Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rational and religion: "The Life of Pi"

If there is one credit I should give to this film, it is the stunning imagery and cinematography that deserves a standing ovation.

With that said, the Ang Lee masterpiece is one of this year's nominated best film for the 2013 Oscar Awards. And in the great tradition of Ang Lee films ("Broke Back Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), is a cinematic masterpiece based on the novel written by Yann Martel on a deeply drawn internal finding of a young man with himself and God.

The story revolves around Piscine Patel, later renamed Pi and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The movie begins with Pi telling his life story to a writer who wanted to tell the story of Pi's survival after 227 days at sea. The interspersed humor and dark candor is brilliantly woven into the thematic plot that makes one so immersed that you felt you part of the ocean below or the stars and clouds above watching them.

In a nutshell, Pi was born and raised in India where the family ran a boutique hotel that housed a zoo. As economy challenged the country, Pi's father decided to migrate to Canada to start life anew. They would bring most of the zoo animals and sell them to the Canadian government and use the money for life there. During the voyage by sea, after crossing Manila, the ship meets a storm at the Marianas Strait and it sinks. Pi's family dies in the tragedy and in a life boat are the survivors of the drama that unfolds - Pi, an Orangutan (named Orange Juice), a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Between the vast sea and the wild animals on the life boat unfolds the quest for survival of the fittest. It is in this magnificent moment that draws the finest part of the film so dramatically displays several moments where Pi comes to terms with Richard Parker and God and ultimately ends in the delicately heart-tugging climax in Mexico.

Of course we know how the story ends for Pi because he is the story teller. The poetry and stunning display of technological symmetry of the beauty and horror of the sea is a testament to Ang Lee's brilliance in cinematic drama. To use the word stunning and awe would be an understatement here.

But the movie revolves around Pi. And we are not much different from Pi in the many days of our lives. No matter what age you are, you will relate to Pi - in the search for answers to our faith, the assurances of our fears, and answers to our doubts.

It is in Pi's search to answers to the many questions to God in his life that at the end of the movie makes you agree that there is a God. And God, no matter how ugly life can good and simply beautiful.

And I can relate to that.

[image from Life of Pi - Facebook page]

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