Ang Lee isn’t a stranger to challenging literary adaptations. He captured Austen’s comedy brilliantly with Sense and Sensibility, working from Emma Thompson’s glittering script. He masterfully brought Annie Proloux’s novella Brokeback Mountain to the big screen. And now he has injected a dose of cinematic life into Yan Martel’s Man Booker winner Life of Pi. For the most part, it’s glorious.
The story starts with a conversation between two men. One is telling the other a story – a story that will make him ‘believe in God’. His story comes to life on the screen in front of us, and it really is strange to behold. A young boy loses his family when the ship taking them from India to Canada sinks. He survives, along with the zoo animals they were transporting. He ends up floating on the ocean in a lifeboat with a dangerous tiger.
Not everyone will buy the alleged profundity the story purports to have, but I doubt there will be me many who fail to be won over by the stunning look of the film. Lee and his cinematographer Claudio Miranda have crafted one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, aesthetically speaking.
The deep messages and the huge amount of emotion that is invested into the story didn’t put me off, but on occasion it did wander a little far towards the self-indulgent. But even so, one expects a film this daring and imaginative to push boundaries, and I ended up moved and impressed by the spectacle of it all.
Life of Pi (2012), directed by Ang Lee, is distributed in the UK by Twentieth Century Fox, Certificate PG.