Quantcast

‘LIFE OF PI’

Ang Lee’s breathtaking parable kicks off Oscar race

By |

“LIFE OF PI.” A film of astonishing beauty.

“Faith is a palace with many rooms,” declares Pi Patel, the protagonist of Ang Lee’s compelling big-screen parable, “Life of Pi” (showing on Wednesday, Jan. 9), as he explains his multifaceted religious persuasions: Patel’s belief in Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam go beyond mere fascination, and grew even stronger after surviving a shipwreck that took the lives of his whole family and set him adrift at sea—for 227 days!

Patel’s ordeal happened when he was only 16 years old (he’s played as a teen by the terrific Suraj Sharma), after his father decided to sell the family zoo in Pondichery, India, and migrate to Canada.

When the North America-bound freighter carrying Pi and his loved ones sinks during a storm, the precocious teenager suddenly finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat.

Unfortunately, while his survival skills are impeccable, he has a difficult time getting along with his four “companions”—an injured zebra, a famished spotted hyena, a depressed orangutan, and a cantankerous Bengal tiger named Richard Parker!

Food chain

It doesn’t take long for Mr. Parker to demonstrate who’s on top of the food chain—but, is Pi smart enough to convince his 450-pound co-survivor that he is more useful alive than as a food source?

Lee’s latest cinematic triumph is a film of astonishing beauty. It’s a breathtaking visual spectacle that’s as entertaining as it is thematically significant. At first blush, the story of a dauntless Indian teenager embarking on a perilous journey with a tiger sounds more whimsical than realistic—but, the way the production tells its tale is what sets it apart from this season’s other films.

Swathed in gleaming colors, the movie is an allegory for survival and the triumph of the human spirit—and kicks off the Academy Awards race. (Scheduled to be shown on Jan. 11 is Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” followed by “Les Miserables,” on Jan. 16.)

The director makes the viewing experience more “relatable” by deciding not to “Disney-fy” or romanticize his film’s premise—as a terrifying scene involving Pi, his father, Richard Parker and a poor baby goat demonstrates early on.

Differences

Alas, Pi Patel isn’t Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli, and Richard Parker is no Shere Khan! Just the same, that’s no reason for them—and mankind, in general—not to tolerate each other’s differences and learn to coexist in harmony.

The movie is anchored on real emotions, intelligently and intuitively conveyed by Sharma and the other actors who portray Pi at different ages. Sharma and company invest their roles with subtle shades of humor that help leaven Pi’s core as a curious and impressionable protagonist.

This is the film to see in digital 3D—its Oscar-worthy look will remind you of Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams” and the Robin Williams starrer, “What Dreams May Come.” Moreover, the sparkling images conjured up by Lee’s “magic wand” don’t draw attention away from the story and, in fact, help deepen the relevance of its metaphysical musings.

This is evinced by Pi’s encounter with a playful whale in the bioluminescent sea at night, and his adventure on a floating island of lush forests, edible plants, huggable meerkats—and carnivorous algae!


Follow Us






Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

  • Iggy Ramirez

    The dramatic landscapes, or more appropriately, seascapes, especially at night, under the sea at night with luminescent jellyfish, and when there is no wind in the panoramic view of the endless sea are breathtaking. But that is all there is to it. The bengal tiger acts like a dog and its CGI is not as impressive as there are conspicuous hints of failure to adhere to how real creatures move or how their body morph to a certain musculo-skeletal structure when they move. Also, the size of the tiger is hardly the same size as the real bengal tigers. It’s more like a Siberian tiger.

    Acting is also not as good as what everyone is made to believe. Maybe because the actors have difficulty acting out mediocre script. If the actors spoke in hindi, they would have been able to bring out their real emotions. But they spoke in English, which somehow presented an obstacle because the actors were not very much accustomed to it.

    The lines are mediocre at best. At times they are irritating, and at times they make you cringe.

    Sure, this will be a big hit to the children with its plethora of animals, but considering this for the Oscars in any of the categories is a gross overstatement.

    • julymorning

       IF UR TOO HARD ON URSELF, DON’T PASS IT ON TO OTHER PEOPLE. THE FILM IS GREAT NOT BECAUSE IT’S HEADED FOR THE OSCARS, BUT JUST AS IT IS, PERIOD! WHO CARES IF IT’S NOT DESERVING AN OSCAR? NOT ALL OSCAR MOVIE WINNERS ARE THAT GOOD ANYWAY.

      THE YOUNG PI’S QUEST FOR FAITH AND HIS GOD, WHICH IS WANTING ON HIS FAMILY AND IN OUR SOCIETY, IS MORE THAN ENOUGH TO MAKE ME APPRECIATE THE MOVIE, SANS ANY AWARD. AM PRETTY SURE ANG LEE WILL BE GIVEN A CELESTIAL AWARD IN THE AFTER LIFE.

      • Iggy Ramirez

        Excuse me? Did I pass anything to other people? I just said my opinion about the film. It’s called freedom of expression. If you did not like what I said about the film, you can go and fùck yourself. You motherfùcking ąssfùck.

        Not all oscar winners are good anyway? Who the fùck do you think you are? I have high respect for the oscars and I fully agree every time with what they come up with. The only time I got disappointed with the result was when Anette Bening did not win the best actress in her portrayal in American Beauty. Although I must admit that Hilary Swank deserves the nod in her role in Boys Don’t Cry. 

        Life of Pi has a moving story but in order for me to truly appreciate a movie, it has to satisfy my expectations. I paid to watch the movie and I have every right to say what I think about it. That goes without saying that this is a free country and this country guarantees freedom of expression.

        If you don’t like it, you can move to China and fùck yourself.

        Write your own review you stupid shīt and leave mine alone.

      • peach black

        your point is lost in translation – drowned by your exaggerated self-loathing not to mention self-worth. kung tinanggal mo na lang kabalahuraan ng bibig mo naintindihan pa kita hendut ka! he he he

      • bennysanmiguel

        Such a foul mouthed person. No need to use swear words, it just shows your level of mentality.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HGC2U2QUAREAK42HNUTSNQGBVI SolitaJ

         I guess mouthing expletives is also part of your interpretation of freedom of expression.

      • Iggy Ramirez

        You guessed right.

      • http://twitter.com/thunderkel Thunder Kel

        eat your words. the film is nominated for oscars!

      • Iggy Ramirez

        Anybody can nominate anything. Oscars is really just about the matter of winning.

        In case you did not know, there are shady deals going on in the nomination. And unless it won, you won’t have me believe that it truly deserves it.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DU5GH5NS3O7DOI54MNUPTTHVY4 B88C

      Iggy, it’s like you are looking at an impressionist painting, one foot away from it. Try stepping back three meters away from it. You might see the blended beauty of it.

      • Iggy Ramirez

        Please… don’t tell me that I should like the film because you liked it. I saw the film and I did appreciate the story but it fell short on technical merits, which for me were a biggest let down.

        Why is it that when other people say something other than what you like, you tend to think that they are stupid and that you are the ultimate judge of what is good and beautiful? 

        This is a free country, I paid to see the film, and I wrote what I thought about it. For once, please try to respect other people’s opinion. Not everything is about you or what you think all the time.

  • boi skater

    There is nothing not to like about this movie. Some people
    can net-pick for perfection but there is no such thing as perfection in life.
    It is a delight to watch, especially in 3D and I’m glad it is in English because
    I don’t really like subtitles. You miss so much of the movie when watching and
    reading at the same time. I’ve seen this abroad so for me this is one of the
    top 5 movies of 2012.

  • boi skater

    There is nothing not to like about this movie. Some people
    can nitpick for perfection but there is no such thing as perfection in life. It
    is a delight to watch, especially in 3D and I’m glad it is in English because I
    don’t really like subtitles. You miss so much of the movie when watching and
    reading at the same time. I’ve seen this abroad so for me this is one of the
    top 5 movies of 2012.

  • basilionisisa

    i read this book some years back and i thought the tiger was a metaphor for Man’s mixed feelings of Fear and Courage against Nature’s Beast of Disasters and Ravages, ie wasn’t actually physical but merely a hallucination. i guess i was wrong, have to re-read it perhaps before seeing the movie which i thought impossible to make.

    • Iggy Ramirez

      When he was interrogated by the Japanese owners of the sunken ship after he was found on the coast of mexico, he first told them that he was adrift with 4 animals who, in many ways, strangely behaved like humans. But the japanese investigators refused to believe his story, saying that it was impossible to have happened, citing a particular example in which the orangutan rode the banana raft to reach the life boat. So he was forced to give the same story, but this time he used humans in place of the animals, which the japanese alternately believed.

      The writer who had been listening to his story from the beginning, interpreted how the zebra was the sailor, how the butcher was the hyena, how the orangutan was his mother, and how the tiger was him.

      He then told the writer, I gave you two stories, it’s up to you to choose which one to believe.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94