Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Life of Pi: Movie Review

Telling a life story with imagination and visual entertainment.

Life of Pi is better than “this year’s Hugo”. It has a story. A simple story but a global one that pulls you in and then lets you marvel at the epic cinematography and impressive visuals. Pi (Irfan Khan), as a middle-aged man, retells the story of how he became the man he is today, and how he got the name “Pi”. He was named after a swimming pool in Paris, the Piscine Molitar. This has brought him both grief and happiness. 2012

Directed by: Ang Lee

Screenplay by: David Magee
Based on the novel by Yann Martel

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan and Rafe Spall

At times, the movie – or rather the life story of Pi – is about spirituality. But from a non-religious point of view, it just seemed so reasonable, welcoming and universal. Pi believed that he could accept the elements of religions as he chose them. Only what made sense to him. He didn’t accept that believing in different religions at the same time was the same thing as believing in nothing at all. If he believed in it, and it gave him a sense of being, then that’s all that mattered. I will accept that this film is about spirituality, but it is not about religion.

The film is based on a book which many declared was impossible to adapt, and many more, including myself, declared was pointless to adapt. But I am happy to admit that I have been proved wrong. The heart to this story was the art of storytelling, and that is such a simple message to portray, that any medium can be used. All you need is a little imagination.

The incident that sets this tale of life afloat, is young Pi (Suraj Sharma) travelling with his family towards a new life in Canada. His family owned a zoo in India, and sure enough, all of them (including all the animals) are on a large ship headed across the expansive ocean. A storm turns it into a disaster, and Pi is on a lifeboat with his animal family. Let me leave you with that, as I’m sure you know where that quickly heads; because what makes this movie so good is how the visuals combine to tell a story that is more than its surface.

Life of Pi isn’t about the difference between man and beast, it isn’t about being lost at sea and it isn’t about taming a tiger. It is just about telling the story of your life. That can seem profound, but telling a story is about being entertaining, and using a medium such as film just means you have to make it visual. It’s beautiful, simple and it works.