The Life of Pi

I see about one movie a year in the theater. Usually my dislike of crowds, germs and leaving the property don’t allow me to see many. I made an exception and really pushed my other half to go see The Life of Pi. I thought it should be seen on a large screen to truly appreciate the scope of the project. In a weird twist, my partner actually knows and has worked with the man who edited it. so, off we went. It was a quiet monday evening and it was a good time to get off the property.
I could not have asked for more in a film. It has the stunning visual imagery. The sweeping score, and of course a story brought to life by Ang Lee. The book has sat unread on my shelf, and I had no idea what I was in for. If I had know that animals would be killed I don’t think I would have brought along my partner. I could see her squirming through much of it, but she didn’t walk out. I was impressed. She didn’t even leave to use the restroom. Considering she ingested god only knows how many ounces of soda and has a bladder the size of a walnut, that is a feat. We both sat transfixed as the story transitioned from the zoo in India to the ship. I won’t really say much, as I don’t want to spoil it. I will share my emotional response.
I found myself quickly traveling from amused and amazed to spellbound. The imagery beyond my wildest dreams. I know a lot of people said Life of Pi would never be made into a movie. That it was just too difficult. Considering so much CGI was used, it didn’t get that “yeah right” part of the brain going. It kept the suspension of disbelief going, even when it was very clear the images on the screen were entirely computer generated. It was pretty incredible. I think we are edging closer to a time when real and generated will be hard to distinguish. Animatronics are becoming so much better. Life of Pi really showed the process at its finest. It was easy to lose sight of the fact that Richard Parker (the tiger) was not in fact a real Bengal in the boat with Pi. or that Orange Juice, wasn’t a live orangutan. This helped create a seamless transition from the zoo to the boat. It engaged the viewer emotionally. Completely involved you, and brought about a relationship with these animals. It wasn’t just Pi you loved and cared about. It was these characters, in the form of animals, that allowed us to continue the journey. There would be little depth with just Pi alone. But it would be far too much if there was no breaks in this saga. Using the flashback/ story telling helps break it up into bearable pieces. It adds life to the story, and contrasts well with all the CGI imagery. It grounds the viewer in the here and now. The fantasy pauses and you catch your breath. There are questions. Many questions asked of the viewer in the course of the movie. Many involve g*d and beliefs in religion. The end of the film is left an open book, a page left for the viewer to draw upon their own beliefs. What really happened on that boat? What version of the story is “real”? What is make-believe? I think it will be different for some people. There is no right answer. There is only the journey the film takes us on, while it engages our mind and asks us about faith.
I loved this film. Sure there were some very unpleasant parts, but there were also beautiful touching images, and heart wrenching passages. It touched upon humor, and adolescence. It touched on love and loss. In the two hours you pass briefly through so very many emotions. It, at times has the viewer feeling storm-tossed. Lost at other points. But in the end, it leaves you in the present in awe of all it did in just a few hours. I’d definitely recommend the film.

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