Life Of Pi Review – an award winning adaptation of the award winning novel

Life Of Pi Review – an award winning adaptation of the award winning novel

Life of Pi is philosophical Bildungsroman novel by Yann Martel, first published in 2001. It won the Man Booker Price in 2002 and has sold over 10 million copies. One episode to note is that former American president Barack Obama famously wrote a letter to Martel saying that Life of Pi is “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”. At the time of writing, there has been one film adaptation of the novel and that was by acclaimed Taiwanese American film director Ang Lee in 2012. The movie was a critical and financial success. It won 4 Academy Awards – Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score – and was the highest grossing film in India for that
year. David Magee’s film screenplay earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Plot

After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, the Patel family (two parents and their sons) board a ship together with some remaining animals from the zoo. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi, as the only human survivor. Pi manages to find refuge on a lifeboat. However he’s not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger, who Pi calls “Richard Parker” has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive. Then there’s the third and final act which .. well… gives a different perspective on the things we have experienced in the first two acts. But I will stop there 🙂


I did an school essay scrutinizing the movie adaptation of the novel and my conclusion is that movie adheres to the same themes, characters and main messages of the novel. The main themes are survival, dealing with trauma, the argument of rationality vs irrationality and the relationship of humans with animals. One difference between the novel and the movie is the fact that the movie is rated PG so tones down the brutality of animals killing or feeding on each other. Then there’s also a love story which is not present in the novel and its addition adds practically nothing to the main plot.

But is it any good? It is so much more than good, this is a unique philosophical movie. This is a journey where we join the young Pi through this adventure full of fun, drama, emotions, threats and unbelievable experiences. This is a movie that mixes fantasy with reality and is full of metaphysical and philosophical notions. But then comes the beauty of this movie – it is an allegorical tale that at the same time it is easy to follow. One needs to note the fact that this movie visually stunning and is heavenly scored. This is quite an achievement in filmmaking and storytelling.

The Greek letter ‘Pi’ or ‘π’ is a mix of the rational: Pi being the number you get if you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter – and the irrational: it is an infinite number of digits that have no patterns. The same can be said about Pi and his journey. The same can be said about life.

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