By Van Nguyen
HANOI, Vietnam – “The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity; it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.”
This conviction is food for thought that the author mentions at the beginning of the soulful, 2002 novel, Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Taking inspiration from Martel’s novel, the original film led many fans to protest because they thought the movie was impossible with such a story montage. However, director Ang Lee has done an excellent job; not only does Life of Pi successfully convey a humanitarian message, but it also urges all viewers to cling to their hopes even in seemingly insurmountable situations.
The plot of Life of Pi seems to be typical and simple, but what is happening in that plot is the real art. Pi is a special boy with a special name, a special interest in religion, and a special life.
The turning point is when he is at the age of 17 and his parents decide to immigrate to Canada for a change. Everything crushes to pieces after the ship sinks, leaving Pi, a tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an ape stranded at sea.
Pi willfully continues the journey with his reluctant fellows. He has to utilize his knowledge of wildlife and survival instinct to fight against ferocious animals, to courageously face the loneliness, the fear, and the lurking danger.
“Admiration” maybe the word many viewers want to use when talking about Lee after seeing the film.
Lee, a prestigious filmmaker of famous works such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Lust Caution, The Ice Storm and more, has created a masterpiece. The great thing here is how Lee approaches and presents the story in a totally distinct direction.
In the film, Pi tells two stories to investigators. One is full of thrilling adventures, somehow unrealistic and bizarre, but still tugs at our heartstrings when we clearly feel the existence of God silently blessing Pi through the waves.
The other is about the survival of Pi. Though harsh, cruel and arduous, it is based on the naked truth, not fiction. Perhaps this story is better than the first one, as anyone hearing both stories believes more in it. Ultimately, which of the two stories mirrors reality?
It’s a question each audience member has to answer individually after seeing Life of Pi.
Extraordinary technical skills may be one of the factors that most contributes to the film’s success. Through the language of cinema and superb 3D technology, Lee recounts the surreal adventures of an Indian boy in an intense manner, sending the audience to overwhelming excitement.
Viewers are mesmerized by the stunning scenery – iridescent ocean, spectacular sea, spiraling fish, mysterious jellyfish, bright dawn sky or sparkling night sky with thousands of stars, furious storm, and the cannibal island with innumerable Meerkats. The amazing 3D techniques illuminate both the depth of reflection and the mood of the characters.
All animals in this movie are largely due to the wonderful creation of advanced digital computer generated imagery; perhaps even keen theater-goers do not realize anything fake.
Life of Pi is also fruitful in the construction of the love between humans and animals. After a while, we realize the tiger Richard Parker does not see Pi as a victim, a prey or a boss, but as a friend. And even in the second story that Pi imparts, we realize Pi uses the tiger image as a metaphor for him, for an endless willpower exists within the mathematical meaning of his name.
Stringing all the events Pi experiences together, it seems that they all focus on one thing: Pi’s sincerity has tamed the fierce beast.
With shimmering 3D technology and talented actors, Life of Pi has undeniably brought enriching experiences to audiences throughout the world and deserves to earn a place among Oscar-winners.