Film review: “Life of Pi”


Allison Hinze, Entertainment Editor

Envision yourself in the middle of the ocean in a lifeboat, completely alone, surrounded by water and your own fear. Now throw in a Bengal tiger.

Life of Pi began its journey to the big screen as a novel written by Yann Martel. I remember reading the book sometime back in junior high, and becoming engulfed with the plot of the story. It was a thrilling read for 12 year old me, so when I found out that it was becoming a film, I jumped at the chance to see it.

Personally, movies are never as good as the books. Perhaps its because I create my own movie in my head while I read, and anything I see in film doesn’t meet my standards. However, this film was different. The novel was deemed unfilmable by critics and media sources everywhere. But a decade after it’s publishing, film producer Ang Lee completed the impossible.

If I could describe the film in one word, breathtaking would fit it perfectly. Not only was Lee able to recreate the Pi’s life in India, the passage to Canada with the family zoo, and the scenes on the ocean and the island, but also he was able to capture it all with splendid beauty. Watching the movie made me feel like I had walked into a world of my imagination, with vibrant colors and animated characters, animal and human alike. While I recognize that they did not actually place a young actor and a tiger in a lifeboat together, it was difficult to tell that the tiger was artificially created.

The movie follows the novel fairly well, highlighting the main points throughout. Pi tells his story as an adult and narrates the movie, as the scenes transition to cover main events as well as other minor details. Not only is Pi’s adventure one of survival, but also self-discovery. Throughout the film, you will bite your lip and watch as Pi goes about the daily tasks of staying alive, and feeding and even training the tiger on board with him that he has named Richard Parker. He begins a journal and chalks down every day he has been out at sea. He admits as he narrates that at this point in his young life, he found God. What’s even better is listening to him narrate in a thick Indian accent. I felt like he was actually talking to me.

With these kinds of movies, my advice to anyone before watching is always read the book first. It’s just a rite of passage. You can’t treat yourself to the movie unless you have a full understanding of what is going on.

If you have 120 minutes to spare, I suggest Life of Pi for all ages. It’s a cultural experience you’re sure to enjoy.