I'd vividly recommending reading the book. The film is very good, but the novel is epic - one of the most well-written, enthralling and powerful novels I've ever read, it's brilliant.
As a jaded film nerd, I think I've seen every narrative device there is. This movie actually did something to me which hasn't happened in a long while, it mesmerized me. How do I know this? Simple, my mouth dries out when I've been gaping for a couple of hours, and not blinking dries my contacts out, neck gets tight cause I'm as motionless as a lizard on the beach in Cancun (I hate those things).
After reading several reviews, I noticed that some of the strongest reactions came from those who view the universe as ordered, mystical and guided by the benevolent hand of Providence. In The Life of Pi
, some of the world's major religions are sampled by the protagonist (motifs for seeking truth and meaning), and his tumultuous and miraculous voyage at sea is followed by his physical salvation when he's rescued. Pi, now an older and wiser man, having lost all, is rewarded with the joy and comfort of family. He's had everything restored to him.
Striking parallels with Old Testament Job, who like Pi, lost his family and his wealth, was put through incredible suffering due to sickness, and while despairing of life, was ultimately restored in the end by Providence. I had a vision of Jonah, when he was gobbled up by the friendly whale and spit unto shore, to safety, and even secular literature such as Coleridge's: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
. That poem also dealt with the theme of trial at sea, and the journey from naive youth to wisdom gained through suffering. All of the major religions have the theme of "trial by fire."
The possible explanations of what really happened with Pi at sea, and his, and our confusion in the recalling of the events, is a symbol for the difficulty in understanding the mysterious workings of Providence, or a higher power. We cannot get a true grasp of the ultimate reality because we are finite, mortal and ultimately very limited beings. As insects cannot grasp our reality, so we cannot understand the mysteries of life, especially the workings of Providence. Even our attempts to explain the simple aspects of life are PATHETIC at best. What we perceive may not be the ultimate reality--existential philosophy. And, does a potentially omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being see things differently from how we see things? Is that
the ultimate measure for what is real? I'd like to think so...Can
we, and will
we know all the answers one day and see reality for what it really is? Hmmm.
Those who view the universe as Kubrick did, and other nihilists do, as indifferent, or as a lonely place, or meaningless, may find little satisfaction in The Life of Pi
. Those who see the guiding Hand, and the sublime and powerful intervention of Providence, will have goosebumps on the backs of their necks!
I never read the book, but this is my take on the movie, and I enjoy how the ambiguity of the film inspires my worldview! All good art does that because it doesn't patronize and beat you ever the head with a rigid explanation.
5 juicy red Sicilian tomatoes out of 5