Ang Lee’s 2012 film Life of Pi is based on the book of the same name (released in 2001 by author Yann Martel) and tells the tale of a young man that survives a shipwreck, only to find himself on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, with a screenplay by David Magee.
Pi – Born Piscine Molitor Patel (named after his uncle’s favourite swimming pool) is a young man in India, whose parents run a local zoo with a range of exotic animals – including the oddly named ‘Richard Parker’ – their large tiger. His childhood has seen him wresting with spirituality from an early age, taking on a belief in a number of religions at the same time.
Following the decision of his father to relocate his family to Canada, they set sail, along with all of the animals from the zoo. Disaster strikes though when the ship sink, leaving Pi alone on a lifeboat with some of the zoo animals, rapidly leaving him only with the tiger.
What begins here is a journey across the Pacific Ocean, through the mysteries of the sea and magical visual effects as Pi develops a friendship with Richard Parker and they try to survive their situation, witnessing some remarkable moments along the way.
What Ang Lee achieves in this film is remarkable. I read this book years ago and by its nature, it felt as though it couldn’t be successfully translated into a film. Yet through incredible visual effects, what is brought to the screen is a tale of survival, and a strange friendship.
It’s a wonderful advert for the beauty of CGI when used correctly, rather than the nagative connotations that often follow the phrase conjuring up lazy images of robots smashing each other to pieces. Yet what the team have done here is to use it to tell a wonderful story that couldn’t be achieved without it.
Suraj Sharma also stands out in the largest role of the film, the 16 year old version of Pi. There are a number of supporting roles, including Irrfan Kahn as the adult Pi, and Safe Spall playing Yann Martel.
Ang Lee’s direction of this visual triumph stands out though, as does the musical score of the film, Mychael Danna. It would go onto win 4 oscars – Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score.
A fantastic film, that is beautifully filmed and has a wonderful tale to tell.
That’s what I thought – what about you? Have you seen it? Comment below and share your thoughts…