Sunday, 6 January 2013

Scene 41: The Life of Pi Review

The first post of a new year, and I've decided to review The Life of Pi, which I saw in my local cinema on New Year's Day. The film is based on the prize winning book of the same name, by Yann Martel, and has been translated to the screen by director Ang Lee. It is available in 3D, but I saw it in plain old 2D. 

The film is told in flashback by an older version of Pi to a writer, who has heard he has an amazing story to tell - and so he tells him this wondrous story of he survived, as a young man,  in a lifeboat with a tiger called Richard Parker, after the ship he was on sunk.

The film is visually fantastic, without the 3D, it looks great. Even in the quieter scenes, like in India and with the writer, look fresh and are full of colours. 

However, the best scenes happen out at sea, when the ship sinks in a whirlwind of rain and when Pi is stranded in the ocean. Light is used to a great effect in a scene where Pi looks beneath the waves and sees a flurry of strange and lovely images - including a colourful glimpse of galaxies and stars. 

Whilst those scenes are brilliant for their dreamlike quality, the tiger is incredible for its realism. I believe it must be mostly CGI, but it looks very real. It also sounds very real - its growling sounds threatening and close. 

I must say that the three actors who portrayed Pi were all excellent as well. They were all completely believable, and even though they were dealing with quite a dramatic story, they came across as melodramatic. 

Pi is a charming character, one which I enjoyed watching and who I sympathised with - which is fortunate, because as an audience we spend a lot time with him.

Now, I've gushed a bit about the look of the film and the main character, but what makes this film so good, I think, is that it is more than just a pretty face. In a way you can view it as two films - a wondrous story about a boy and tiger in a boat, or as beautiful discussion on religion, philosophy and human nature, without a perfectly definite answer at the end.

I won't spoil the ending for anyone here, but if you have an interest in faith, human nature or philosophy, and a friend to discuss it with, you'll be talking for hours. It is a very thought provoking film, if you wish it to be, and I am sure people will have lots of different interpretations. 

This is why I think The Life of Pi may become a classic film one day - because its so lovely to watch, and yet so thought provoking. 

Who knows, ether way I can highly recommend it, and I think I may go see it again, but in 3D. 

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