Published on July 22nd, 2013 | by Allan Brown1
Life of Pi Review
Movie Review: Life Of Pi (2012)
Director: Ang Lee
Writers: Yann Martel, David Magee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
Plot: Life Of Pi tells the story of young Piscine “Pi” Patel whilst travelling by boat from India to Canada survives a devastating thunder storm hurtling him into an epic journey of adventure, discovery and faith. His only companion and fellow survivor aboard the solitary lifeboat, a 500 pound Bengal Tiger.
The Life of Pi was first published in 2001 by Yann Martel. It tells the story of a young man’s fight for survival aboard a lifeboat after being shipwrecked for 227 days on the Pacific Ocean. The novel soon went on to become a worldwide bestseller and won countless awards across the globe including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Naturally the film rights were snapped up soon after its publication and since 2003 have seen many a director come and go. A film with one main character and a Tiger aboard a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean was enough to see even the most accomplished directors run for the hills. From M Night Shyamalan to Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the general consensus and overall reflection was that an adaptation would not translate well to screen and would largely fall short of the wonderment and symbolism the book offered, not to mention the challenges it would throw up to anyone who chose to tackle such a project.
Oscar winning Director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) picked up the project in 2009 and worked on adapting the novel for a number of years. As a result he has managed to bring this “un-filmable” multi layered and profound novel to the Silver Screen with breathtaking visuals and majesty. Ang Lee has proved himself a master of stylized film and “Life of Pi” is possibly his most visually stunning motion picture to date and it stands as a testament to the imagination and wonderment of storytelling.
The story of Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel (Suraj Sharma) unfolds through the narration of the elder Pi, he recounts the day his life was overturned when a cargo ship carrying himself, his family and numerous animals from their zoo perished at sea during a devastating thunder storm.
Being the sole human survivor, Pi is forced to contend with a troop of animals that also manage to seek refuge on his lifeboat. As the days pass and the group of animals are slowly cut down until only one remains: an adult Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The two survivors are faced with serious challenges on their journey across the ocean. None more terrifying than the close proximity they share. What develops is a volatile relationship that ultimately saves Pi’s life.
The films achievement in storytelling is the variety of topics it explores: spirituality, faith, mortality, maturity, death, and survival. Although many of these themes are subtle and likely to pass over the heads of younger viewers it will no doubt evoke strong debate and reflection in others. The movie puts many questions to the viewer including what lengths would we go to when faced with the possibility of extinction.
The account is essentially a story within a story that blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. It deals with the harsh realities of life, death and illness in a way that will likely be the strong talking point to the films symbolic, metaphoric and thematic significance to life and this can be felt in every scene.
The entire weight of Life of Pi is shouldered by newcomer Suraj Sharma’s. Much of this movie focuses on a lone human in a boat with a tiger resulting in long periods of silence; therefore casting a weak actor in the role of Pi would have been as disastrous. The range of emotions conveyed by Sharma makes it difficult to believe that this is his first role and that he won it all purely by chance (Sharma only intended to support his brother during his audition but then ending up winning the role out of a 3,000 actors)
Visually, Life of Pi is a film unlike any other. The Cinematography in every scene is beautifully realised, bursting with creativity and life, truly a visual feast to behold. The CGI in the movie in particular the animals which inhabit most scenes are nearly indiscernible from their flesh and bone counterparts and 3D element has not been better executed since Avatar. It breathes life into many of the scenes and highlights the depth and solitude of the vast ocean of which plays home for the most part of the film.
Summary: Life of Pi is a modern day classic that will strike a chord with both a younger and more mature audience. It’s striking visuals and depth will evoke discussion and like most fables will transport you to a fantastical world while remaining an allegory on life begging the question do we really need to see in order to believe?