Imagine you were shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger, and imagine you landed on a carnivorous island and you were left to fend for yourself. Do you think you would survive? This is what “Life of Pi” is partly about; it is a film which tells the story of an adventurous and almost surreal journey through courage, strength, hope and the power of faith.
“Life of Pi”, which is based on Yann Martel’s novel, has earned eleven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.
The film starts with an unnamed author who goes to Montreal to meet a man called Pi who is said to have an amazing story to tell. Pi is a philosophy teacher and he tells the story of his own extraordinary life which he began as the son of a zookeeper in India where he became particularly fascinated by a Bengal tiger. As he grows up, Pi is eager to learn about religion and the meaning of life. He rejects his father’s rationalism and creates a personal amalgam of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. After a few years, Pi’s family decide to move from India to Canada where they intend to sell their animals. They set sail but their freighter is struck by a storm and Pi is the only survivor. Alone in the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, he captains a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, a female orangutan and the gigantic Bengal tiger. During the 227 days at sea, Pi finds a modus vivendi with the fierce tiger, endures and wonders at a mighty storm, a squadron of flying fish, a humpbacked whale, a group of dolphins and a night illuminated by luminous jellyfish.
The lifeboat eventually reaches the coast of Mexico and as Pi lies on the beach he sees his tiger disappear into the jungle. Pi is then rescued and taken weeping into hospital. When the insurance agents for the freighter come to interview him they do not believe his story and ask what “really” happened so, to keep them happy, Pi tells them a more believable version and the spectator is left unsure of what really happened on his journey. The film ends with the author glancing at the copy of the insurance report which states that Pi somehow survived 227 days at sea with a tiger.
“Life of Pi” is not an ordinary story and as I left the cinema I almost felt as if I wanted to meet Pi myself and learn about his amazing spiritual and emotional journey where he strove for life.