I remember slam books from my school years. Brightly colored, artistically carved into the shape of a heart or an animated character. Although different from one another in colour and contour, they always had a recurring question. “If you were stranded on an island, who would you want with you?”
I wonder if any kid ever scribbled ‘tiger’ in the space provided.
Fernfly gifted me Yann Martel’s bestseller Life of Pi in 2004. Reading it was a study in faith. Back then, I wasn’t affirmative whether we needed zoos in our world. All that Martel needed was a paragraph to shake my beliefs, consider this extract:
But I don’t insist. I don’t mean to defend zoos. Close them all down if you want (and let us hope that what wildlife remains can survive in what is left of the natural world). I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.Yann Martel, Life of Pi
I was sold.
Ever since its movie adaptation was announced, I was skeptical if such a tale could be put on celluloid. Director Ang Lee brilliantly brings to screen this powerful story of hope in sheer cinematic excellence, a visual delight in every frame!
A lyrical odyssey of an angry ocean, The Life of Pi visits a familiar set piece; lead character marooned in open waters – Cast Away, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s travels among others albeit with an imagery never seen before and a story webbed with mysticism. Stranded in a boat, a boy and a tiger not only have to define their spaces but co-exist.
In a politically unstable India of 1970s, Pi Patel’s zoo keeper family decides to migrate to Canada. However as fate would have it, the ship bows down to the mighty waters of Pacific ocean and when the surf settles, only a 26-foot lifeboat and five survivors are left in its wake. Pi himself, an injured zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (on the name of its captor). The dynamics of the predator prey relation comes to picture in the survivor story that spans 227 grueling days. But wait, it’s not the story where David beats Goliath.
Unlike run-of-the-mill Hollywood productions that deploy 3D vaguely, Life of Pi uses technology to bring forth the story and not to subdue it. So there are scenes where in you taste the saline waters, feel the thundering lights and above all the majestic presence of the big cat. The sequence featuring floating island of meerkats in particular is as visually stunning as anything I have ever seen.
This dog gives the movie a 4/5 rating with the only regret being omission of some critical consequences of the novel like the temporary blinding of Pi and the chance encounter with another survivor (who met a tragic end facing Richard Parker’s wrath).
The bottom line, watch it while the academy rolls the red carpet for Ang Lee.