Film Blog

The Life of Pi

posted by the hanging out team - Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ang Lee’s dreamlike film The Life of Pi tells the story of a young Indian boy, who finds himself stranded on a raft with only a hungry Bengal Tiger to keep him company and the lengths he goes to survive and keep the tiger at bay.

It is in the telling of this story that one finds the best achievement of this film. Other reviewers appear to have gone overboard with lavish praise of the special effects, but the actual narrative and the way it is presented is captivating and masterfully achieved. In the hands of others this film might have boiled down to a shaggy dog (or tiger!) story but Lee uses the right mix of humour, action sequences and storytelling, keeping the audience captivated, emotionally attached and never delving to far into the realms style over substance- something that 3d pictures have tended to do so far.

The film is divided into three parts; the first, fun but slightly too long, explains Pi’s early years and sets the scene for what is to come. We learn from the narration of the adult Pi, talking to an author looking to clear his writer’s block, that his father owned a zoo in India which he decides to transport to Canada to sell, using the funds to resettle his family there. One of the inhabitants of the zoo that we have already been introduced to (and witnessed the ferocity of, courtesy of a poor, wobbly goat) is the fully grown Benghal Tiger called Richard Parker. The second part begins after the steamer he is travelling on sinks. Pi finds himself sharing his dingy with Richard Parker and a selection of other animals that are all polished off rather quickly, leaving him to play cat and mouse with Richard Parker. The ways in which Pi learns to live with Richard Parker and find food for both of them are touching and funny but one does get the sense that they are occasionally slightly strained in Lee’s search for profundity. The third section of the film ties up the conversation and adds a closure to the film as well as providing a nice little twist to the tale.

Suraj Sharma, who plays the younger Pi, makes an impressive film debut. Image courtesy of Bollywood Hungama

Throughout the film the compositions that Lee uses are wonderful, he takes the ocean and uses it like a blank canvas; the special effects are also impressive during the action sequences, but sometimes the 3d seems at odds with the CGI; when there is a lot happening on the screen the film started to look like a computer game. The CGI showcase of the film was undoubtedly meant to be the Tiger, but in some scenes the resemblance was a little too close to The Jungle Book.

I don’t mind admitting that I am sceptical of CGI. For me there is no real wonder or awe in an image that was generated by a computer. It used to be fun to guess and be impressed with man-made special effects, they had a “how did they do that?” factor to them. The use of CGI, for me, removes the human touch and artistic ability that should be cherished in cinema. That is not to say that it was not visually impressive: the 3d in the underwater scenes were excellent, giving the viewer a sense of depth and perspective not normally found.

The Life of Pi is a very enjoyable cinematic experience, with dazzling digital images and, if you can ignore the slightly silly search for greater meaning, an enjoyable, well told story that is never too challenging. It is showing at Rich Mix cinema in Shoreditch, details are available here.

By Lee Greatorex

Recent Posts


Regency Enterprises overseer Illustrator Devyn A. Tyler cotton Jeremy Kleiner Shaggy Ang Lee Louisiana Robert Redford Christoph Waltz Platt screenwriter Sue Eakin novelist Britney Spears Quentin Tarantino memoir Michael Shannon Science Fiction violence Don Letts The Avengers Best Actor One Love Hans Zimmer Benedict Cumberbatch Paul Giamatti drugged Henry Caville Bryan Batt Madonna 2013 Sundance Film Festival Leonardo DiCaprio Robot and Frank United States Arnon Milchan Trevor D Rhone Man of Steel Best Picture Black Friday Idris Elba Felicity 50th Anniversary of Jamaica’s independence Dwight Henry Dede Gardner free North violent Zanzibar freedom Wyclef Jean Ky-mani Marley 2014 Golden Globes Quvenzhané Wallis Robots of Brixton Sizzla lynching Scoot McNairy Patsey Anthony Katagas Elam Forrester Bocage Joseph Logsdon Washington Bill Camp fieldslave Sly and Robbie nine Academy Award Lupita Nyong'o Drama Alfre Woodard Writer Brixton Riots channel 4 interview Rich Mix CGI Jamie Foxx Hanging Out Taran Killam British epic Jay Huguley Kelsey Scott 1853 film Superman Michael Fassbender historical Bill Pohlad Rick Elgood marek tarkowski Oscars Steve McQueen true story Rob Steinberg Morgan Heritage Paul Dano Peter Sarsgaard Slavery Sarah Paulson Bethnal Green John Ridley Kibwe Tavares 150 years ago black man Dementia Brad Pitt Poster 12 Years a Slave revenge The Harder They Come African American Russell Crowe carpenter Bass Garret Dillahunt west end pub Sundance Film Festival Ruth Negga freeman The Life of Pi Kilburn Django Unchained Benghal Tiger Best Director controversy short film Stoker Yvonne Deutschman Deep South Slaves New Orleans Michael Fanti tricked Sean Paul Michael K. Williams Frank Langella long take America Cameron Zeigler Memory Loss Richard Parker Chiwetel Ejiofor Factory Fifteen Prometheus Christopher Berry Bob Marley Magnolia HBO TV Fantasy walk the line Hanging Out Project Chris Chalk Jonah Sean Bobbitt Bob Marley’s son Zack Snyder best motion picture Joe Walker Saratoga Springs Adepero Oduye New York State Jamaica Cherine Anderson Solomon Northup Destrehan


    Business Hubs

    Tuareg Productions LTD
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space