Despite everything in the media and the fact that its an adaptation of a famous novel I headed into Life Of Pi with little fore-knowledge of what I was about to watch – beyond the fact it featured a boy, a boat and a Bengal tiger – and I am very glad I had few expectations going in.
What I got from the film was a story that was, at once, epic yet personal and really delved into the heart of humanity in a way I’ve not seen in a major motion picture in a long time, if ever, while also being visually stunning and having all the excitement of any big movie.
The main thing that struck me, and frankly effected me quite deeply, about Life Of Pi was its story and the issues it raises.
Life of Pi follows the life of a boy from French-India on an extraordinary journey from his home in India to Canada following the closure of his family’s zoo.
In his young life in India, Pi explores various religions, starting with Hinduism before moving onto Catholicism and Islam. This sets up a theme for the film that I think is one of its most integral messages; that faith is something to be explored and discovered and that all faith is a very personal thing – there’s a whole essay to be written on this subject and its representation in the film to be honest, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
What also happens as the film moves on that struck me, particularly in the medium of the major ‘family film’, is the exploration of true animalism.
For a majority of the movie Pi is adrift in a lifeboat with some of the zoo’s animals and we see a real animalistic side of them which, while shot in a stunningly un-bloody way, still gets across the danger of these beasts which is certainly against the image usually presented in family films.
As the film progresses we, along with Pi, are left to make a choice and here another theme arises to do with the nature of storytelling, but to say too much about this would only lead to spoilers, but really was an interesting twist.
Visually the film is absolutely stunning and, along with Dredd, are the only films I’ve thought might be worth seeing in 3D.
Through a mix of real and computer generated effects we get a very real sense of the fear and danger of being trapped with a Bengal tiger but we also get to experience the wonder of flying fish, dolphins and a blue whale.
Really though, despite the films amazing visuals, it was the story and the experience of Pi and the message he transmits that really got to me and made this film what it is as it explores elemental facets of human nature combined with issues of faith and reason in a way usually absent from the mainstream.
Now I just feel like I need to find my own Richard Parker…