Sunday, December 2, 2012
3 Thoughts on Life of Pi
1. "Believe the unbelievable" - As an atheist, claiming that this story will make me believe in God, is obviously intriguing. It failed on every level, but I give the writer credit for trying. I really loved the beginning, the way that religion is questioned by the protagonist. He points out that with so many different religions, so many different "Gods", he is unsure of what to believe. His father responds to this with the most amazing advice ever, which is to trust logic and that if you believe everything blindly, then you might as well believe in nothing. Then, the film proceeds to convince us to believe in God (and is never clear on which one), which is ultimately frustrating. This is clearly an allegorical film, dedicated to convincing people that may question their faith, but I doubt it will change the minds of the already decided.
2. It's not for kids or animal lovers- I blame myself for seeing a movie that is marketed as a "family movie" the weekend after Thanksgiving at the Garden State Plaza (one of the largest malls in the country) for the terrible experience I had, due to the insufferable audience members. Not only did I endure someone kicking my seat the entire movie (an adult, for fuck sake), someone in my direct eye sight filming the movie with his phone, and a couple in front of me talking through the entire thing; I also had to listen to kids crying because they were absolutely terrified. I can't argue with the PG rating, but that doesn't necessarily make it appropriate for children. I would have been traumatized if I had seen this movie at a young age (considering that I am a little traumatized by it as an adult). Just consider for a moment, that there were other animals that were rescued by that small life boat and you can guess what happens to them when they try to co-exist with a tiger. When the kids were not being traumatized, I am sure that they were bored out of their mind. The themes of spirituality and self-discovery would probably go right over their head, as would the jokes about the mathematical value of "Pi" and Columbus setting sail to India. As an animal lover, I find the movie terribly offensive. The message that the film sends - that what separates humans from animals is a "soul", and that animals have no feelings, it's just humans projecting their own feelings on to them, is a HORRIBLE message to send. Certain animals, like tigers, are not meant to be caged or domesticated (or trapped on a life boat in the middle of the ocean), so it may seem like they are "soul-less" but I refuse to believe that is true. It's also convenient story-telling that the family are vegetarians (separating themselves from carnivorous "animals") but most humans are not vegetarians, so what message is that sending about humanity? It's all a little contradictory and insulting (even to a fellow vegetarian).
3. "Unfilmable" - Technically, the movie is spectacular. I didn't see it in 3D, which I only regret slightly because I doubt it would be worth the headache, but even in regular old 2D, it was stunning. However, as visually exciting as it was, it felt really superficial. With all of the effects (especially the CG created tiger) and the bold, intense colors, it loses it's realism and turns pure fantasy. It doesn't really work for a story that tries so desperately to be "believable", but then again, to make it a "believable" story it would have to be a little more gritty and I think that version would be truly "unfilmable". I didn't hate the movie as much as this post may let on; I was in awe of it's beauty and scope, fully engaged in the story and impressed by the effort. It's just not my type of movie, I guess.