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Life of Pi (2012) Movie Review

November 23, 2012

In a lifetime we go through many phases. We get to view most of these phases through the eyes of one character in “Life of Pi” as he tells the story of his life. His childhood search for meaning is beautiful as he embraces Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam. I was greatly inspired by the boy’s quick understanding of how God is present to us in different ways both in the different understandings we get of Him through religion and the different ways that small things in our life help us to realize what is important. The young man finds his way on a boat that is meant to take him from India to Canada, along with a number of animals from his father’s zoo.

The boat goes down somewhere along the way in the middle of a powerful storm, leaving the boy stranded on a life boat with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger. The sinking ship is one of the most powerful scenes in the movie and looks amazing in 3D. The 3D in the film is some of the best I have seen on screen since the recent re-emergence of 3D. Some of the most enjoyable scenes that make the best use of 3D involve animals. The film opens with a delightful scene showing a number of animals wandering around India. Then, on the life boat, the interactions of the animals stranded with young Pi are a marvel to behold. Further on, there are a few other breathtaking moments, including a number of open ocean vistas and some lush greenery on the coast of Mexico.

One of the characters in “Life of Pi,” the older Pi telling the story of his journey to America, describes his tale as one that will make the listener believe in God. While this may not be true for all viewers, the journey is a wonder to behold and highly memorable. While the film does drag at times while Pi makes his ocean voyage in the life boat, it always manages to give the impression that it will be worth holding on to see what comes next. Indeed, in many ways the impatience you feel on the boat is a powerful manifestation of the solitude and loss of hope that Pi must have felt at times on his journey.

The music in the film was composed by Mychael Danna. It delivers a spiritual essence in the form of various vocalists, the traditional Indian singer at the beginning, and the young boy singing as Pi makes his way to safety. For much of the time on the boat, the music dials back and mostly disappears. This makes it all the more welcoming when it re-appears as Pi discovers a mysterious island full of Meercats. The score is at times exotic and at other times French (through the use of accordion) or hopeful. In all scenes, it lifts the film to new heights.

Many may be wondering if the film can stand up to the lofty expectations one might have after having read the book. My friend who saw the film with me read the book and said it was everything she hoped for. “Life of Pi” is a magical journey that at times enters the realm of the spiritual. The majestic scenery is made more moving by the fantastic use of 3D. If you get nothing else out of “Life of Pi,” you will likely leave the theater better able to appreciate the blessings in your life. It is fitting, then, that the film was released on Thanksgiving weekend and that I saw it on Black Friday.

Though we can never fully understand the majesty of God, “Life of Pi” at times provides a glimpse into the mysterious unknown. Whether you call it magic, mysticism, or spirituality, there is something powerful about the journey that can never be fully explained. Perhaps that is what makes it such a worthy journey.

4.5/5

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From → Drama, Magical

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