Life of Pi | Teen Ink

Life of Pi

December 31, 2013
By Caesar123 DIAMOND, Union Grove, Wisconsin
Caesar123 DIAMOND, Union Grove, Wisconsin
50 articles 7 photos 103 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Madness in great ones must not unwatched go" --Claudius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

I will admit, when I first saw previews for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi I was not impressed. What I saw in those commercials did not stand out from any other films being screened in the typical fall dumping ground. A boy stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger sure, sounds interesting. But when put to practical application, you begin to wonder, is this really possible? To see the shimmering whales, and the many different colored fish, and all of the exotic animals, you had to question whether or not the entire movie was just one big light show with little or no substance behind it. Such reasons are why I stayed away from the theaters when it came out in September of 2012. And now, I am glad to say that I made a rather serious mistake.

The movie opens with a grown Indian man, living in Montreal, recounting a nice chunk of his life’s story to a slightly down-on-his-luck novelist who has been living in French India for a time. It was in India where this writer met with a man that he came to know as “Mamaji”, a man with broad shoulders and skinny legs. In the café where they meet, Mamaji tells the writer that there is an Indian living in French Canada, who has a story worthy of a novel. The novelist (a man by the name Yann Martel) meets with Mamaji’s contact, the French Indian known as Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel. As the two sit down to converse over lunch, Pi begins his story.

It begins with a brief retelling of the first few years of Pi’s life from his birth (in the Pondicherry zoo operated by his father) to how he got his name (from a French swimming pool that was a favorite of Mamaji’s). In the exposé, Yann gets a view into Pi’s early years, from favorite crushes, to his fervent devotion to his faith. However, the story really gets interesting in Pi’s sixteenth year of life.

Pi’s father, the head of the Patel family, realizes that the zoo is losing money, and losing it fast. In order to break even, Pi’s father decides to sell the zoo animals, and move to Canada. He claims that they can even get passage on the same cargo ship that is to take the animals.

Upon reaching the edge of Asia, and similarly the edge of the Pacific Ocean, a thunderstorm hits Pi’s ship, the Tsimtsum. Pi begs his brother to go out on deck with him and watch the lightning, but he returns Pi’s pleas with excuses to go back to sleep. Pi goes up alone, and seems to be enjoying himself in the wind and rain, until an alarm sounds on the boat. Worried, Pi makes his way back inside, hoping to reach his family and warn them that something’s wrong. Instead, he finds the corridor to his family’s room flooded with water, and realizes the ship is sinking. In a blind panic, Pi returns to the deck, looking for help, only to find the few available hands already unloading a lifeboat into the churning waters. Pi begs them to help him get his family out, but instead winds up in the boat, which eventually crashes into the water when an escaped zebra attempts to jump aboard and breaks its leg. Pi hangs on for dear life in the storm, and eventually passes out in the wild of the storm. The Tsimtsum sinks below the waves.

When Pi awakens he realizes that he’s not the only survivor of the shipwreck. Not only has the zebra survived the night, but so have a hyena, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger known comically as Richard Parker. What ensues from this point forward is nothing short of epic, as Pi must learn to share the tiny space the lifeboat provides with the other animals (especially the carnivores), find food from both the boats supplies and the ocean itself, and somehow make it to land in one piece.

I found Life of Pi, entertaining, amusing at times, and its deepest, heartwarming. It is a story that will not only entertain you, but also make you rethink (or maybe even reaffirm) both the course of your life, and the purpose of your faith. The ending was completely satisfactory, leaving an open air of mystery that I can only compare to that of The Nutcracker. Perhaps an odd comparison when one goes on to win four Academy Awards, and the other becomes a perennial Christmas favorite, but if you take a look at Life of Pi I can assure that you will not be disappointed. It’s a story with many themes, many motifs, and a little something for everyone. If you haven’t taken the liberty of seeing Ang Lee’s award winning work, I urge that you do. You’ll be glad that you did.

I rate it 5/5 stars.

The author's comments:
As I say in the piece, this wasn't a movie I was dieing to see when it was first released. However, now I am happy to say that I was mistaken.

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