I’m on a quest to see all the movies Academy Awards Nominees for Best Picture. Here’s my review for Life of Pi *Contains Spoilers*
Life of Pi was beautiful. I just saw the film and I can see why it was nominated for Best Picture.
Much like the title suggests, Life of Pi is the story of a big adventure, and the life leading up to it, of a boy named Pi. He dubbed himself Pi in grade school because of the target that his full name, Piscine, made him for torturous teasing (Pissing). He declared on the first day of school that he would be “known to all as Pi”, explaining the significance of the mathematical figure and writing the number out in its entirety (almost), impressing students and teachers alike and becoming a school legend. Which turned out to be a theme of his life.
I can’t let this go. Because I don’t remember a lot of mathematics from school, but I remember Pi. Everyone does. IT is a legend! And Pi is an irrational number and also a transcendental number. I would argue that Pi, our protagonist, is also both of these things. Here is a quick Wikipedia article on all the different forms of “transcendence” (religion and math are the top two, go figure.) Anyway, I thought this was pretty rad and tied in nicely with the film. (And don’t we all love feeling we’re somehow smarter because we’ve picked up on the significance of clues the artist gives?)
The first portion of the movie documented his upbringing, family and religious template. A practicing Hindu-Christian-Muslim, Pi found his way through each religion, keeping bits of every one with him. It was fascinating to me to explore this idea of subscribing to more than one religion. In the society I find myself living in, you have a religion or you don’t. Just one. And the ideological differences seem so vast and people seem so separate and so segregated from one another that this picture of multiple religions living and flourishing in one being was like a firework of original thought.
I liked the disagreement between Pi and his
Parents Father. Father believed in logic and rational thought above all, telling his son that religion is dark, that one shouldn’t practice one religion, and certainly couldn’t have more than one. The reason this resonated so much with me is that while Pi, the thoughtful protagonist of our story grabbed my attention and got me to root for him almost instantly, in real life I’m on Dad’s level.
I’m not religious, was never brought up in a religious home, but I would say that much of my family “has a relationship with God” or is spiritual in some ways or at least believes. When I was younger I went back and forth and ultimately became convinced that if God was real he would know that I was only pretending to believe and only just in case. I figured if there was someone up there he wouldn’t appreciate my farce or following, so I kind of gave up on it. I suppose now that I’m older I’d be more up to exploring the issue, and I’d love learning about different religions.
But what’s always held me up is exactly what Pi’s father brought to the table. Darkness. Like why is everyone killing in the name of God? How the hell (oops pun-drop) does that even happen? And why does it seem like every strict interpretation of religion=no fun? WHY? You put me here to what—work at some job and give money to church and have kids (in heterosexual wedlock) so they can do the same thing? So I “sinned” (which I wouldn’t have done if you had created me the way you wanted me) and now I have to what go to Hell for it? Or can I just give money to the church? Either way it sucks. Okay (since we’re here) how are priests born normal people and then go to priest school and all of a sudden they’re spitting the words of God like they had coffee with him yesterday. Really? Why, if being gay is a sin, are there so many gays? If he made us all why didn’t he work on that part? Gay people exist in every single tiny section of the globe. Literally everywhere. Very quick example.
Anyway, in addition to this darkness and hypocrisy that seem to be easily found when examining organized religions, there is also a lack of logic and of reason that doesn’t sit well with someone like me. I suppose this point was illustrated above where I feel the need to keep asking “why”. One of my legal studies professors said something in class one day which has become my all-time favorite quote: “If you can’t defend it, you’re not right.” This is literally how my thought process works. This is how I function. So when the “hows” and the “whys” don’t have good, solid answers…How do you believe them? And why?
Seeing the interaction between Pi and his father was great for me. Because I could identify with both of them. What Pi did was at the same time strictly religious and highly unorthodox. It was brilliant. And he had reasons for each thing he believed. Maybe I took something from it, because I’ve been thinking a lot about this religious aspect ever since.
Pi recounts the story of his great adventure to a writer. “It’s a story that will make you believe in God.”
And I suppose it could. But at the end there’s a little gotcha moment and I was left wondering who was right…Pi or
me his dad.
So on this journey Pi finds himself without family, without friends, without anyone-except a Bengal tiger-lost at sea. The movie follows his dangerous and desperate journey through storms, and seas and near starvation. And of course terror of being killed by his shipmate.
Shit. Goes. Bad. Like everything is going horribly for Pi. And I hate saying it, but I was way more invested in the movie in the first half (through the first couple disasters at sea) of the movie. I HATE saying it because I really liked the movie a lot, but the incredible things that were happening to him, at a point, become sort of redundant. Am I a lazy American viewer? Maybe. I appreciate each of the things that happened to him, but the movie was two hours and it felt like three.
That being said, let’s get to one of the best things about this film. I need to talk about the magnificence of the cinematography. Every scene is a visual indulgence. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I could have smoked a bowl and watched the thing on mute like a 2003 Windows Media Player sound Visualizer (you remember those right?) I mean it was completely synthesized and computerized and edited and whatever other terms apply….I don’t even know if a single scene was shot with real people in a real location or if it was all done on a green screen in a studio. But I DON’T CARE. It was, in addition to being a thoughtful (thought-provoking) film, a display of artistry. And I ate that shit up.
All in all I’m gonna give the Life of Pi a thumbs up and recommend that you see it if you haven’t. Let me know what YOU think. Also, if you have the answers to eternity, please feel free to tell me what’s up.
Thanks for reading!