I should say up front this is not a film review as such, more a reflection influenced by the film.
A couple of days ago I went with my friend Andrew to see Life Of Pi by Ang Lee. It’s hard to categorise it as it is so unique but it could be said to be a coming of age film. Unlike myself, Andrew had read the book, written by Yann Martel and published in 2001, but said at the end that he was envious of me hearing the story for the first time, not knowing where it would go.
A number of years back I had accompanied Andrew to the Tate Modern gallery in London. At one point we found ourselves on the top floor, at the time home to their modern art exhibits. As we wandered round the various installations and canvasses I became increasingly impatient to leave, modern art not “floating my boat,” as a late friend used to say about scripts he didn’t understand. Andrew asked what it was I didn’t like about the art. That was easy, I said, pointing to an obscure large canvass with merely a brush swirl of colour upon its surface. I could do that! Maybe, he replied, but you had to have thought of it first.
That changed my entire view, and appreciation, of all art, not just modern. However, one view hadn’t changed. I would gaze upon a piece, deciding for myself what it meant. Then I would read the explanation by the artist. Almost every time I differed with the artist’s explanation, preferring to believe my own, at times more spiritual version, as, in my opinion, it was a better story. An allegory in effect.
Well, Life Of Pi has had the same effect on me as that moment back in the Tate. In essence it is the story of one boy surviving against all odds. Not until you reach the end do you realise that the story is an allegory of a certain subject, and it takes you by surprise.
I’m being purposely vague because I want you to see the film as I did, not knowing the end or the overall arch. It certainly was thought provoking. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t have the same effect on you.