Life of Pi: The film

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Director Ang Lee
Director Ang Lee
Author Yann Martel
Author Yann Martel

LIfe of Pi: The Novel

What did you think of the film?

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When I heard that Ang Lee was pegged with the task of adapting Yann Martel’s brilliant novel Life of Pi into film, I was skeptical. After all, Lee is the same director whom butchered Annie Proulx’s dysfunctional and abusive homosexual love story, Brokeback Mountain, by turning it into a poignant romantic tragedy starring two of Hollywood’s hunkiest dudes. I was also pleased that M. Night Shyamalan turned down the offer. After all, Life of Pi didn’t need a twist ending. It needed to be told as true to form as Martel wrote it.

For the most part, Lee, and screenwriter David Magee, succeeded, though I do have two complaints. My main complaint is the love story that was added which did not exist in the book. The thread of this romance comes and goes in a matter of minutes really adds nothing to the film. Also, the book dedicates many pages to exploring Pi’s faith. Pi grew up Hindu but ended up “finding God” also through both Islam and Christianity. While this is mentioned in the film, it is not a thread followed to the extent that it is in the book.

Aside from this, the film was brilliant and Lee showed great restraint and skill in keeping the film at a PG rating. With many opportunities for gratuitous animal on animal violence, Lee, in true Hitchcockian form, leaves it up to the actors and the imagination. Lee also discovers a gem in Suraj Sharma in the lead role of Piscine Molitor Patel, AKA, Pi.

Pi grew up in Pondicherry, India, a French province of India. His family owned a zoo and, after his father decides to sell the zoo and leave India for Winnipeg, Pi, family (mom, dad and older brother Ravi) and animals set sail aboard the Japanese cargo ship the Tsimtsum for the journey to Canada. After a fierce storm, the ship sinks, leaving only Pi, a hyena, an orangutan named Orange Juice and a tiger named Richard Parker, as the only survivors; adrift aboard a life raft in the immense Pacific Ocean. Before long, only Pi and Richard Parker remain, forming a bond which only survival can create. Adventures with sharks, with flying fish, and even with a carnivorous island, make for a fantastic journey which you will have you feeling every emotion Pi and his companion feel.

But the story isn’t about a shipwreck. This is not some mindless adventure story. If it was, they would have surely pegged Michael Bay to direct the film and seen how many explosions they could put in the middle of the ocean. No. This film is about hope, it’s about all the cliches of man versus nature, it’s about the strength of the human will, but, more than that, it’s about faith.

The book, which promises to make you believe in God, translates well to the silver screen. It was visually stunning, and sonically astounding. This is one film where 3D actually made sense and added to the film. Lee made the correct decision to create an expressionistic film which adequately captures Pi’s thoughts and feelings. The empathy and bond Lee created with Pi, Parker and the audience was real and I felt many times as if I were on that tiny life boat with Pi and the tiger Richard Parker. I felt Pi’s anguish at losing his entire family and I felt the triumphs in his many little victories at sea.

In a rare case of filmmaking, the film stands up well to the book, but, will also appeal to those whom have not read it. While it’s not a perfect translation, it would be hard to find a better one.

8.7 stars/10

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A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)IS A POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHY AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION, DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND THROUGH YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

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HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, SCHNOODLE, SAUVEE AND BLACK MOOR GOLDFISH, HOWARD WOLOWITZ.

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Comments 16 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 2 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Perspycacious... I hope you do... but read the book first.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

This great review makes me want to see the film at some point soon. Nicely done.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 2 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Hey deb. thanks for commenting. We will have to agree to disagree in the love story. It was totally gratuitous an unnecessary... Especially when there was a wealth of other scenes they could have included.


Deb Welch 3 years ago

I did not read the book but saw the movie in the theatre and at home. I loved it. The romance was very important and it worked in well with the story even if it wasn't in the book. When Richard Parker and Pi looked over the edge of the boat in twilight and Pi asks the tiger what he is seeing - then Pi looks into the water and sees his love's face at the very last. At the end of the movie - you realize he did marry her and have children. What a touching movie - so real - I believe at the very end when the Richard Parker went into the jungle and did not look back at Pi - he knew their relationship was over and if he looked back the emotional pain would have been far greater. Thanks.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks TimeTraveler. it was great and lived up to the book really well. Did you read the book also?


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

This movie was a true fantasy, and the visuals were fabulous. My husband and I both loved it. Thanks for this one. Voted up.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Avain. Let me know how you like it!


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

LIsa, that's always a problem when a movie is overhyped. I try not to read reviews, which is sort of ironic, I suppose...


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Jamie,

let me know how you like the movie. How' your story turn out? Are you going to submit it somewhere?


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PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Suzette, it's certainly a difficult book to translate and it was done well. I just can't get totally over that silly love story though...


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, Cris. I appreciate your comment. Nice to see you!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Very good review. I have heard about this film, and now I would definitely like to see it.


lisa42 profile image

lisa42 3 years ago from Sacramento

I enjoyed this movie, but I had heard so much hype before I saw it that I don't think it lived up to my expectations. Perhaps I should read the book.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

The book "Life of Pi" was one of the most memorable reads on my list of memorable reads. I love it. I have not had a chance to see the movie yet, maybe a fear of not living up to such a great book. But after your hub I will try. Hey, I tried my hand at horror fiction recently, it was an interesting journey. Jamie


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I have read the novel and seen the film and I loved both. I thought the film adaption of the book was so good, too. That is a difficult book to adapt to film, but Lee did it best and I can't imagine anyone doing it any better. I agree, the little love story was gratuitous and silly in my opinion.

This fantastic voyage is one of hope and faith as you say and I would recommend the book and film to anyone. I enjoyed reading this and this is a great review of the movie.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Great interesting review!

My daughter has read this book and was encouraging me to read it as well, which I'm yet to do. However, I've seen the film while at 37K feet. At first,I thought it's boring because almost the entire scene was shot in the water but you are right...the movie is about hope, finding strength and most importantly keeping one's faith no matter what the circumstances are. There's definitely a lesson to be learned from here.

Both Yann Martel and Ang Lee are brilliant! Enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

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    Justin W. Price (PDXKaraokeGuy)742 Followers
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    Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award- nominated author based out of Portland, Oregon.



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