Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ is an incredible story. Fantastical and a commentary on life, the meaning of existence, etc etc. Ingredients for a runaway hit. Ang Lee’s film does it tremendous justice, but in a very different way from merely retelling the narrative. It is certainly the first 3D film I have seen that actually justified the use of this technology.
When I read the book, I thought for days about many abstract and existential aspects of life. I wondered about whether man was less or more selfish than animals. I wondered about our need to believe in something greater than ourselves. I wondered about faith and doubt and the wonderful inter-relation of these two disparate points of view. I mused about my childhood years and being conflicted between the strong influence of two ultra-religious grandmothers and my atheist father and how I have set this question of faith aside, for the most part. Some day, it will come and loom large in front of me and shall have to decide to let my life move ahead. But for now, it doesn’t bother me too much.
The movie was whole other experience from the book. I disagree with those who say the movie is a faithful imitation of the book; it wasn’t for me and it never is; how can it be, the mediums are so so different, one relying on each individual’s power of visualization and the other visualizing it and merely opening the visuals for interpretation?
But it was good. So good. I loved the way the 3D brought alive the zoo. And the technology that could create the sheer magnificence of Richard Parker! I loved the ethereal quality of the scenes out at sea and the sheer glory of nature. I want Udai to see it, for it brought back to me memories of how wondrous the world appeared as a child. How intriguing the world is, and yet how we accepted the vagaries of our lives as perfectly normal. I wasn’t touched as much as I thought I would be with Pi’s tremendous loneliness and his faith, but it’s hard to achieve everything when all you have to work with is a landscape, one human, a boat and a computer-generated animal! Suraj Sharma’s effort is commendable though and he is beautiful in the film. Certainly, he brings a freshness to the film that a known face simply could not have done.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching the film. Its beauty and effects mesmerized me. But I have not brought the film back with me in my head the way I carried the book around. I will re-read the book though…and that’s something!