunges into deep reveries, with dreams as melancholic as they are joyous, taking him back to his youth and even to a conversation with Azrael, the Angel of Death, who reveals the future of his children... As pieces of the puzzle gradually fit together, the poignant secret of his life comes to light: a wonderful story of love which inspired his genius and his music...

Director's Statement

Chicken with Plums is the story of a famous musician whose prized instrument has been ruined. Unable to replace his violin, he decides to die, and eight days later, he renders his soul, yet what seems like the end is really just the beginning. Under its romantic allure, this film is conceived as a thriller with flashbacks and flash forwards which shed light on Nasser's personality and the reasons for his despair. Death is used as a springboard to talk about life.

The central themes of our film are the complexities of the world and the mysteries of the human soul. That's why this film can jump registers from dramatic to comic to heartbreaking, because life is exactly like that. What interests us is not whether Nasser will die nor how, but why. We all share his universal quest to know, because it addresses the crystallization and the roots of our emotional life.

We have been working as a duo since Persepolis, and our collaboration demonstrates the absurdity of the term "culture shock". Coming from two different cultures, being of opposite sexes and not sharing the same background, we still managed to blend a mutual culture for ourselves. What interests us is this melting, this mixing -- the choice of making this film which takes place in Iran with French players such as Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer and Chiara Mastroianni, Italian actress Isabella Rossellini, Iranian Golshifteh Farahani and Moroccan Jamel Debbouze only emphasizes more the universality of our purpose and the richness of diversity. It's like Lubitsch who made films in America which took place in Prague or Warsaw with American actors. In any case, the stage is a place where someone plays someone else. Our Tehran is imaginary and it is not be anchored in the idea of reconstitution. The city is created entirely in a studio where the locations and the actors are treated sublimely, like in the magic of 50s Technicolor movies where realism was less important than aesthetics. This artistic choice helped us to avoid mannerism and helped us reinvent by using models, trompe l'oeil, backdrops, the artificial and the abstract which we needed to achieve the timelessness of our fable.

We also looked to German expressionism for inspiration, particularly playing with shadow and light. Our aesthetic choices are in the service of praising beauty and emotion. The film's music is a character in itself. At times minimalist, then symphonic, it is be of Russian inspiration (Korsakov, Rachmaninov). There are also bursts of traditional Iranian music, including the use of the zarb (Iranian percussion instrument) and the tar (traditional lute). Olivier Bernet, the composer of Persepolis, worked with us again on this new project.

Chicken with Plums is the second volume in a trilogy that began with Persepolis and which will end with The Eleventh Laureate. This trilogy traces several generations of a family and a country in the 20th century.

Persepolis tells the story of a family caught in the torments of war and revolution between 1974 and 1994. Chicken with Plums covers the history of this same family between 1930 and 1990. Always against a political background: the U.S. coup d'etat of the 50s, the imprisonment of Nasser's brother Abdi (the grandfather and communist prince in Persepolis), and the female character Irane referring to the country Iran (just as France is also a woman's first name), a symbol of a lost love and a lost dream. The Eleventh Laureate, the third volume, will address another part of this family between 1900 and 1960.

PS: Azrael is the name of the angel of death in biblical and Koranic traditions.

-- Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud (Directors)