Some comments on Ang Lee’s Life of Pi

by Toby Woollaston

Whilst in sunny Gisborne last week Seema and I got out for an evening and saw Life of Pi. Now that it has sat with me for a week I can give a more measured response to Ang Lee’s film. Whilst the book captivated me with its fantastical reveals and appropriate levels of obscurity, Ang Lee has demonstrated, perhaps intentionally, that there are some integral elements of a book that cannot be fully translated to the screen. Both mediums are obviously different and their reception is often polarised. Reception and reaction is appropriated through the various mediums of consumption. Life of Pi is a literal translation and Ang Lee’s attempt to bring Yann Martel’s Life of Pi to the big screen has brought about a visual masterpiece that so beautifully captures the sensory nature of the book … it really is stunning. However, sensory and literal does not subjectively necessitate the same experience of the book. I couldn’t help feeling that the film laid all the book’s mysteries to bear, and then proceeded to answer them too explicitly. That the process the reader goes through, trying to understand what he/she has just read, is non-existent in this film version which is just too well explained leaving the viewer with little more than an exiting visual ride. But what a ride it was.  I still found this a highly entertaining and uplifting film in its own right. Book comparisons aside, I tip my hat too Lee for succeeding in all other areas.  See my rating here.