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Monday, 18 March 2013


This is worth it for the visuals. Pi is an Indian boy who is shipwrecked and cast adrift on a life boat in the Pacific Ocean. Bizarrely, a tiger which had also been on the ship, ends up on the raft with Pi. And the majority of the film is concerned with their travails and adventures, the battle between the two individuals for supremacy, and Pi's simple struggle to stay alive.
The story itself is extraordinary up to a point, but slowly becomes a little limited. With only Pi and the tiger on screen for so long, it soon became one-dimensional. The message too, such as it is, is preachy. Pi is a practicing Hindu, Christian and Muslim - at the same time - and the religious references are overt though pretty wishy-washy. According to Pi, the fact that he survived in such terrible circumstances is proof that God exists. Of course his family has all just drowned, and he doesn't explain why God didn't save them.

Still, the film manages, for the most part, to avoid sentimentality. The relationship between the boy and the tiger does change and develop, but they thankfully never become best friends, and the tiger is not deprived of his animal nature. Right up until close to the end there is a danger of him eating Pi, and this keeps the tension high.

And, as I said, the film is visually beautiful. It is in its treatment of the natural world that it is most impressive, many of the scenes are set up like paintings. In the first part it is the colour and vibrancy of India that is most striking, in the second half the life of the sea takes over, and there are truly remarkable images as Pi floats through the Pacific. Two in particular stand out. One is when he gets caught in a shoal of flying fish, the fish slapping and battering him as he stands up to try and get his hands on a larger, meatier fish that has accidentally fallen in the boat. We see the shoal moving, and the fish skimming the waves and then rising out of the water to try and avoid Pi as he stands in his raft.

The second scene is the one with the luminous jellyfish, the sea alive with this eerie green light, even though it is night-time. Pi, momentarily, feels a great joy at this natural wonder he has stumbled over, and the pictures of the phenomenon are really remarkable, the glowing sea creatures surrounding the boat and lighting the sea with their bodies. It is for the visual impact of these scenes - especially on the big screen - that the film should be seen.


  1. I read the book long time ago and I love it. I never though about watching the film ( we all know why) but maybe worth it this time ;-)

  2. Definitely worth it if you liked the book. The film looks beautiful.


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