By Roozbeh Badie
Ang Lee, the director of Hulk and Brokeback Mountain, has taken on the task of bringing the supposedly unfilmable Life of Pi to the big screen.
Based on the best selling 2001 novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi tells the life of Piscine Patel, an Indian boy whose family owns a zoo. After the family decides to move their zoo to Canada, they sail on a Japanese boat. which ends up sinking and leaving Pi on a lifeboat for 227 days with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Life of Pi has some of the most impressive visuals I’ve ever seen in a film, even without the 3D, and it continues to be my favorite story of all time.
As mentioned I am a huge fan of the book, being forced to read it at age 13 by my mother and actually loving it. Of course I did not understand most of the book at that age so I revisited it before seeing the film. The movie does take some things out of the story and adds others; however they’re nothing that should force those who have read the book, like me, to not love the film.
Now let’s talk about the characters. Pi is the protagonist and therefore very likeable and relatable. Yes, most of us have never been stranded on a boat with a tiger before, but that’s what makes the character Pi so great because we approve of his actions and realize that we would have done the same if we were in his position. Obviously the characters go through some growth, and Pi changes more than just growing a small beard. Richard Parker is also a well-developed character. Just the fact that they gave this tiger a name makes him more of a character with feelings that the audience cares about than just some random animal; plus we’ve known him since childhood. Now Richard Parker doesn’t talk or anything, so don’t suddenly think that this is corny.
The relationship between Pi and Richard Parker also changes. At the beginning of the film when Pi meets this Tiger there is a loving bond between them, but a lesson from his father teaches Pi that Richard Parker is a cruel animal. Then when they end up on this life raft it isn’t like they suddenly become friends. Though Pi and Richard Parker are enemies throughout the entire film, but you realize that it’s this constant war between them that allows both of them to survive. I enjoyed seeing that relationship evolve and it took a new approach to animal human relationships that isn’t generally shown in films.
Now for the presentation: the film is gorgeous in every meaning of the word. The 3-D is done in a way that makes you look in awe, not hurt your eyes. The CGI of Richard Parker and all the other wildlife Pi encounters is also fantastically done and there is one scene of this movie involving a whale that took my breath away; it was absolutely amazing how beautiful they made everything look — from the whale, to Pi, to Richard Parker; even the water was a work of art.
Overall Life of Pi was a joy to watch on the big screen. The visuals were mind blowing, the story is fantastic and the characters undergo deep changes that make this a story worth telling. Even the writer who Pi is telling this story to changes his opinions of the world. I would recommend it for anyone who is in the mood for a beautiful show with deep story and not a lot of action, especially to those who read the book.