Timeout - A stunning cinematic spectacle
by Sharmila Bhosale
No one would have thought
that the Life of Pi, written
by Man Booker prize
winner, Yann Martel, could ever be
translated onto celluloid.
Multiple award-winning director,
Ang Lee, has not only managed to
do that, but has gone beyond to
create cinematic brilliance.
A visual feast from the opening frame till the very last shot, Life of Pi works at many levels.
At the story level, it recounts the tale of Piscene Patel, Pi, who lives in Pondicherry with his parents and elder brother, where his father owns a zoo.
Deciding to relocate to Canada, Pi’s father sells off his zoo, and with the remaining few animals, which he intends to sell in Canada, the family boards a freighter ship.
In the dead of night, a fierce storm sinks the ship, and with it, the entire family. Pi, who has gone up to the deck to view it, is flung out into the sea on a lifeboat. But so have a few animals from his zoo – a zebra, hyena, an orangutan, and a man-eating tiger.
The primal basic need, hunger, makes the zebra, hyena and orangatun finish each other off and Pi is left alone at sea, literally, with the only other survivor, Richard Parker, aka, the man-eater. What follows is an edge-of-theseat, yet sublime and subliminal saga of how Pi, with his wits, wisdom and will survives with the tiger for several days, through the ravages of hunger, the assaults of helplessness and the rages of the storms. Though the turbulence of his thoughts and the despairing loneliness engulf him, all that keeps Pi anchored to life is his unshakeable, deep and touching faith in God.
At every moment of crisis, he surrenders himself to the One above, and looks for signs that God wants him to go on. Not once does his trust waver.
The metaphors of this story are deftly woven in amidst a stunning backdrop that can only be called surreal, so well has Ang Lee captured the sea and sun and their infinite shades. Faith, compassion and complete surrender overcome fear, surmount odds and reach out to the most enduring and deepest part of ourselves: common even among humans and animals.
With a musical score that paints each scene with a texture of moods and meaning, an ensemble of excellent actors, especially the 16-year-old debutant Suraj Sharma, who delivered a remarkably mature and well-etched performance, Life of Pi is not just a movie. It is a visual treat and a spiritually moving experience. Watch it on 3D to enhance the experience if you can.
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