09 December 2012


This much raved about movie is not the usual movie that one would read about or watch. Based on a novel of the same title, this movie was directed by the famous Lee Ang.

It is only after watching it that one realizes how strange or unique the story is about. It tells the tale of a middle aged man recounting his story to a writer about an indian boy's adventures after being stranded at sea when the ship his whole family were on shipwrecked in a thunderstorm. I didn't read the novel so everything I saw was first hand and I couldn't compare how true to the novel the movie was.

The boy was named after a swimming pool in France and shortened his name to Pi to avoid being ridiculed by his classmates. His family opened a zoo and he lived in the company of all the interesting and even strange animals, including a Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker". That is, until one fine day when his father announced that the family will be moving to Canada, where he intended to sell away the zoo animals, to seek out a better future. Pi was a strange boy, much unlike any other. He was raised as a Hindu, discovered and embraced Christianity followed by Islam and felt that everything that happened to him were signs from God himself.

Unfortunately, the thunderstorm took everything and he was the only human survivor aboard a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang utan and the untamed Richard Parker. That was when the adventure for the 16 year old began when after the hyena killed the zebra and orang utan, Richard Parker pounced onto and killed the hyena and he had to fend himself against the increasingly hungry tiger. He resorted to all sorts of methods to hunt and stay alive, to feed himself and the tiger. The constant need to be alert to prevent Richard Parker from eating him was the only motivation that kept him alive although he managed to somewhat tame Richard Parker.

From there on, all the mysterious and sinister things happened. From the luminous thousands of jellyfishes in the ocean, to the giant glowing whale that fed and leapt out of the water, to the thousands of deep sea creatures, to the thousands of flying fishes gliding through the air, to the floating island with thousands of meerkats, the images sent chills down my spine. I have never been fond of the deep dark ocean and vowed never to die or to have my ashes scattered at sea. When I take flights, I am more worried of the plane crashing into the ocean than of the plane crash itself. I cannot imagine myself lying for eternity at the bottom of the ocean where light doesn't reach and where weird and ugly creatures are the only company I may have. I know I would be dead by then but I feel my soul would never be at peace if it does happen. Then, there were the strange, black hollow-eyed and sinister-looking meerkats staring at Pi. They may look cute but their collective gaze is more unsettling than anything.

Eventually, Pi and the tiger reached the coast of Mexico after more than 200 days at sea. What upset and disappointed Pi most before he lost consciousness was when he saw Richard Parker gazing at the forest before him and disappeared into it without turning back to glance at him one last time. At the present time, Pi was married and left the writer with his amazing tale of god's will and his adventures.

Lee Ang was fantastic in the story telling, entranced me with the many CGI computer effects and evoked my deepest and darkest irrational fear of the unknown. Even monster, alien and ghost movies don't do that to me anymore but this movie did. That was as sinister as it could get for me. I was both amazed and deeply disturbed at the same time.