Finally, finally I got to see this movie. I promised myself that I would after I finished writing the introduction to my thesis, but then there was the apartment hunting trip and shitting myself over getting my novella written and whoops Christmas, so it didn't happen until now.
Worth the wait. And despite the fact that it was released back in November, the theater was still pretty crowded for a noon show.
Life of Pi is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Every shot of it was its own paradise, gorgeous and full of color. And the tiger. Holy shit the tiger. CGI has come a long, long way.
Beyond how visually arresting I found the film, there is a lot to love. Suraj Sharma is just fantastic as Pi. And have I mentioned the tiger? Beyond how believable the Richard Parker was, what I loved was that he never stopped being an animal, and a wild animal at that. Pi and Richard Parker achieve an understanding of sorts, but there's always that gap of understanding between animal and man. The tiger never stops being a wild animal, even at the end when it walks away from Pi and into the jungle without a backward glance.
That was the part of the movie that made me tear up, when the tiger simply walks away and Pi still desperately asserts that he saw the animal's soul and it wasn't just his own feelings reflected back at him. So much of the movie is about the gap of understanding between humans, animals, and nature in general.
And then there is the alternate story that Pi offers as to what happened, opening the possibility that the tiger is an aspect of Pi himself. I like unreliable narrator stories when they're done well, and this one definitely was. In the end, you get to decide for yourself, which story is true. For my part, I think that both are.
In the movie, they say the story will make you believe in God. I knew about that going in and was a bit curious about it, since... well, not a believer, myself. I wondered if it would be preachy, perhaps. It wasn't; you'd hardly expect a Catholic Hindu Muslim to be grinding an ax for one religion anyway. But beyond that, to me it wasn't a story about religion or even belief; it was about trying to understand the unknowable, like the tiger, looking into its eyes and never being quite certain if it's just a reflection or a reality you can't quite touch.
Some might call that religion. I would just call it life.