Life of Pi is a visually stunning and riveting movie, based on the book by Yann Martel. Director Ang Lee has done what I thought might be impossible: taken a moving, inspiring novel and translated it into an amazing film.
Life of Pi is the story of a young man, Pi Patel. He was raised in India, the son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry. When the political climate changes, Pi’s father decides to give up the zoo, sell the animals, and move the family to Canada. Most of the zoo animals are destined for homes in zoos in North America. The family and the animals travel aboard a Japanese freighter bound for Canada. The ship sinks in a storm in the Pacific, and the only survivors are Pi, the zebra, the orangutan, the hyena and “Richard Parker”, the zoo’s Bengal tiger. Adrift on a life boat, three of the animals die, leaving only Pi and Richard Parker.
Pi makes a raft for himself so he does not have to share the lifeboat with the starving tiger. Surviving initially on biscuits and tinned water from the lifeboat, Pi learns to catch fish and provide a meager existence for himself and the tiger. It is not a spoiler to write that Pi survives his ordeal, since the movie opens with the adult Pi telling his story to a novelist. After nine months on the raft, a starving Pi and Richard Parker land on a beach in Mexico. There, Richard Parker disappears into the jungle, while Pi is rescued by locals. Pi eventually becomes a university professor in Canada.
Novice actor Suraj Sharma has the task of carrying this entire movie. His accomplishment is outstanding and noteworthy. Director Ang Lee, cinematographer Claudio Miranda and the entire art direction team have produced one of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time. We saw it in 3-D, and I would recommend that if you see this film, you pay the extra for 3-D.
I see lots of Oscar nominations for Life of Pi, including an adapted screenplay nod for writer David Magee. I was so skeptical that Life of Pi would translate to the big screen, but this crew has done it. When I’m wrong, I’m the first to admit it!