Friday, November 30, 2012


Ang Lee delivers a gracefully realized, visually gorgeous, and emotionally powerful film with the aid of technology

Name: Life of Pi
Language: English
Director: Ang Lee
Year of Release: 2012

'Life of Pi' is the latest addition to that tiny directory of movie adaptations which posses integrity to the original. Based on Yann Martel's booker prize winning novel of the same name, that had an 'unfilmable' label throughout, the exact significance of Ang Lee's adaptation is realized only in the retrospect of the recent box office release Cloud Atlas ( which was also considered as unfilmable ) which had stale response from critics & viewers. Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' is a paradigm for future adaptations of 'unfilmable' books on how a smart and audacious director will make use of the technology to explore the artistic horizons & how to redefine the boundaries of technology to serve movie arts. (Click Here to Read my review on the book 'Life of Pi')

The films opens where a writer visiting a 40 year old man named Pi in Montreal, with an aim to know about Pi's past that might make a book.Pi go back to his early days in Pondicherry with his family and the zoo his father owned. Early lessons he learned from his parents, his teenage love, his acquaintance with clerics of various religion. Due to political strife, his family was forced to migrate to Canada with all the animals. The ship wrecks and Pi is left at the middle of Pacific in a life boat with a Bengal tiger  named Richard Parker as his sole companionship. With everything lost, the rest of the movie is about the 227 day long adventurous as well as the theological journey of the 17 year old castaway.

Slicing the best units from the novel, as squeezing to the most with the aid of his own visions, visual effects & the live script of David Magee, Ang Lee delivers a gracefully realized, visually gorgeous, and emotionally powerful film. It's a castaway movie so the characterization is crucial and even though bit meandering here and there, Magee penned Pi with astounding depth and strength that injects emotions to the hearts of the audience. But the real hero of the movie is the emotive CGI animals.No matter it is -the agonized zebra, mothering orangutan, wicked hyena or the island of mirkats - everything is done absolute perfection and versatility. But the real star of the show is the majestic Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Created with the help of CGI and four real Bengal tigers which are imperceptible most of the time, Richard Parker is a perfect amalgam of a lovable house pet and fearsome beastly impulse which is frightening at moments. No wonder if you fall in love with cat at the end !

As said earlier, Yann Martel novel was a brilliant work that filled with motives and symbols to convey his philosophical interpretations. Still it effortlessly manages to gratify readers of all genres. Evidently, the biggest challenge before Ang Lee was to make something without losing its essence at the same time cater a mass audience. He was not interested in making a hive of motifs as Alejandro Jodorowsky 'The Holy Mountain' or a technical mediocre as Michael Bay's 'Transformers'. There Ang Lee made use of 3D. When his visions embraced technology, he ended up with something epically elegant.I have seen films with better CGI and 3D but this is the first time I see effects with a soul & life.He turned each scene to a wonderful palette. In most of the movies, visual effects are jammed in to maximize its commercial values but here its inevitable and he took them to a higher level of visual artistry that is poetically aesthetic.
'Life of Pi' would have never happen without Suraj Sharma. Being his debut, he did something implausible. He was totally compelling and engaging was Pi from head to toe. He is was capturing the screen throughout. The limited cast includes Irfan Khan as elder Pi,Tabu as mother, Adil Hussain as father & Rafe Spall as the writer. All of them did promising performance on the limited space and time.

In spite of all, I believe the movie was not able to outride the book. The Pi on screen in sanitized version of the Pi on the page. The 227 days on sea made Yan Martel's Pi more bold and gruesome when we compare to Ang Lee's boy. Also the life of castaway is not so smooth as shown in the screen. There are some extremely disturbing moments in the novel where Pi breaks the boundaries of human instincts, which clearly haunt afterwards.I think Lee never wanted to give his audience an emotional havoc and wanted to make a movie which will appeal to all ages. Also the movie never ignites a chain of thoughts on Theist-Atheist ideologies as the novel. I also expected an elaborated show of  the second story of Pi which would have given the ravishing Tabu more exposure. Clearly Lee is clutched to theological virtues and I think he  never wanted to divert the audience from Richard Parker.

With any doubts I can say Ang Lee's adaptation soaked up the essence of the novel because as one leave the hall, he will be vacillating on the question  - 'Whether Pi & Richard Parker is the same or not ? ' - Ultimately that what the novel also does on a better scale & That denotes the triumph of Ang Lee !! 


  1. :) loved it brother! A good review indeed...

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