Life of Pi is a recent movie full of beautiful scenery and thought-provoking sequences.
By Rose Paulson
Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, beautifully captures Yann Martel’s dramatic novel of a boy stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger. A middle-aged Pi (Irfan Khan), now living in Canada, tells the story of his childhood living in India, the shipwreck that changed his life, and his amazing journey as the only human survivor to an aspiring writer (Rafe Spall). Pi lives with his family in an Indian zoo until his father announces the family and the animals are moving to Canada. After the shipwreck, Pi finds himself on the lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker. Pi is played by Suraj Sharma as teenager, Ayush Tandon at age 11, and Gautam Belur as a young child. The movie was released on Nov 21 with PG rating.
The cinematography of this movie is stunning. The beauty of the various scenes in India and on the ocean make the film seem illustrated. The vivid colors and the contrast of light and dark are almost unreal, contributing to the fantastic, fictional element of the story. Lee uses wide shots of open water and vibrant scenes of a bustling Indian city comparable to those of National Geographic. According to the NY Times, the tiger and the other animals are animated using CGI. Richard Parker seems lifelike and wild, never showing too much emotion.
Lee approaches the portrayal of animals in an interesting way. The movie shows the importance of animals to Pi and that animals have souls. Pi, having grown up around animals, is a vegetarian until scarce food on his lifeboat forces him otherwise. When Richard Parker jumps into the water and is unable to crawl back onto the boat, it seems wise for Pi to let the animal drown. However, after an internal battle he saves Richard Parker, knowing it will cause him more struggle. In order to feed Richard Parker, Pi catches a large fish. Lee creates a heart wrenching moment when Pi looks into the fish’s eye as he kills it.
The unique portrayal of animals might make Life of Pi seem like another clichéd animal movie, but other scenes preserve the wild side of animals. As a boy, Pi witnesses Richard Parker ruthlessly kill a lamb. While on the lifeboat, Richard Parker murders other stranded animals without remorse. When the Pi and the animal reach the island, Richard Parker disappears into the jungle without even a glance back to Pi.
The scenes embodying Pi’s childhood and adolescence make up the first portion of the film and an extensive exposition. Although Pi is foreign, adventurous, and heroic, the ordinary audience member can relate to him because he faces the same struggles as all children. In school, classmates tease him because of his name, Piscine, so next year he changes it to Pi and even learns the Greek letter. His family is nonreligious, so he is forced to explore his beliefs on his own. He has his first girlfriend, and when when his family leaves, he must say goodbye to his first love. Pi’s story remains fantastic and otherworldly, however. He grows up in a zoo, surrounded by wild animals and lush scenery. After changing his name, he amazes his classmates and learns Pi to the hundredth decimal. He learns about different faiths and ultimately collects different principles of different Gods to create his own mix of religions.
With its beauty and epic story, Life of Pi is a balanced work of art. It excites and intertwines the audience, leaving it suspenseful until the end. It takes the audience on a journey, where not only the scenery but the story itself seems to be crafted by a paintbrush. It leaves viewers in awe, wanting to read the book.
Image by Fox 2000 Pictures