Life of Pi (US-Taiwan-Aus-UK-Can, 2012)

FInding God? Don't think so.

Finding God? Don’t think so.

I didn’t get on with Yann Martel’s novel so I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t ‘get’ Ang Lee’s take on it. Harry Cohn, mogul at Columbia during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’, stated that if his ass started itching the movie was no good. My ass started itching 90 minutes into Pi which probably says more about my attention span than the movie.

CGI films tend to leave me cold, my concentration is is deflected by the glossy sheen of digital images and this film is ‘special effect’ heavy. However, they are at the service of the narrative, which apparently is intended to convince us of the existence of God. It was setting itself an impossible task. The CGI tiger (it is real only 14% of the time) is, however, utterly convincingly; visual-effects supervisor, Bill Westenhofer, has done a stunning job. The sea, however, as usual, is much less than real; though much of it was shot in a tank in Taiwan.

Some of the imagery was stunning, particularly the utterly still sea, and the lead, newcomer Suraj Sharma, is as good as the tiger. The film’s an interesting example of the internationalisation of cinema: Canadian source material; Taiwanese director; Gerard Depardieu cameos; American scriptwriter (David Magee); Chilean cinematographer (Claudio Miranda); in addition to the five countries cited above as producers. The $120m production budget requires a worldwide audience; currently it’s taken $214m in total.

The group I was with enjoyed the film; I was thinking of the curry we were eating afterwards.

5 Responses

  1. 3D or not? I enjoyed it more than you but saw it in 3D and am not at all sure that it added anything. I’ve not seen many 3D films but if this is meant to be a good example of its use then I won’t bother in future. For me, it distances rather than immerses and becomes a barrier to my enjoyment. I’m very much in the Kermode camp on this one.

  2. 3D. I’m with you, and Kermode; it’s a distraction. I’m pretty sure, like subtitles, I forget I’m watching (reading) 3D after a few minutes.

  3. I’m still thinking about the film. Perhaps Nick, you are (as usual?) getting too hung up on the religious angle? There is a long tradition of shipwreck/survivor stories and it made me think of Sinbad the Sailor from The Arabian Nights. I can’t imagine that I would like the book but any movie with Irrfan Khan and the Goddess Tabu is OK by me – I enjoyed the Indian scenes the most.

    I saw the 3D version from the front row of Cubby (every seat sold!) and I thought that at times the 3D effects worked very well but often perhaps only as beautiful images. There were times when I forgot I was wearing the glasses.

    Where did you find the Australian part of the production? I’m tempted to describe it as a Taiwan/India/Canada production.

    . . err, Ang Lee is Taiwanese not Korean (but Lee/Ree is a common Korean name)

  4. Thanks for the correction; I know Lee’s Taiwanese (I’ve amended the error) so I don’t know what happened there! Australia’s mentioned in the ‘Sight and Sound’ credits.

  5. […] Life of Pi (US-Taiwan-Aus-UK-Can, 2012) […]

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