Entertainment Magazine

Sea Cruise

Posted on the 13 November 2013 by Sjhoneywell
Film: Life of Pi
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on laptop. Sea Cruise

I like Ang Lee’s films. There’s even a part of me that sort of appreciates what he tried to do with Hulk. I mean, yes, it failed completely, but I get what he was going for, I think. Life of Pi is one that I’ve been looking forward to for some time. I’m not sure I was as prepared for the spiritual questions it would bring up in the course of the film. What I wanted was visual spectacle. I got that, but Life of Pi is a special enough film that I got more than that as well. When the religious content of the film, the abruptly and plainly stated “make me believe in God” said by one character to another happened, I figured I knew the ending, and determined that much of my overall opinion of the film might well be determined by how that line played out.

What we get is a story told in the present day about the past, meaning that we frequently will get flashes of the current world while we tend to spend most of our time dealing with the story being told. It is told by Piscene Molitor Patel (played in the modern world by Irrfan Khan and primarily in the story by Suraj Sharma). Piscene spends much of his early life with the unfortunate nickname of “Pissing Patel” until he consciously forces himself to memorize hundreds of digits of pi, and rechristens himself Pi. We learn about his swimming lessons from his father’s friend Mamaji and the family’s occupation of running a zoo. We also learn of his spiritual life. Raised a Hindu by his mother, he also adopts both Christianity and Islam, much to his rationalist father’s chagrin. All of this is being told to a writer (Rafe Spall) who encountered Mamaji, who told him to go to Canada and look up Pi.

Anyway, when Pi is a young man, his father decides to move the family and the zoo to Canada. On the ship voyage, the ship sinks in a terrible storm. Pi, now without his family, finds himself on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, and a hyena. The hyena kills the other two animals, and when Pi gets to the point of having to deal with things, he discovers that he also shares the lifeboat with Richard Parker, an adult Bengal tiger that kills the hyena.

The rest of the film is, more or less, Pi and Richard Parker learning to live with each other’s presence and survive in the ocean as they drift across the Pacific. This involves a great deal of fantasy including an island that appears to be itself a dangerous living thing. It’s not meant to be anything other than a sort of modern-day myth. It’s not really meant to be taken literally.

More to come very soon.

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