Life of Pi (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 11 awards, of which it won 4.
Nominated for Best Picture (Ang Lee, David Womark, Gil Netter), Best Adapted Screenplay (David Magee), Best Music, Song “Pi’s Lullaby” (Bombay Jayashri, Mychael Danna), Best Sound Editing (Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton), Best Sound Mixing (D. M. Hemphill, Drew Kunin, Ron Bartlett), Best Production Design (Anna Pinnock, David Gropman), and Best Film Editing (Tim Squyres).
Won Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Original Score (Mychael Danna), Best Cinematography (Claudio Miranda), and Best Visual Effects (Bill Westenhofer, Donald R. Elliott, Erik-Jan De Boer, Guillaume Rocheron).
Watched April 12, 2013.
Life of Pi is based off the award winning book by Yann Martel. I have loved the book for years and was ecstatic when I heard about the film, but when the movie actually came out, other lovers of the book told me that they were really disappointed in it, so I decided not to see it in theaters. Low and behold, I should NOT have listened to them! Opinions about the film vary, which is understandable, from both those who have read the book and those who have not. From my perspective, not only does the film follow the book incredibly well, but its execution stands up to Martel’s vision and I would love to watch it as often as I read the book… which is very often.
Life of Pi can be broken into three parts. Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) is living in Toronto when an author (Rafe Spall) comes to him in search of a story–a story that is said to make you believe in God. With a knowing smile, Pi begins at the beginning. He was raised in Pondicherry as a zookeeper’s son. The beginning is very family friendly–with silly humor including an overly buff and disproportionate swim instructor and Pi’s exploration of many religions. The beginning almost feels disconnected with the rest of the film, but it is also necessary in order to set up the rest of the story.
Encountering some difficulties, Pi’s family decides to move to Canada where they will sell the animals and begin a new life. Their Japanese ship never sees shore again because during a terrific storm, it sinks to the deepest part of the sea and Pi finds himself alone in the ocean, apart from the giant tiger Richard Parker. This is when the story picks up and things get good. Pi must find the strength to fight for his life, as it is being attacked from all angles. His faith is challenged, and because he spends over 270 days at sea, he is left with nothing but faith by the end.
Because Pi is telling his story to the author, we know the outcome, and for those who have not read the book, this is perhaps a let down. However, the book reads the same way and therefore Ang Lee, who directed, took no liberties in that regard. Although there are a few weak links in the production, as a whole, the entire cast performs very well, and one could argue that the three who carried the film were Ang Lee, Claudio Miranda (the cinematographer), and Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi for the majority of the film.
Ang Lee has directed many award winning films in his time. His wins with Life of Pi are well deserved. Miranda’s work is exquisite, and combined with the visual effects, the screen becomes candy to the eyes. When the heavens reflect so perfectly in the waters that it seems Pi and his raft are floating in midair, I wasn’t sure where to look because I wanted to look at everything at once. Richard Parker, the tiger, is 100% animated and there is very little within the film that indicates this. Sharma does a magnificent job acting and reacting to his tiger-less circumstances and I am pretty shocked the Academy gave him no recognition.
There is love, humor, sadness, and fear. The end delivers the best moment of the film by Sharma and although many reviewers dislike the conclusion, feeling as if it is a bit tacked on, I found it wrapped everything up nicely. It is a film that causes one to think rather than just something that entertains. Although I’m not sure if Pi’s story would cause one to believe in God, I really enjoyed it.
I would definitely recommend this film. Hands down, no arguments against it. It can be slow at times and the three parts of the film can feel a bit disjointed, but as a whole it is a beautiful film and one that I would love to own.