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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Life of Pi can be found here.
When a Canadian author (Rafe Spall) interviews Indian storyteller Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel (Irrfan Khan) for a proposed biography, Pi relates the story of how, at the age of 16, his zookeeper father Santosh (Adil Hussain) decided to move the family, along with their zoo animals, from Pondicherry, India to French Canada, and how their freighter, the Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum, sunk in the Pacific Ocean during a storm, forcing Pi (Suraj Sharma), the only survivor, to spend 227 days on a small lifeboat with a wounded zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a male Bengal tiger named 'Richard Parker', all fighting for survival.
Life of Pi is based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Spanish-born Canadian author Yann Martel. The book was adapted for the film by American screenwriter David Magee.
When Pi completes his extraordinary tale of survival to his would-be biographer, he relates another story...the one he told to the insurance adjusters when they came looking for answers. In the second story, the animals were replaced by a sailor with a broken leg, his mother Gita (Tabu), and the ship's resourceful but brutish cook (Gérard Depardieu). In this scenario, the cook kills the sailor to use him as bait and food, the cook kills his mother, and Pi himself kills the cook. The writer notes the similarities between the sailor/zebra, mother/orangutan, cook/hyena, and Pi/tiger. 'Which story do you prefer?' Pi asks. 'The one with the tiger,' the writer responds. 'That's the better story.' Pi replies, 'And so it goes with God.' While the writer reads the insurance report (and learns that the insurance adjusters also chose the story with the tiger), Pi's wife and two children come home, and Pi introduces them.
Both. Most of the shots were CGI effects, however there were four real life tigers that were used for some filming. In an interview with NPR, Suraj Sharma said that he was never in the boat with a real tiger and didn't even get close to one.
Life of Pi is characterized as a 'survival tale.' If you liked the shipwrecked aspect, you may enjoy All Is Lost (2013), Cast Away (2000), Waterworld (1995), Robinson Crusoe (1997), or The Black Stallion (1979). If you liked the relationship between the boy and his tiger, you may enjoy The Jungle Book (1994), of which there are several adaptions. If you liked the Indian culture, you may enjoy the equally critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire (2008) or any number of Bollywood movies. If you liked the portrayal of nature, you may enjoy the BBC TV Documentaries 'Planet Earth' (2006) or 'Life' (2009+). If you liked the showcasing of tigers and zoos, you may enjoy We Bought a Zoo (2011), Duma (2005), or Deux frères (Two Brothers) (2004). If you liked the spectacular visuals and the story telling, you may also enjoy The Fall (2006). If you liked the director's work, you may enjoy Ang Lee's previous works: Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000) or Brokeback Mountain (2005). If you liked the comparison and debate about real-life events versus possibly fictional and elaborate stories, you may enjoy Big Fish (2003). Some users also draw comparisons to The Tree of Life (2011) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Certainly, the use of wide, open spaces and fantastic visuals are present in both.
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