Tigers have been a bit of a recurring theme recently; after my experience with ‘The Night Guest’, here comes a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker; he impressed me rather more than Ruth’s imaginary big cat. I read Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ many years ago and whilst only the outline of the story has remained with me, I distinctly recall becoming immersed in the novel, to the exclusion of pretty much everything else for a couple of days. Directed by Ang Lee and released in 2012, the film version of ‘Life of Pi’ won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 102 other film awards (winning 75 of them). All totally fitting for the screen adaptation of a Booker prize-winning novel.
Pi’s childhood is spent in Pondicherry, where his parents run a zoo. He is raised a Hindu, but elements of the Christian and Islam faiths also appeal to him, so the young lad resolves to follow all three. When Mr & Mrs Patel decide to make a better life for the family, they pack up the zoo, including all the animals, and set sail for Canada. Following a tumultuous storm, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat. His only companions are a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, an orang-utan and Richard Parker. Of course the film is allegorical; the director explores issues of faith and belief, co-existence and truth, but it still delivers as entertainment.
It is a glorious movie, with stunning special effects: I wish I had seen on it on a big screen as the spectacle was somewhat diminished on my household TV, even with its 42″ screen. The 3D must have been awesome. In true nerd fashion, I played the ‘additional features’ section of the DVD, which revealed the trade secrets behind the creation of many awe-inspiring scenes. Watching the painstaking and time-consuming efforts which went in to crafting the changing sea, the movement of the animals and the algae island which Pi discovers, made the Lee’s achievements even more impressive. The film enveloped me in pretty much the same way as the novel did; my only regret was having waited so long to see it.