Monday, 7 January 2013

Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decide to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.

The film is based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, and it is difficult to think of a book which will be harder to transfer to the big screen. Life of Pi is so multi-faceted, so multi-layered, that it is just the question of how much is lost in translation rather than how to transfer everything accurately. And the real achievement of the filmmakers is that they managed not only to keep the atmosphere, the storyline and the main idea intact, but they actually enhanced the experience considerably.

The way the story is told is a living classic. All the layers of the book are kept intact; all the questions are raised; some of the questions even get the answers – but the movie experience continues long after the film as the episodes and the questions are re-visited, answers are found and new questions arise. A kid, few animals and more than 200 days at the sea – that could have easily become the most boring movie in the living memory, but it didn’t. It is inspirational, philosophical, life-reassuring movie, which grabs the attention and never lets it disappear.

As if this was not enough to call the film great, Ang Lee, the director, made it totally awesome by absolutely stunning visuals. You can get the flavor of the special effects in the trailer, but they are even better in the actual movie. This is probably the second movie after Hugo which is actually enhanced by 3D, and it also have great chances to become the first 3D movie to win the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The picture is mesmerizing, it looks beautiful and totally in line with the overall atmosphere. It looks realistic, but nevertheless jaw-dropping, and this is a true wonder.

It is a thought-provoking movie. It feels like an onion: you peel one layer away to find more layers within. It is not only about God – it is about all religions taken together. Search for God takes the central place in the story – but this can be a metaphor for a search for anything. It is the story about the Journey that every person experiences – but it asserts strongly that the Path of every single individual is the Goal in itself. Hope and Despair take the central role - as do the questions of how low an individual can fall. It is about how we find new people in our lives – and how we lose them. It is about animals in the open sea – and about people in the crowded cities too.

One of the best movies of 2012, Oscar favourite. Everyone will find their own meaning to the film, but one thing is certain – this movie will not leave you indifferent.

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