on 17 July 2013
The Life of Pi was well worth the wait. I've watched it twice now, and is one of those films you will never tire of. Ang Lee has brought us many great films, but this must be one of his best works ever. It is not only visually stunning, but also will leave you wondering. Was it all an allegory?
Towards the beginning of Ang Lee's adaptation of Yan Martell Life of Pi, Pi of the title, is talking to a Writer and interestingly says something like "I will tell you my story, how much you believe is true is up to you". This is your first clue as to the book and films intention. If you believe in something that doesn't mean it's true, and if something is true you may choose not to believe in it. Truth and belief are at best strange bedfellows and at worst mortal enemies.
We are then presented with the film in a series of flashback as Pi tells the story and the writer listens. This truly fantastical tale of shipwrecks and a man eating Tiger is told with stylised and genuinely stunning imagery, literally dripping with an over saturated vivid colour palette. This is the second clue. Are we watching a dream or someone's version of another truth? The question in my head is this, whose version of this tale are we seeing, the listener or the teller. Is the teller remembering the real truth or what he believes is the truth? Is the listener embellishing for his own ends? Are truth and belief being mixed up or is that how it always is?
Life of Pi is just stunning, even the simple opening credit sequence is a joy and full of sly humour. The flashback dissolves are inventive and connect the now with the then beautifully. The Computer Generated Imagery is almost too good; it really is very difficult to work out what is real and what is not. Apparently only a very few shots of Richard Parker (the Tiger) are real, the rest is CGI. The script is beautifully written and the screenplay is well balanced. The acting is first class without exception and the direction is never less than interesting.
Life of Pi is not for everyone, taken at face value, and lots of people and reviewers have done just that, you will think it's a daft tale about a boy and a Tiger. If you can see past the obvious, read between the lines and see it as a tale about the human condition, you will enjoy a wonderful film that explores the murky world of belief and its relationship, if it has one, to the truth.
Out of 67 reviews on this site 50 have given the film 4 or 5 stars. With huge grosses worldwide and excellent reviews in the press and winning 4 Oscars, Life of Pi is assured a place in the top five films of the year.
on 29 June 2013
A magical piece of storytelling with wonderful scenery and camera work that deserves being seen on Blu-ray. You know that there must have been some technological manufacturing of the tiger and other creatures at times, but it was so ingeniously done that you are allowed to just believe it was real and you really feel you are in the boat with Pi. We watched it as a family (10 to 65 years) and it was enjoyed by all, on different levels. The last 15 minutes contained a clever twist that turned a story into something more haunting and mysterious and left us discussing it at length, with each of us drawing different conclusions. Though we only saw it 3 weeks ago we are going to watch it again tonight.
on 9 February 2013
I'm not one to use soppy words like 'beautiful' very often, but I can think of no other way to describe the film I have just seen.
For those looking for something inspirational, philosophical or spiritual, I'm sure you'll find something here. I was looking for good entertainment while I munch popcorn, and the film provides plenty of that too. There are plenty of reviews about this film already, so I'll just post a few comments on the version for 3D televisions.
It's absolutely stunning.
Right from the opening sequence in the zoo, the 3D is spellbinding. A hummingbird buzzes around a bewildered sloth, a monitor lizard peers out of the screen before scampering along the road. There's a flock of pink flamingos, a giraffe, monkeys, and much more, all exquisitely filmed, pin-sharp and in perfect 3D. I think this is the only time I've ever rewound a film to watch the opening credits before proceeding to watch the film. It really is done that well. The quality is maintained throughout the rest of the film, with the 3D being used to provide depth rather than having things jump out of the screen at you (with a couple of minor exceptions). The storm and the shipwreck are jaw-droppingly effective. In fact the whole film is, with the 3D drawing the viewer into the film time and time again. Technically, I think the 3D is near perfect - I could see no ghosting or crosstalk whatsoever during the film, with only minor crosstalk during the closing credits (white line drawings moving across a black background did produce some minor crosstalk). My system is nothing special, a Samsung PS51E550 telly and a Playstation 3.
I only bought this film on a whim, I didn't really know what to expect. Having seen it, I cannot praise this film enough.
(Edit: this review is dated the 9th February for some strange reason. I'm writing it on 30th April)
on 7 March 2013
Having seen the movie first in 3D, I was completely blown away by pretty much every aspect; the story itself, the format it was portrayed on screen, the effects and most of all, the fact that it is unlike any other film out at the moment. I started the book a week or so after and liked how certain things were changed for the movie (the romance) but how they managed to still maintain the raw overall story from the book and how not everything was lost on it's way from the book to the screen. Most people would say when it comes to any movie that you should read the book first. However for me with this particular story I'm glad I saw the movie first because having knowing what the ending was I was able to analyze in detail as I was reading by using the ending as a reference point, otherwise I probably would have had to read it all again to get a clearer understanding.
I would highly recommend this book and DVD to anyone who is looking for something groundbreakingly different.
And by the way, after I finished the book I went to see it again in the cinema ;D
on 27 September 2013
The story goes: A Canadian writer (Rafe Spall) has been told that an Indian called Piscine 'Pi' Patel (adult Pi = Irrfan Khan), who lives in French Canada, has a wonderful story to tell. Piscine tells the writer how he came to have a name which has nothing to do with mathematics. He tells of his childhood in Pondicherry, India, how other children ridiculed Piscine's (age 5 Gautam Belur, age 11/12 Ayush Tandon) name, and how his father, a businessman, decided to create a zoo. However, in time the zoo can no longer be afforded and the animals are to be sold in Canada. The family and animals are travelling there on a cargo ship but it's shipwrecked when a storm brews up. The teenage Pi (Suraj Sharma) survives the disaster and is afloat in a lifeboat together with an assortment of animals including a feisty Bengal tiger called Richard Parker.
Of all the aesthetically pleasing movies I have seen Life of Pi (2012) has to be up there with the best. I watched this on a Blu-ray and from the opening moments I felt as if I were almost watching it in 3D. The colours are exquisite, the characters seem to stand out from the screen, and the attention to detail was amazing; for example, at the beginning during the opening credits, we see a monkey swinging in a tree and then a letter from one of the names onscreen drops and swings. It goes without saying that the CGIs and special effects were outstanding. Truly, although my Blu-ray collection is not yet extensive, Life of Pi makes the others seem to be far from High Definition.
I began watching Life of Pi (2012) with not the slightest idea of what the film would be about other than a youth and a tiger being adrift at sea. I have not, as yet, read the book by Yann Martel. Some reviewers have written spoilers for this movie, revealing the conclusion of the movie. No spoilers here. Watch and be surprised by adult Pi's revelations, as I was.
If you buy the Blu-ray (or DVD) be sure to watch the extras about how the movie, which took 4 years to make and cost approx. $120 million, was made. Fascinating stuff. A real tiger called King was involved in the making of this movie and the real tiger is cleverly used in the movie together with a computer generated tiger. It's not easy to tell which is which and the director, Ang Lee, was fooled when shown CGI images of the tiger before the film was finalised. In the extra footage, we see close up photographs of the face of King and the CGI (computer generated image) side by side and the latter is incredibly realistic. The CGI tiger was slightly larger and, to me, looked a bit more friendly! The extras are very informative about the making of the film, of finding the young actor, Suraj, who had never acted before. I strongly recommend watching the movie first though because once you discover how it was all made then the movie might lose some of its magic for you. This is an interesting webpage that you might find interesting about the making of the movie but, again, I wouldn't want to see it before I'd seen the movie: fxguide.com/featured/life-of-pi/
Something that very much interested me was that Ang Lee and the Life of Pi movie team utilised the knowledge and experience of Steven Callahan, who was adrift at sea on a raft for 76 days after his sloop capsized, and bore hunger and heat while being attacked by sharks and being overlooked by passing ships. Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea, available at Amazon. Another thing that caught my attention and let me know Pi had arrived in the Caribbean was the flying fish. They are the national dish of Barbados. A wonderful moment, when the fish had 'flown' by with a predator swimming behind them, was that Pi was covered in fish scales.
While the movie is rated PG, I think some of the scenes are quite harrowing and really are not suitable for children, especially younger ones.
VJ - (website) Movies and Books World
Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" is strikingly beautiful in many ways, from great cinematography to the story being portrayed. You need to be prepared is half of the movie is graphics with music. I will not take the time to compare and contrast this film with others as it is so unique in itself.
I have to admit that I have not read the novel by Yann Martel and I am sure that a lot has been left out. I will need to read the book to find out what was implied; unless of course the screenplay went off in a different direction. You will want to watch this film over again after the shock value so that you can pick up the nuances that you missed while you were speculating on what was about to happen.
The basic story is about a young man named Pi (Suraj Sharma) whose father owns a zoo. Throughout his life Pi wonders about what Douglas Adams calls "life the universe and everything." Because of business concerns his father packs up the zoo animals on a freighter setting out for Canada. Due to a mishap Pi no longer has to speculate but actually lives "life the universe and everything." We travel with them through his trials and tribulations wondering what we would do in that situation.
One can come away from this film with a new insight or at least say that they saw a movie that was strikingly beautiful in many ways.
Ang Lee has a fine record for making unusual films, and from `Eat Drink Man Woman' through `Hulk' to `Brokeback Mountain' has proven to be the antithesis of a formulaic director. True to form, his film of Yann Martel's "un-filmable" book `Life of Pi' is a triumph of cinematography and storytelling. The underlying themes of God-evidenced-in-Nature and the victory of the human spirit in adversity are very well realised by Lee's narrative structure and editing, and the film is a feast for the eyes and the mind.
The story is told in first-person narrative with Pi as narrator, his character played by four different actors as he ages. The excellent young Suraj Sharma takes the lion's share (tiger's share?) as the 16-year old Pi in the film's main sequence when adrift on the Pacific with Bengal tiger Richard Parker following a shipwreck. Sharma (picked from 3,000 actors who auditioned for the part) delivers a convincing performance of fear, struggle, cool intelligence & courage, and gradually masters his hostile environment and terrible predicament, growing spiritually on the journey as he asserts dominance over the tiger so that they might both survive. Although for safety reasons the tiger and Sharma were filmed separately, you will absolutely believe in the terrifying visceral power of their face-to-face confrontations and in their developing relationship.
The wildlife in the film looks superb and the wild animals behave exactly like wild animals, red in tooth and claw. There's no sentimentality here, and the viewer is never spared the cruelties of nature. For this reason the film may be disturbing to young children despite its often enchanting visual content.
The Blu-ray 3D release contains a documentary film (itself in 3D) about the making of the film in which Lee explains how he conceived the film from the beginning as a 3D experience for the audience, and that this is the medium in which it needs to be seen. There's a lot of detail here for film buffs.
Some have chosen to nit-pick at details of the film and a few have disliked it; it may be that for those viewers this is just not the kind of story that floats their boat, so to speak. `Life of Pi' strives to explore deeper territory than the average Hollywood fare, in a highly original way. Lee succeeds in discussing the philosophy of religion; is there a creator and where can we experience evidence of it in nature? This is quite a difficult trick to pull off in a 127-minute film whilst entertaining the audience at the same time, but Lee's rare talent does just about manage it - and with a sting in the tail, too: at the end of the day, which story do you prefer?
for economic reasons 'Pi's' family has to sell up, leaving 'India'
for a better future in 'Canada'
the family and many of the animals from the zoo his father owned
on board, they set sail.
in the middle of the ocean a ferocious storm leads to the ship
sinking, before which 'Pi' had been persuaded to board the lifeboat,
before anyone else can do so the craft breaks loose.
'Pi' is joined by a 'zebra' that had fallen from the deck, the fall
leaving it badly injured.
'Pi' throws a life-jacket out to sea pulling in the 'tiger'
a 'Hyena' and 'Orangutan' are among 'Pi's' early guests on board, quickly
falling out of course.
'Pi' had forgotten the 'Bengal Tiger' he'd pulled in earlier unaware it
was underneath the boats canvas.......he was soon reminded.
'the two survivors have to put aside their natural instincts if they
are to co-exist in the middle of the ocean, somehow trust has to grow if
either or both are to survive.
this is 'Pi' and 'Richard Parker's' ( the tiger ) story of an unlikely and
remarkable friendship against all odds.
a bonanza of stunning special effects, a visual masterpiece............
not to be missed.
What more can you say about a film that has won oscars for direction, as well as its ground-breaking effects and is based on an award-winning book that has sold millions?
Well now we can see this as many times as we like, at our leisure in the 3D version that Ang Lee intended and designed. This 2-disc 3D version of the Blu Ray, has several extras and in the impressive "making of" documentary, it is explained how they designed everything for 3D presentation and did all the editing in 3D - which is quite unusual - but it certainly deserves to be seen in this medium.
Ang Lee has created a true work of art - an incredible visual feast, which makes the most of all the resources used in its long 4-year production time. You can of course, watch this in 2D and still be impressed by the beauty of the images - but 3D adds to the immersive feel of truly being there and allows you to suspend your disbelief - which is what this is all about of course.
The "extras" detail the huge amount of work that went into the creation of the live action and then the digital post-production which went into CGI that possibly for the first time, seems genuinely to have us believing in it. We do believe that a bengal tiger is in the boat and we do feel the huge presence of the Pacific depths. The unusual thing about the extras is that some are actually presented in 3D as well - usually it is only the feature that gets this treatment. But here Ang Lee is keen to show us how the CGI was matched seamlessly to the live action, to create a world of magical realism.
All of the technical achievements detailed in the various extras wouldn't matter much though, if this was not a good film and it was just a shallow attention-grabber. But this is a truly wonderful and unusual story - looking at the philosophy of religion and the meaning of faith. Inspired by the beauty and spirituality of parts of India - where ancient temples are populated by spectacular wild life. Every moment and every phrase has a meaning - whether allegorical or literal.
We have Pi's life before and after, which is dedicated to religion - all religion - whether Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Islam. But at the centre of the book and film, is the experience which created "Faith" - Yann Martell has said in interviews that his book is about faith and the film with its super-realism, allows us to examine this experience and how it leads Pi to believe in God. The film is of course much shorter and less-detailed than the book - but it has all the essential elements distilled into a few hours of intense experience.
Having this on Blu Ray allows you to replay and re-examine the elements of allegory and how they are interwoven into the story - what does the Tiger represent - what of the Meerkat island and its impossible, perfectly circular lakes - what do they mean? What does the flower with a human tooth represent? This is a film that stands up to re-examination and can even just be viewed as something of a 3D painting - maybe a 3D Turner - in its images of the sea and sky. Coming to faith is a personal experience or journey for every person and this is just one perspective, one story and is nothing to do with organised religion - just one person's story.
Many critics have seen this as the film of the year and this is certainly worth owning in this spectacularly good Blu Ray transfer, with all the extras that add to your understanding of the film and what went into its creation. Possibly the best example of 3D film-making yet - highly recommended