“I have a story that will make you believe in God.”
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
About the Book, Life of Pi
(and please note, this book/movie has NOTHING to do with math.)
It’s hard to write a review and not talk about the book. It’s a great book. Maybe I liked it because Yann Martel writes in that conversational, yet literary way that grabs you, reminds you of things, and makes you think; or maybe it was the incredible story of courage, despair, faith, hope and love that got me turning the pages. Either way, if you like to read, you might want to check it out. If you don’t like to read….then you probably shouldn’t see the movie, unless you like animals and tend to be a deep thinker.
The movie adheres closely to the book, even directly quoting it several times. There are three faces to this movie. One is the adventure of being lost at sea with only a tiger for company. This would totally have rocked my action/adventure streak, except the movie (according to someone who saw it with me) is slow in the beginning, slow in the middle, and slow at the end. There’s a lot of Pi talking to Yann and narrative overlay. So if you’re wanting a real action flick, Red Dawn is probably a better choice for you (I haven’t seen it, so not really recommending it…though I do have an appreciation for the ’80’s version).
Another facet to the movie is the incredible cinematography/graphics. For that, I’m guessing, it’s an Oscar contender. I actually opted for the 3D version. (Mostly to show a dear friend what all the 3D hype is, and I thought this would be one of the less violent versions to go with–CG doesn’t count.) And it was a delight for the eyes–all those cool fish and grand water scenes. I even bought into the tiger being real.
The Question of God
But the part of the movie (and book) that I love the most is how it addresses the question of God. It doesn’t ever really answer it with that “you better believe this, buddy” attitude. It simply tells one man’s journey and leaves it at your feet. It’s not really for you to decide whether or not God exists, but whether or not you will believe he exists. Religion is looked at, but the real story is faith. What will you believe? Will it be a religion to you or the lens from which you see the world?
Since Pi never really followed one particular religion, but rather devoted himself to Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, I’m pretty sure a huge group of viewers will quickly make the Universalist jump, but that’s not the point. And if that’s all you think after seeing the film or reading the book, then you need to look a little deeper.
My favorite line in the movie comes at the end. I looked for it in the book, but I couldn’t find it. It comes when Pi is wrapping up his journey. As he looks back, he realizes God never left him. God didn’t desert him in those horrible, death-filled days, but instead God gave him what he needed to go the next step. The Bengal tiger gave him strength and purpose. The murderous island paradise refreshed his body and pushed him back out into the water. God never left him. The movie lets us glimpse into the faith of one man who endured more than any of us will ever endure and who came out the other side on his knees having witnessed how omnipotence touches our frail lives and transforms us.
I give the movie a “5.5”. I sort of feel bad about this score, but it was a little slow at times. It did hold more meaning for me than Skyfall, though…maybe if I hadn’t read the book, I’d be going higher. The book gets an “8”. Happy movie watching and book reading!!!