Ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped on a lifeboat thousands of miles away from land with a savage, hungry Bengal tiger for company?
You have?!! Well you must go and see ‘The Life of Pi’ then, the brilliant new adaptation of Yann Martel’s best selling book.
By turns touching, gripping and plain stunning the film succeeds in absolutely nailing the book, while still being visually arresting.
In the Q&A with the cast and director I saw after the film Ang Lee was honest enough to admit that when he read the book the last thing he thought about was adapting it. It seemed very much a literary work rather than a mainstream movie.
Yet he labored for 4 years to get it made. I suspect that this has a lot to do with one of the themes of the book. The relationship between stories and ‘truth’, something a filmmaker must wrestle with every time they make a movie.
As everyone one knows’ movie truth’ is different from ‘real life truth’. There are things we are prepared to accept on screen (like a tiger in a lifeboat) that we would never accept in ‘real’ life.
Sometimes people will talk about how a movie that adapts real life event is not ‘historically accurate’ as if this crime would result in an untrue story with no value.
‘The Life of Pi’ teaches us that this is very often not the case. That something that is allegorical or exaggerated can sometimes, like a fairytale, bring us close to the truth’s of life than a ‘realist’ interpretation.
In the end wouldn’t we rather here a story about a boy trapped in a boat with a tiger rather than another man?
Of course we would because the former is clearly the better story. This is something that master storyteller’s like Ang Lee and his uniformly excellent cast understands only too well.