An Indian man recounts his extraordinary
tale of shipwreck survival to a writer.
Life of Pi (2012)
Directed by Ang Lee
Written by David Magee
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall,
Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gérard Depardieu
Based on the novel by Yann Martel
Oscar Wins - Best Director, Best Cinematography,
Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score (Mychael Danna)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay,
Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing,
Best Production Design, Best Original Song (Pi's Lullaby)
Ang Lee has a very interesting track record. From Crouching Tiger to Hulk to Brokeback Mountain to Life of Pi, he's a filmmaker who brings a gravitas and a signature style to anything he touches. And I love that he doesn't pigeonhole himself. He goes where the story is. Life of Pi is a breathtaking visual feast and a highly engaging story. It's the film that won Lee his second directing Oscar, and it was well-deserved. This is a film about human endurance, the power of friendship, and the strength of faith.
The story of young Pi Patel (Sharma) is told by his older, adult self (Khan) to a writer in search of something worth telling (Spall). As a young man, Pi was in a massive shipwreck on the way to Canada, and was the sole survivor, losing his entire family in the process. He ends up in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger his family had affectionately named Richard Parker, and together the two must survive the isolation and desolation of the ocean. The film's biggest strength is the CGI. The visual effects are stunning, from the environments to the animals themselves. Both Sharma and Khan both do a phenomenal job as Pi during two very different stages of his life.
The ending of Life of Pi lets you make your own decision about what really happened to Pi while he was in that boat. Was his story with the tiger and the floating island true? Or was it a fantasy Pi created to cope with the far more devastating truth? I think the ambiguity works, because it creates opportunity for discussion. The film is a work of art and a pleasant viewing experience.