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Monday

Life of Pi Explained

What is the meaning of the Life of Pi? - WARNING SPOILERS

Are all the critics crazy?  I feel like I am one of the few people that walked away from this film feeling empty and disturbed.  

I have been learning some computer graphics- 3D modeling as of late, and was very excited to see "Life of Pi".  I gladly plunked down almost 40 bucks to get a couple of tickets for the opening night 3D screening.  So lets get this out of the way, we all know the film is visually stunning, in fact I think it should win an Oscar for visual effects and cinematography, but the story was bold enough to tell me that by the end, "I would believe in God".  Even though it was off to a slow start, that line hooked me.  I'm in.  Lets do this, bring on the tiger tale.

Several minutes later, uggh, are we still cutting back to the house with the writer?  Do I really need to know about kids teasing him for his name and a few elementary piss jokes.  I was ready to forgive the meandering story, which in essence is, "A guy gets stuck on a boat with a tiger, or wait, no surprise he's a murdering psychopath that has created an elaborate story to protect him from the truth."  Roll credits.

Now here's where most of you will be getting upset, and I have not read the book, maybe it did a better job of telling the story, but the filmmaker has given me a choice of what story I might prefer to choose.  Well it's a lot easier to prefer the one with a muti million dollar visual effects budget, though it still doesn't give me any theological revelations.  

You see when Pi tells the story of himself killing a man that killed his mother on a boat out of anger/revenge, the filmmaker allows us to see his face and not flash back to the story.  In real life, this is one of the ways we discern if someone is lying or not.  And the actor does a damn good job of looking like he is telling the truth as he tells us of his murderous tale.  Then the film goes on to hit us over the head with the obvious parallels to the animals which I'm sure most movie goers have already figured out several minutes before.

The Christian Science Monitor to says this,


"The real question is – which story do you, the viewer/reader prefer? Interpretation is subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of theological reflection. Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that always make sense/things that you can see? Or are you a person that prefers to believe in miracles/take things on faith?"   Okay, which story makes more sense?  The tiger story remains to be based in reality, except for the whole magic island bit that any rational person might chalk up to hallucinations, yet I think the more difficult story to believe might be the one where someone implicates themselves for murder unnecessarily.  But the frustrating thing is neither of these stories give me any revelations.

I love when films find the truth, but this film seemed to avoid the truth, posing a hollow question, when you dont know the correct answer do you choose to believe in what appears to be true or what seems to be fantasy?  And the answer... if you are a writer or filmmaker you gravitate to the fantasy, if you are investigating the truth for insurance, you go after the truth.  

My girlfriend who can cry at a cartoon was even left unaffected by Pi, and with all of the dead end backstory it felt like there was a huge missed opportunity for the story to empathetically connect Pi with the audience in this visually stunning adventure.  Now all of the above is my opinion and therefore it is MY truth, I encourage you to argue with it in the comments.  Please, I would love to be persuaded that I "missed the boat" on this one.  I was hoping for a new layer to the Science vs Faith argument.  The one where most scientists define faith as "believing in something that hasn't been proven to be the truth", not that that is always a bad thing.  Maybe we can have a happier life by choosing to believe in a more optimistic point of view.  But neither of his tales were heartwarming or optimistic.  For me it was a huge let down, as it promised a spiritual experience and delivered the story of a creepy murderer who has created false fantastical memories.  Nuff said.

Pie chart from www.film.com  Please tell us what the Life of Pi meant to you in the comment section.
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