New Release: Life of Pi
Maybe with the "end of days" approaching in roughly three weeks, the big name filmmakers thought 2012 would be a good year to put religion under the microscope. Ridley Scott went big and bold by having scientists search the universe for mankind's creators, while P.T. Anderson kept it grounded between two exceptionally flawed men. But for me, the only one that has worked is Ang Lee's adaptation of Life of Pi.
During a terrible storm at sea, a teenage boy, Pi (Suraj Sharma), is the sole human survivor of a shipwreck. After losing his entire family, he finds himself helpless in the middle of the ocean on a life boat with nothing but a grown Bengal tiger as his only companion.
Prior to the tragedy, we're given a good deal of backstory on Pi's childhood, particularly his fascination with religion. But not just one religion, three. Raised Hindu by his mother (a choice frowned upon by his atheist father), Pi eventually finds God in a Catholic church, before becoming a Muslim. However, he never rejects one religion for another, but welcomes the teachings of all three. So when he finds himself dying in the ocean, his multiple faiths are equally tested. The film also explores the human spirit and the will to survive in the worst circumstances. And by the end, it's revealed that the struggle to live with one's own actions for that survival are the biggest challenge.
Lee's film is visually delicious as it dishes difficult situations and themes many of us will never have to face or could ever fully understand. It is larger than life, yet still stays on an intimate scale, and it all comes together in the end as a sad, hopeful and beautiful journey.