**Warning – Spoilers for the end of the film and probably the book**
In a change to how I normally go and see a movie at the cinema, I decided to change things up a bit by partaking in “Cinema Roulette”. The rules were very simple. You go to the cinema and go and see the film that is starting nearest to your arrival time. You couldn’t go and see a film you had already seen and we had ruled out The Hobbit, as no one wanted to see that at all. The reasons behind this way of choosing a film was the fact there was nothing out that was a must see for us. So with the rules of “Cinema Roulette”, I found myself going to see Life of Pi.
Surprisingly I rather enjoyed this film even though I didn’t really fancy it due to mediocre reviews and a confusing trailer. If I were to compare it to any film, I would say it is very similar to the film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks. The main difference being that instead of a football named “Wilson”, we have a Bengal Tiger named “Richard Parker” as our hero’s companion for this tale of survival.
For those unfamiliar with the book on which the film is based, it is the tale of a young man named Pi and his fight for survival on the open sea after the ship he was travelling on with his family sinks. He is not alone, for his ship-mate on the little lifeboat is a ferocious Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.
The reason that the tiger was on the ship was due to the fact that Pi’s father had sold all the animals from his zoo to other establishments in Canada and America. Both the animals and Pi’s family were travelling to Canada to start a new life until a storm hits their ship. Unfortunately everyone perishes, except Pi, a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and Richard Parker. Though due to survival of the fittest (and some pretty harrowing scenes right at the beginning) only Richard Parker and Pi end up standing.
We are then witnesses to Pi and Richard Parker’s fight to survive this most harrowing of situations. You watch helplessly as Pi has to build himself back up from the bottom, learning as he goes along. Each decision he makes is important to both his and, in the end Richard Parker’s, survival. It is pretty heavy stuff at times and you can’t help but hope that both make it. By half way through, you realise that each character needs the other to survive.
This is a movie that deals with many heavy themes. The belief in God, your faith and the human spirit is all put to the test. For a beautifully made film, it has a profound effect on the viewer. Your spirit soars with each small achievement Pi makes. You mourn with each set back or loss. Yet, at the time you really don’t realise it.
Watching this fantastical tale, you are left wondering how much of it is true. Some of the parts of Pi’s journey seem so far-fetched, you are sitting there wondering if this is only his perception of events due to the trauma of losing his family and being so malnourished.
By the time the elder Pi has finished recounting his tale to a writer, you are left as weary as Pi was when he washed up on the Mexican beach. Yet, that is not where the story ends and it is only when we are taken back to the hospital that Pi was recovering do we learn the true story of what happened.
I was left gobsmacked and as the pieces started to fall into place, we gain a better understanding of what happened to Pi. I defy anyone not to be moved by the last ten minutes of the film as the realisation of what people will do in order to survive, that when it comes to the crunch what it can cost the human soul, yet Pi comes out the other side of this ordeal a stronger person.
This film is a beautiful and a true piece of artwork. The director has made great use of CGI and 3D technology in bringing this tale to life. Many directors don’t know how to utilise 3D, yet Lee uses this tool to enrich the experience so you could almost reach out and touch it. The scenes with the oceanic ecosystem are just a joy to behold. The movement of the sea creatures are so fluid you feel as if you are actually looking down into the ocean. For this alone, I urge you to see this film.
My only criticism of this film is the length. At times, especially at the beginning, it seems a bit drawn out, especially with the parts of Pi discovering God in many places. I do understand why this was important to the story, but the narration by the older Pi did seem to pull you out of the story. This towing and froing from the past to the present meant you were jumping about. Again, I do know why this is used to help enhance and build the groundwork for future plotlines.
Overall, for a film seen on a bit of a whim I ended up really liking it. It has just that little bit of something that meant you came out of the cinema a bit more enriched. Would I watch this film again? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I’m glad I did.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
LIFE OF PI (2012)
DIRECTOR: Ang Lee
STARRING: Suraj Shaman, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall
GENRE: Drama, Fantasy