So tonight I watch the much-anticipated ‘Life of Pi’ movie.
I read the book when I was in my 12th grade, and I have to admit that there were swathes of it that bored me, that I just didn’t get. I blame that on the fact that I was reading a very cerebral, philosophy-and-the-meaning-of-life kind of novel at an age when my brain was more wired towards processing signs of crush reciprocation and the occasional well plotted fantasy (ha! Sorry, there was nothing ‘occasional’ about my need for well-plotted fantasy and there never has been). Also, I read the book, I now realize, for what I rather snottily consider shallow reasons- I wanted to tell people that I’d read it.
You have to admit that that’s a powerful persuader when it comes to choosing the books you read.
My reaction to ‘Life of Pi’, then, was mixed. There were parts of the book that made me say, in my teenage angst, ‘Wow, that is so awesome he just gets me I ❤ Pi XOXOXO’. There were also parts where I wondered why on Earth I had caved in to the Booker judges’ decisions and picked up a book about a man rambling on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The end, when it came, took me completely by surprise (but afforded me more than a spasm of guilty relief). I couldn’t believe that that was it- that was the payoff for following this man’s thoughts on his lonely journey across the world.
I never imagined that it would be the kind of movie that would attract a heavyweight director and a rich studio. But now that it has, I can’t wait to see what Ang Lee has made of it. It’s such a, well, unusual book that it requires a really, really visionary director to breathe any amount of sustained life into it. It’s so easy to mess it up and make it completely, to use the layman’s phrase, boring.
One thing I think he’s done right is to cast a complete newcomer in the main role. That way people don’t have massive expectations from the character of Pi himself, and focus their ire (if there is any) on the other, more experienced members of the cast and crew. Poor Suraj Sharma won’t have to take any flak, really, he’s just an innocent boy who got roped in for a big budget movie. You can’t blame him if the movie fails to excite you- all he did was act for the first time.
That said, I really hope Suraj makes the role his own. I’m being annoyingly parochial here and citing Stephanian solidarity- I hope he rocks that screen and goes on to do much more in the film industry, if that’s where he wants to be.
Trepidation, therefore, on his behalf, on the studio’s behalf, on MY own behalf since I’m spending hard earned money to go watch it (in 3 D no less). Even if the story doesn’t make me believe in God now, five years after reading it, let’s hope it entrances me enough that I don’t regret those 700 bucks later.
To an adventure on the high seas and the illusion of tigers leaping for your throat!