Tuesday, 25 December 2012


There are easy ways for a filmmaker to scare an audience, to make an audience cry, to enrage an audience, to make one laugh, recoil, even think. Life of Pi reaches a pivotal point, perhaps two thirds or three quarters through, where its true meaning, its 'raison d'etre' becomes apparent. It uncoils from within, and shifts shape several times over the course of the remaining scenes, revealing a spiritual and thematic depth that, it turns out, has underpinned every frame of what we have already seen, and will underpin every frame further until the credits roll. The story we have been following is a solid one, anyway - it has no pressing need for this extra element. But the film does, if it is to become more than just a simple adventure film, and boy, is it more than that. This is where, gradually, Ang Lee achieves something for which I know not of an easy way: he makes us aware. We become aware of nature, of its beauty and its terror, of animals, of their instincts and their intelligence, and, if you choose to interpret it so, of God. At the least, we become aware (through cinema, no less, not some religious epiphany) of the indefinable, inexplicable spirit that exists in all things, or perhaps the spirits that exist in each thing, and how these compliment, contradict and combat one another. This is related back to religion as we understand it, although this link is not insisted upon, rather it is implanted early in the film, and will remain integral if you wish, not if you don't. And if you wish to put stock in none of the above, you may still enjoy Life of Pi tremendously, as it is a remarkably involving story, shot exquisitely (the visual effects are second-to-none), acted with grace and subtlety, and with much empathy for the characters. It is written and directed with the same empathy for mankind, both before the camera and before the cinema screen. Life of Pi is a lovely, enlightening experience, and yet another masterpiece by Ang Lee.