The APAHM Project Day 17: Life of Pi
Film: Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Where to watch: Available to rent or buy on all major platforms
Why it made the list:
Directed by Asian American Ang Lee and starring Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan, “Life of Pi” took home the most Academy Awards in 2013 with 4 wins out of 11 nominations. It won for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score.
I read this book back in high school for my 10th Grade English Class. I remember being excited to read something more modern, but like all assigned books, I eventually learned to resent it. I truly believe school sucked the fun out of reading for me, but I digress. I was probably thinking this book was really out there, a boy stranded on a boat with animals. But I went along with it and then get to the end and went “really?”
Basically, a boy named Pi, is leaving India with his family when their boat crashes. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with some of the animals from his family zoo: a zebra, hyena, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The hyena kills the orangutan and hyena and then Richard Parker kills the hyena. Pi and Richard Parker must learn to co-exist on the boat in order to survive. Once they reach shore and people as Pi what happened on the boat, they find his story with the animals hard to believe. But as he tells a different version, probably the true version, they find it too grotesque. The animals were really people all along: a cook, a passenger, Pi’s mother, and Pi as Richard Parker. The cook is the hyena who displayed cannibalism by eating the passenger and also kills Pi‘s mother. In turn, Pi kills the cook and eats him and uses him for fish bait.
The major theme with this film is that of faith and religion. In the beginning, Pi is seen to be raised as a Hindu. He believes in several gods and is a vegetarian. He then discovers Christianity and Islam and adopts them as well. He claims he just wants to love God but his family points out that him not devoting to one religion, cancels out the others. Pi needed an immense amount of faith to make it through the Pacific Ocean for over 200 days. It is what he needed to survive. Additionally, Pi is a great story-teller, which is a method to spread teachings in different religions.
Lastly, this film is visually stunning and the music was enjoyable as well. I can see why it was praised for its visual effects but the cinematography was so well done. Every scene looked beautiful and colorful, and some even calming and serene despite the circumstance Pi is in.
Does it deserve to stay on the list?
I think everyone involved with this film did a great job in bringing the book to life. Ang Lee is one of the most prominent Asian directors of our time, and he did a great job with “Life of Pi.” Furthermore, it was great to see a movie about an Indian boy who shows such cleverness, bravery, and faith. Suraj, who was relatively new to acting at the time, did an excellent job considering he was working with mostly CGI animals. It was refreshing to see a Western Indian movie that didn’t star Dev Patel as well.