A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
In Canada, a writer visits the Indian storyteller Pi Patel and asks him to tell his life story. Pi tells the story of his childhood in Pondicherry, India, and the origin of his nickname. One day, his father, a zoo owner, explains that the municipality is no longer supporting the zoo and he has hence decided to move to Canada, where the animals the family owns would also be sold. They board on a Japanese cargo ship with the animals and out of the blue, there is a storm, followed by a shipwrecking. Pi survives in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a male Bengal tiger nicknamed Richard Parker. They are adrift in the Pacific Ocean, with aggressive hyena and Richard Parker getting hungry. Pi needs to find a way to survive.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Japanese cargo ship's name, Tsimtsum, is a Hebrew word used by 16th-century Kabbalist Isaac Luria to denote God's "contraction" of Himself from the world at Creation. In the novel, the adult Pi mentions doing a college thesis on Luria's theories about creation. In the movie, he mentions teaching a course on Kabbalah. See more »
Early in the movie, Pi says that Hinduism has 33 million Gods and Goddesses. In Indian English, the word 'crore', which means 10 million, is used rather than million. A fundamental belief in Hinduism is that there are 33 crore Gods and Goddesses. This converts to 330 million, not 33 million. (The use of million rather than crore may be a translation for the benefit of the audience, rather than a goof.) See more »
So, you were raised in a zoo?
Adult Pi Patel:
Born and raised. In Pondicherry, in what was the French part of India. My father owned the zoo, and I was delivered on short notice by a herpetologist, who was there to check on the Bengal monitor lizard. Mother and I were both healthy, but the poor lizard escaped and was trampled by a frightened cassowary. The way of karma, huh? The way of God.
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I read "Life of Pi" a couple of years ago while I was touring around Europe and I found it to be a mildly-entertaining book which touched lightly on the philosophical side. It was no surprise to me then, when I discovered Ang Lee's faithful film adaptation to be exactly that - mildly entertaining, touching lightly on the philosophical side.
I believe a lot of people came to watch this movie with many different expectations, from those who wanted to watch a realistic sea-survival movie, contrasted by those who believed it would offer something truly deep and significant philosophically. Both these camps will be disappointed. As Jonathan Romney says in the IOS review "Life of Pi is fatally scuppered by coy, bogus mysticism." Conversely, as you will read on the message boards here at IMDb (spoilers abound there, be forewarned!) a lot of people couldn't even handle the philosophy-lite that was on offer and were "disappointed" that it wasn't the straight- forward boy-lost-at-sea-with-a-tiger story it falsely claimed to be (*deep breath*). Hey everybody, this film will not change your life. It will provide you with some inoffensive entertainment for a couple of hours, and probably little more.
"Life of Pi" - whether in book-form or in this adaptation - is neither high art, nor gruelling adventure. What it actually is is a fantasy story, framed at the edges with a smidgeon of realism in an attempt to add a soupçon of depth and food-for-thought. Approach the film as such and you may well enjoy it.
As a heavily CGI-ed film it provides at times a stunning visual work. Again reviewers have been mixed, some claiming that the over-playing of visuals falls into the garish, and attempts to wash over the philosophical shallowness of the movie. Well, CGI is the trend today; it has some benefits, but the overall effect of digitally rendering your characters and sceneries is bound to leave something missing soul-wise. "Life of Pi" is pretty enough to look at, but personally I think much more could and would have been made of it if it was adapted as an (classic style) animation.
I'd mark the film as 6.5 (it made my partner cry), but I'm rounding down this time because of the sudden wave of sycophancy present on IMDb, meaning that every film that comes out has 8-point-something (corporate presence?). Either way, a pleasant break from Hollywood aggression, and worth a watch.
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