Having read the book before the movie, I was curious as to how the movie would translate. (Read my book review here: https://vickychong.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/life-of-pi-by-yann-martel/.) Would it be similar to what I have imagined as I read the book? Would it be better? Would it explained the metaphor behind the story that I had missed reading the book?
The story tells the life of Pi, a teenager who grew up in a zoo in India who was cast away in a lifeboat together with a Bangal tiger. How he survived living with a tiger in the middle of the ocean and lived to tell the tale is the gist of the story.
While I went away from the movie without seeing the metaphor behind, the movie did not disappoint. Ang Lee managed to capture the essence of the book and at the same time, spared us the gory detail of the animals killing each other that was described in the book. While the author is vivid in describing the protagonist’s frustrations about the lack, and then the abundance of food, this had not been clear in the film. I was waiting for the mouse incident as described in the book : I grabbed the rat and threw it his way. I can see it in my mind as it sailed through the air – its outstretched claws and erect tail, it’s tiny elongated scrotum and pinpoint anus. RP opened his mouth and the squealing rat disappeared into it like a baseball into a catcher’s mitt. Its hairless tail vanishes like a spaghetti noodle sucked into a mouth. While Lee Ang did capture it in the movie in a few seconds’ clip, the beauty of the description by the author as it happened would have been lost to movie goers.
Suraj Sharma was much stronger and bigger as a 17-year old Pi than in my imagination . His relationship with the tiger, Richard Parker was well depicted in the movie as Pi tries to tame him. The scene where RP lays dying was touching, as you see RP transformed from a majestic Bangal Tiger with luscious fur to skin and bones. The man-eating island was featured in the movie as looking like a man lying down, something I was not aware of.
Ang Lee, as always, managed to make a beautiful movie – the opening scene with the music score was a captivating start to the film. The ending though, was forgettable.
If you have seen the film, my suggestion is to read the book. And vice versa.