Life of Pi (Take sublime voyage in 3D!)

December 2, 2012 1 Comment

My rating of this film:  9/10

Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi’ is a splendid film.

Lee proves to be the ideal director to take on the making of the “unfilmable” bestseller by Yann Martel, seamlessly blending his ability to create visual marvels (remember “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) with quietly poignant emotional moments(don’t forget “Brokeback Mountain”).  His choice to use 3D  is quietly  successful and non-gimmicky and his command of CGI technology creates a stunningly magical world that feels real.

Life of Pi, as you no doubt already know, is ostensibly the story of  Pi Patel,  a shipwrecked  Hindu boy(Suraj Sharma) trying to survive on the open seas in a lifeboat shared with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  The story begins with the adult Pi  relating his fantastical story to a Canadian journalist and promising to provide us with “a story  that will make you believe in God.”( The adult Pi is played wonderfully by Irrfan Khan–remember him as Sunil in HBO’s  “In Treatment”?  Khan’s soulful eyes communicate depths of feeling and anchor us to the emotional reality of the fantastical tale.)   Pi’s  quest for spiritual meaning has been criticized by some as preachy, cute or new age babble, but truly reflects one of the book’s major  themes which Lee treats with with respect (and, I would add, a subtle layer of darkness that is far from simple).   The need/ability to construct alternate narratives remains at the center of the story and continues to generate much of the discussion resulting from the book and the film.

The heart of the film is the evolving relationship between the boy and the tiger as they both struggle to survive.  Is this a metaphor of man’s struggle to co-exist with his own inner tiger?  His external world?  Yes, and more.

The CGI-generated Richard Parker is remarkable in ways I will not describe (at the risk of too much spoiling) except to say that the Lee manages to create a creature whose nature never turns Disney.

The beauty of this film is difficult to describe in words (remember this when you are watching the end of the film, which has been, I believe, mistakenly criticized).  The visuals are equally stunning in powerfully dramatic scenes  and in moments of exquisite calmness.

Directors like  Martin Scorcese (Hugo), Wim Wenders (Pina) and Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) have all adapted 3D technology in ways that create new possibilities to experience film.   Ang Lee joins these artists with this remarkable movie.   This is a must 3D movie!  Jolyn Wagner


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One Comment to “Life of Pi (Take sublime voyage in 3D!)”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    Online conversations indicate that in the book Pi refers to meerkat bones in the boat. I don’t recall seeing them in the film, nor Pi speaking of them. Did either of these occur in the film?

    There’s a difference between what’s true, what it’s reasonable to believe on the evidence, and what people find most comfortable to believe. I think this film raises the question about what it’s most reasonable to believe on the evidence. What would it have been reasonable for you to believe upon hearing everything that Pi said about his journey? Of course, there are always three, not two, options: believe, disbelieve, OR suspend judgment. But shouldn’t everyone adopt the SAME option on the same evidence, that is doesn’t the evidence REQUIRE everyone to take the same stance on the proposition?

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