Films Of 2012 - No. 8
Life Of Pi (Dir. Ang Lee)Spoiler Warning: The film's ending is discussed in detail.
Having not read Yann Martel’s award winning novel, I knew very little about Life of Pi before entering the cinema. Even if I had read the source material, I doubt it would have affected my cinematic experience. Despite many calling the book "unfilmable", Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi can stand on its own two feet (or four paws) as a marvellous film.
The titular Pi is travelling with his family and their zoo animals to start a new life in Canada. After the ship is sunk by a vicious storm, Pi finds himself on a life boat in the middle of the ocean with only a few zoo animals for company.
Life Of Pi is a stunning technical achievement which could not have been made (and was rightly not made) until the technology was in place to create the mesmeric oceanic backdrop of the extensive middle act. More importantly, the mix of CGI and real life footage used to create the powerful Bengal tiger Richard Parker works splendidly. If the tiger wasn’t so convincing, it could well have been rather distracting.
Suraj Sharma plays Pi for the majority of the film and turns in a fantastic performance. For someone who had never acted before and was not able to swim prior to filming, Sharma gives a fantastic performance where he convincingly portrays Pi’s changing moods and attitudes whilst floating across the ocean. Life of Pi takes the audience on a colourful and eventful journey, but its real focus lies in its ending and the nature of storytelling and faith.
Everybody “prefers” the first story (it’s got a tiger in it!), but the second story is the true one. Does my preference for the first story mean I believe in God? No. For some, their preference for the first story mirrors their acceptance of faith. Sometimes believing in the more unlikely fantasy can give that person the hope and strength they need to face the often harsh reality of life. That’s not how I personally live my life but I can accept that that is how some people live. The adult Pi chooses to live his life this way, but the film doesn't force this viewpoint on its audience.
Ultimately, Life of Pi asks questions of our attitude towards faith and makes for a thought provoking and dazzling piece of cinema.