I watched “Life of Pi” the other day which is the film about the young Indian boy trapped on a life boat with a tiger. It’s a pretty good film and both my wife and I concluded that it was a little bit better piece of cinematic entertainment than “Argo” (which won Best Picture for 2012).
“Life of Pi” has nothing to do with Peru, nevertheless I associate the book with Peru. I bought a copy of it at the Denver airport on the recommendation of my uncle and read it on the plane down there. Later, I gave my copy of the book to a friend of mine from Germany (along with this book, which I got from a free review service I was doing at the time–I see it’s been languishing on Amazon in the interceding years).
“Pi,” I believe, won the Booker award, but I don’t think it’s really all that memorable a book. When I saw they were making a film of it, I thought to myself “oh that book”–recognition but not burning excitement. The premise of making a movie of it is the same as the premise of writing the book in the first place. How do you make it interesting when the main source of your narrative is just a kid in the middle of the ocean?
Well, Ang Lee uses the empty canvas as an excuse to go hog wild with his own creative visual effects. The result is a very beautiful film. For most of it, my 2.5 year old daughter was captivated, she especially liked all the animals.
Essentially, though, “Life of Pi” is one of those books that’s been edited down to a nub. There’s nothing the least bit controversial in it, and there are really only a couple clever stories that get your attention. The only story I remembered ten years later was the one about how Pi trained the tiger by blowing a whistle and turning the boat into the waves to make the animal sea sick. The film had another clever story about how Pi got his name, but I didn’t remember that from reading the book.
There are some religious overtones to the book, and the theme seems to be that a pretty story is better than a harsh reality. I do remember not being satisfied with the final line of the book (which I believe is given in the film prior to the ending), but now it makes a bit more sense–although I still don’t agree with the sentiment.
In the end, I think it’s a decent film, but not one you’d want to watch multiple times. It lacks the heart of something truly noteworthy. Still, it won the guy a Booker award–but you won’t catch me writing a book like that.
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