Review: The Life of Pi
The Life of Pi is a 3D film directed by Ang Lee and based on an adapted screenplay by David Magee. It retells the story from the book by the same name written by Yann Martel.
The novel was rejected at least five times by London publishing houses, before being accepted by Knopf Canada. The film however, has had a much better international reception, being one of only a few films to earn more in China than it did in the United States.
Ang Lee’s film tells the story of Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi), the son of the owner of a beautiful zoo in India.
The tale begins after a writer asks a now old Pi Patel about his “amazing journey” for a book.
Pi does say that he has an amazing story, and promises to the writer (and therefore, the audience) that his story will make him believe in God. Pi grows up to become a rather curious, different kid; someone that the audience can relate to having trouble and getting bullied at school, when he falls in love and how eventually, we get to the beginning of the journey – the Patel family need to sell the animals from the zoo.
The hero unwillingly boards a ship to take his family and the animals to Canada – the country set to be Pi and his family’s new home and where the animals will be sold. After facing abuse and racism, a big storm occurs and the ship sinks. Pi loses everything an ends up in the company of a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a tiger named Richard Parker.
DS will stop here to avoid further spoilers – but Pi’s story is a fantastic tale told with the help of beautiful animations and computer graphics. It is endearing how the film can move and entertain – at certain points there are sudden “scares” (the tiger jumps at the screen quite a few times!). It was funny to see so many people “jump” at the same moment and laugh together soon after. The only problem is that the film can drag (given Ang Lee’s artistry as a director leading pauses in the action) – but it is an incredible experience. It is worth mentioning, that the 3D in this film helps a lot for the experience and engaging. The scenes where you can see the animals and places in India are beautiful.
Just as the book, the film allows the audience to give the tale a personal interpretation. The reader here might wonder if Pi successfully made DS believe in God, and the answer would be – perhaps. The interesting factor is that in its narrative the question here forces the audience into theological reflection with no necessary right or wrong answer.
It is definitely a film that DS would recommend, as it makes you laugh, cry, jump and despair after seeing the young man adrift for so long with a tiger. It also has also a very interesting ending, forcing the audience with a question – the most ideal function of art.