Pi

I laid in bed for 5 hours, in a semi-consciousness.  I think I’ve slept, but my mind is restless.  All because I saw Life of Pi, must babble a bit before I start my day!

It is one of the most thought provoking book/fable I’ve read.  I’ve been hesitant to watch the movie because I’m a wimp but more so, even though I have faith in Ang Lee who is a genius at visual poetry…my faith runs as deep as he is the only choice who can even tackle the material, in 3D, without me crying banshee, I am more than skeptical this is ever translatable to film.  I am bored to tears watching Castaway.  The book is not an easy read.  It seems full of hope and whimsy and all encompassing love and passion for life swarming me with warmth and hope, yet the longer I thought about it, there is the brutally honest discussion of mankind and faith, rational and irrational, a lingering chill I can’t shake all in one.  And I started questioning a lot of what is real or not of what I’ve read.  It’s exactly this unease that the movie is brilliant, there are scenes because it’s 3D I’m involuntarily reacting to, so engaging it can not be doubt as unreal, yet the cinematography intentionally gloss an eerily ornate sheen of lush magic on it.

I think this is Ang Lee’s greatest achievement.  If he ever surpasses this, that would be a masterpiece for ages and forever.  However, this is not my favorite movie of him (that would be Lust, Caution).  This is an exhausting watch, but I’m shocked still with the reaction of 2 of my companions not feeling much about it other than it’s stupendous to look at.  Maybe this is his most demanding movie for the audience.  Yes, it can be enjoyed at face value, the stunning visual technicality may have surpassed Avatar but the overtly careful pace lost my friends who have not read the book.  Mr Lee is not interested in entertaining here, he’s into masterful storytelling.  Perhaps it’s crucial to read the book thoroughly and form your opinion before watching the movie experiencing Mr. Lee’s interpretation, or what he and scriptwriter have provided you to interpret because he didn’t serve his views on a convenient platter, he presented it most respectfully, meticulously as it should, filled with his most subtle of thoughts in every line used, every scenery shown, yet so subtle it’s almost impossible to grasp while watching the movie first hand…I didn’t.  So the movie experience itself is not as engrossing as I had hoped, and also the visual is sooooooo stunning it’s all encompassing, so dazzling you are in awe appreciating the stimulus can’t spare much capacity internalizing the scene.   It’s not till I’ve close my eyes, about to black out thinking about a few vague and beguiling scenes that had my head spinning since.

Ang Lee is a genius.  That’s all I’m concluding.  I’m still figuring out the ending and I’m flipping this way or that forever with endless interpretations and I can’t make up my mind…I think I’m leaning towards one but it’s disturbing me to no end…that’s not what I ‘believe’ reading the book.  I think the morale of the story is we choose to believe what will project a better world regardless of the reasoning and reality, and that in essence is the make-up of faith.

6 thoughts on “Pi

  1. I knew you’d write about Pi YAY!

    Never read the book so I had expectations mere out of raves that this be one of the best 3D films ever done, not story. I knew it had a boy and Pi and a tiger floating in the vast ocean that’s all. But even with such I came out of the film marveled by Ang Lee’s masterful storytelling and direction, piqued by the potential questions raised, and somewhat bothered (in a good way) by the ending presented (did ending stay true to the book?).

    Like all others I was almost convinced that his journey was a marvel reiteration of how he’d survived and journeyed thru all the tribulations by the thin thread of hope and faith in God and himself, UNTIL the very last scene of him telling “his story” in a different version. I was prepared to ignore the alleged purposeful twist by some, and stick to my version in that everything he’d experienced was real and beautiful. But his emotions, his expressions on his face, too painfully affecting I cannot unsee! I dunno about the book, but when the filmed presented the ending the way it did, I felt a tad cheated and manipulated?

    Then an afterthought got me thinking back to some scenes with the tiger, some words said, by his younger self, his father, his mother, some purposeful attention given to certain minor characters.. and I’m LIKE, there really is more to than what’s telling on the surface. Beneath all the bedazzling visuals and cinematography, beneath the story of survival on hope and faith, lies something even more telling – preference and interpretation on what we want to believe. And to have that all depicted on film, I really applaud Ang Lee’s effort and genius.

    My conclusion keeps changing every other minute. One moment I’m inclined to believe the beauty of human trial and tribulations, one second I gear towards escapism from brutal reality, and another I’m guessing they’re actually all the same, one story but told in different ways to suit our preferences. But either any way, they’re all thought provoking all the same, and probably doesn’t matter as long as it suits your preference of interpretation.

    Great film!

    1. So Well written Chingu!

      I’m in a hurry so I don’t have the capacity to write without *spoilers*.

      It’s quite true to the book, but with all adaptations things are trimmed and added on to suit the medium. Hence the genius of Ang Lee. I’m not saying the movie is better than the book, I can’t compare them, my experience reading the book is quite idyllic even though it’s more graphic (a lot of gore is omitted for the PG rating), when I was watching it there are scenes I’m a bit flabbergasted (the puppy love) and then I was expected the second story to be fleshed out instead of just told as is (but then do we tend to always believe the story more beautifully told, attesting to our senses, than not?) When I was reading my interpretation was the second story is the brutal happenings, pertaining to his father’s practical pragmatism, however as his mother said, facts and science is nothing like spirituality in dealing with our inner turmoils…and the fanciful story is how Pi cope with the trauma. He compartmentalized everything survivalistic, all the brutal acts he had to commit as Richard Parker’s doing, to separate from and safeguard his inner peace. Both have elements of untruths to it when told, esp in the format of the middle aged Pi telling his story to the writer for him to write about it esp when it’s said to be the mother of all stories to make one believe in God, as the art and beauty of storytelling goes, we all have our own interpretation. And that’s also what Ang Lee did, but he did leave us a lot of clues as to his own interpretation, which I had not thought about, but he didn’t forcefeed us any, just always fanciful, dreamlike visuals heightening the fantastical.

      What stay oddly fictional in both accounts is the strange island of desert meerkats, the soil-less island supporting lush forest of trees. When the human tooth is found in the flower, and the nighttime caustic flow….and the glowing island as Pi and Richard Parker left is the silhouette of a lying lady/Goddess.. everything is pointing at PI ate the corpse of his Mom, ‘Thank you Goddess for reappearing as a fish to save my life.’ He said, in the emotional scene when our vegetarian Pi killed a fish out of necessity. It is then echoed by the dead rotting fish in the breathtaking gorgeous fresh water utopia by day, but a cesspool of death at night. And him tying that bracelet his puppy love gave him, bidding farewell of a dear one on a tree trunk at the island. It must be the truth is too much to bear he has to fabricate this thread so out of rationality, as a reminder, but also as a haven for him to forget, a channel to forgive himself and move on.

      1. I need to read the book STAT!

        I think your interpretation (from the book) makes a lot of sense, a preferable one out of all the reviews/comments I’ve read so far. Of course, Pi shelving his traumatic experience by re-enacting everything in a different version altogether makes for less psychological hurt and pain for himself, and the reader/writer. We all want to see, hear and believe in the better, and the more beautiful. But the part of him telling both stories, somewhat in his father’s and mother’s perspectives really blew me away (if that’s what book and film wanted to show us). That really didn’t occur to me until hours later, until I got back home, and read reviews of what might have been the purpose of the ending. And it hit me, the purpose of Pi’s father and mother’s words when he was young, Science RL v. the internal faith in the higher/God. The brutal story could be true, devastating and sick, but when told in the form of the film’s 1.5 hr projection, it appears to be less sickening (animals devouring another isn’t as gory or violent I guess) and somewhat hopeful. That is when I started to realise the beauty of the film! OMG.

        And I totally forgot the island scene, I saw that lady-like human figure and it gave me goosebumps, tho I didn’t quite know why when I watched it, and thought about it hours later but cudn’t quite figure out the purpose of it (middle aged pi did hint about the disappearance of the island after he left i.e,. hence a fictional creation of Pi’s). But reading yours, I’m opened again, blown away how yes this could be the reason why he’d brought up the fact that the whole island was carnivorous, all the hints, the tooth…everything, they all sum and piece up to something bigger. Who is this writer, how did he think of ALL THIS?!!

        I’m still baffled. Need to rewatch!

        1. I’ve not been able to read the reviews yet, but I will make time.
          There’s also sth very marvelous I think AngLee did that I think was close to impossible. I made a conclusion after the book, but while watching the movie, it’s carte blanche…during the 1.5 of most poetic and fantastical use of 3D imagery I can be so enthralled and truly open to any interpretation. In a sense it is that innocence, that child-like approach to everything in life that is fueling hope, that naivete, reacting with instinct instead of morality baggage is what Richard Parker is and why Pi is so devastated when RP is abruptly gone and vanished (signifying his loss of innocence forever…)

  2. I just saw this amazing move tonight and it’s one movie you need to watch it more than once. I haven’t read the book and the ending totally swept me off my feet. I share the same view that the truth lies with the imaginery island. I was pondering then why the island resembling Pi’s mother and as you both said, things only hit you hours after the movie ended. Ang Lee provided us with this journey that it is up to you which way you want to go, which piece of puzzle you want to put together. There is the easy option and the difficult option just as anything in real life. Consummate storytelling.

    I will definitely watched it again!

    1. It is. Ang Lee can do no wrong EVER in adaptation, EVER. He has such a thorough and all encompassing understanding of his material and through his unique mastery ofhis canvas can express it to us through our own interpretation.

      After I had more thought on it, it is a fable of how we find inner peace, how we get a balance of the rational (based on facts and reasons) and spiritual (leap of faith). It’s also shed a light on how we, as a human being, have these seemingly polarizing ideals and doctrines (say the influence of each of Pi’s parents) pulling us to opposite ends and we need to find a middle ground for them to flourish and enlighten us.

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