‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 19th, 2014 at 10:25 am,

Life of Pi Ending Explained Life of Pi Ending Explained

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is racking-up critical acclaim (read our review) and pre-award season buzz along with solid box office numbers. Though, for every mention of the film’s beautiful 3D or amazing CGI tiger, there’s a fuddled viewer confused by the movie’s controversial ending.

Readers of Yann Martel’s original novel (the ones who made it to the end) have already faced the challenging last-minute question presented by the story’s narrator, but filmgoers expecting a fanciful adventure at sea have been understandably caught off-guard by the finale. No doubt, viewers will debate the ending with friends and family – but to help steer discussion we’ve put together a brief analysis of the Life of Pi ending, explaining why the final question may not be as cut and dry as some moviegoers seem to think.

It goes without saying that the remainder of this article will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for Life of Pi - the movie and the book (especially the ending). If you do not want to be spoiled about either, turn away now.

Life of Pi Shipwreck Life of Pi Ending Explained

For anyone who hasn’t seen (or read) Life of Pi and isn’t concerned about having the ending spoiled, Pi’s adventure concludes in a Mexican hospital bed – where he is interviewed by a pair of Japanese Ministry of Transport officials. The agents tell Pi that his story – which includes multiple animal companions and a carnivorous island – is too unbelievable for them to report, so Pi tells them a different version of the story: one that paints a much darker and emotionally disturbing variation of events. After both stories have been shared, Pi leaves it up to the viewer (or reader) to decide which version they “prefer.”

Personal “preference” has larger thematic meaning, when viewed in the context of the overarching story; however, before we analyze the ending (via the question) in greater detail, we’re going to briefly lay out the two versions of Pi’s story.

In both accounts, Pi’s father contracts a Japanese ship to transport his family, along with a number of their zoo animals, from India to Canada in an effort to escape political upheaval in their native country. The stories are identical up until Pi climbs aboard the lifeboat (following the sinking of the cargo ship) only re-converging when he is rescued on the Mexican shore. The 227 days that Pi spends lost at sea are up for debate.

Life of Pi Richard Parker Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Animal Story

In this version of Pi’s tale, the cargo ship sinks and, during the ensuing chaos, he is joined on the lifeboat by a ragtag group of zoo animals that also managed to escape: an orangutan, a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, and a Bengal Tiger (named Richard Parker). After some time, Pi watches helplessly as the hyena kills the zebra and then the orangutan before it is, subsequently, dispatched by Richard Parker. Pi then sets about conditioning the tiger through rewarding behavior (food and fresh water), so that the two can co-exist in the boat. Though Pi succeeds, the pair remain on the verge of starvation – until, after several months at sea, they wash ashore an uncharted island packed with fresh vegetation and a bountiful meerkat population. Pi and Richard Parker stuff themselves, but soon discover that the island is home to a carnivorous algae that, when the tide arrives, turns the ground to an acidic trap. Pi realizes that eventually the island will consume them – so he stocks the lifeboat with greens and meerkats and the pair sets sail again. When the lifeboat makes landfall along the Mexican coast, Pi and Richard Parker are once again malnourished – as Pi collapses on the beach, he watches the Bengal Tiger disappear into the jungle without even glancing back.

Pi is brought to a hospital – where he tells the animal story to the Japanese officials. However, when the agents do not believe his tale, the young survivor tells a different version of his journey.

Life of Pi Suraj Sharma Boat Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Human Story

In this version of Pi’s tale the cargo ship still sinks, but instead of the ragtag group of animals in the lifeboat, Pi claims that he was joined by his mother (Gita), the ship’s despicable cook, and an injured Japanese sailor. After some time, fearing for the limited supplies in the boat, the cook kills the weakened Japanese sailor, and later, Gita. Scarred from watching his mother die in front of his eyes, Pi kills the cook in a moment of self-preservation (and revenge).

Pi does not mention his other adventures at sea (the carnivorous island, etc) but it’d be easy to strip away some of the fantastical elements in favor of more grounded (albeit allegorical) situations. Maybe he found an island but realized that living is more than just eating and existing – deciding to take his chances at sea instead of wasting away in apathy on a beach eating meerkats all alone. Of course, that is purely speculation – since, again, Pi does not elaborate on the more grounded human story beyond the revelation that he was alone on the lifeboat.

Life of Pi Whale Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Ending Explained

Even if the connection between the lifeboat parties was missed, the writer makes the connection for the audience (or readers): the hyena is the cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mother, the zebra is the sailor, and Richard Parker is Pi. However, the film’s juxtaposition of the animal story and the human story has led many moviegoers to view the last-minute plot point as a finite “twist” – which was not the original intention of Martel (with the book) or very likely Lee (with the film). Viewers have pointed to the look of anguish on Pi’s face during his telling of the human story in the film as “proof” that he was uncomfortable facing the true horror of his experience. However, the novel takes the scene in the opposite direction, with Pi expressing annoyance at the two men – criticizing them for wanting “a story they already know.” Either way, much like the ending of Inception (read our explanation of that ending), there is no “correct” answer – and Life of Pi intentionally leaves the question unanswered so that viewers (and readers) can make up their own mind.

Facing the final question, it can be easy to forget that, from the outset, The Writer character was promised a story that would make him believe in God. In the first part of the narrative, we see Pi struggling to reconcile the differences between faith interpretations (Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam) – acknowledging that each of them contained valuable elements, even if they tell different stories (elements that together help him survive his ordeal at sea regardless of whether or not he was there with a tiger).

As a result, the larger question is impossible to answer definitively and, as mentioned, the “truth” of Pi’s story is of little concern to Martel or Lee. The real question is – which story do you, the viewer/reader prefer? Interpretation is subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of theological reflection. Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that always make sense/things that you can see? Or are you a person that prefers to believe in miracles/take things on faith? There are no right or wrong answers – just an opportunity for introspection.

Life of Pi Island Life of Pi Ending Explained

Pi is faced with a heavy challenge: telling a story that will make a person believe in God. Some listeners might remain unconvinced but in the case of The Writer, who openly admits that he prefers the story with the tiger, and the Japanese officials, who in their closing report remarked on the feat of “surviving 227 days at sea… especially with a tiger,” Pi successfully helps skeptics overcome one of the largest hurdles to faith – believing in the unbelievable.

Since Pi marries The Writer’s preference for the Tiger story with the line, “and so it goes with God,” it’s hard to separate the question entirely from theology. Evidenced by his multi-religion background, Pi does not believe that any of the world’s religions are a one-stop shop for the truth of God – and his goal is not to convert anyone to a specific dogma. Instead, his story is set up to help viewers/readers consider which version of the world they prefer – the one where we make our own way and suffer through the darkness via self-determination, or the one where we are aided by something greater than ourselves (regardless of which version of “God” we may accept).

That said, aside from all the theological implications, and regardless of personal preference, it’s insular to view the ending as simply a dismissal of everything that Pi had previously described (and/or experienced) – since, in keeping with his view that every religious story has worthwhile parts, a third interpretation of the ending could be that the “truth” is a mix of both stories. Like Pi and his three-tiered faith routine, the viewer/reader can always pick and choose the parts that benefit their preferred version of the tale.

Life of Pi Suraj Sharma Life of Pi Ending Explained

The “truth”: Pi survived for 227 days at sea, married the girl of his dreams, had children, and lived to tell two stories.

Like any quality piece of entertainment, a lot of this is subjective and there are multiple ways of interpreting the Life of Pi ending, so feel free to (respectfully) share your interpretation with fellow moviegoers in the comment section below.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Life of Pi episode of the SR Underground podcast.

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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Life of Pi as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Life of Pi is now playing in theaters everywhere. It is Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.

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2,794 Comments - Comments are closed.

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  1. I haven’t seen the movie, but this “twist” was such a huge, unnecessary flaw in what was an otherwise very good book. The best writers don’t, and shouldn’t, spell everything out for the reader. It takes away so much of what is so great about literature (or stories in general). By trying to do too much, Martel just ended up being a bit lazy.

    • I don’t understand how he is “lazy.” It seems like the story could have easily been a delightful adventure, a straightforward simple story. Instead it does pose questions about truth, the nature of man, and the nature of animals (or man as animal), God, etc. I’m not judging how successful he is, but I wouldn’t call the attempt “lazy.” And the book, to me, didn’t really hammer these things in. I met plenty of people who didn’t even entertain the possible second story. I don’t think it’s easy to introduce these things so subtly, and he doesn’t demand any specific interpretation from the reader. It’s a very mature and skillful book IMO.

      • That’s a perfectly fair point. And I hope I didn’t sound too harsh. I thought the book was fairly excellent. But I’ll clarify what I mean by lazy.

        To me, a good story will stand on its own. If an author properly sets a metaphor up then there is no need to explicitly point it out. Actually, as I’m typing this, I realize that “lazy” is the wrong word. I think Martel did a disservice to his readers. He took away their ability, to a certain extent, to form their own conclusions. The twist was largely unnecessary. I don’t think it added anything to the book but I think it did take something away.

        Again, this didn’t ruin the book for me. Just that it could have been better.

        • It’s a meta-metaphor then. It asks us what metaphors, are, what are and aren’t metaphors, etc. One question I ask myself is if it’s okay to use nature as a metaphor? Do Tigers and hyenas lives have any meaning beyond what is important to us, from our perspective? Have snakes gotten a raw deal in our metaphor games?

          I don’t know, Tyler. I appreciated the clarification.

        • I disagree. I think the explanation of the metaphor had an important purpose. The director needed to inform that the writer understood the metaphor, the writer understood that the real story was the one with people, not with animals. Why? Because when he made his choice of which story he preferred, he made an informed choice. He knew that he was choosing the myth, not the reality. When Pi responds “and so is with God”, he means, you choose to believe in God because you prefer the myth over the reality. This movie is not about religion. Is about atheism. The only unanswered question is: why do people choose the myth – knowing that it is not real?…

          • The reason people choose the first story with the animals is because it is such a more interesting story. Without Pi visiting the floating island and without all the supernatural events and whatnot, the second story is far from interesting compared to the first. That is why, in my opinion..

            • Then you’re saying that people chose the myth-laden version, because it makes life more interesting…

          • this is exactly what I was wondering! is the author an atheist by any chance? that is how i interpreted it but thought i might be wrong…

          • I chose the first story because I believe God sets life for us! The first story is not a “myth” lol some things are just unbelievable, like God! I don’t how I can elaborate this but as long as I made some sense its all good!

          • I had been wondering why I haven’t met/heard anyone put forward this aspect/point of view. Glad that I’m not the only one with this thought.

          • Actually, it IS about one’s belief in God. Does one believe in something that is unbelieveable or one that is logical in one’s mind? For faith is to believe with one’s heart and not one’s head. Faith is to believe in the unbelieveable. And so it goes with God. That is what makes a believer.

            The animal story told of Pi’s beliefs in a high power, God. It was Pi’s faith that in reality helped him survive. Such as life, a believer relys on and trusts in his faith to help him survive this world. For we are in this world but not of this world. And, that is what makes a beautiful story.

          • I agree, and think this is the meaning of the “myth” given in the movie too. The author is saying faith in God is something that goes against reality, and is a choice beyond rationality and sanity. It is a pretty lie,a fable. And that is why the entire movie is not profound for me at all, but a deeply flawed and naive view.

            People don’t choose to believe in God because they prefer a pretty myth over the uglier “truth”. They believe because they have a profound, inexplicable experience of the divine. Their theology is an attempt to explain what has already happened, not something they conjure up to decorate an unadorned truth – at least that is genuine faith. I can’t speak for those who believe otherwise.

          • @ anitsirc>>>It must be nice to know EVERYTHING. Separate fact from fiction because anything you have not seen nor felt for yourself must certainly be myth. I on the other hand am a “myth believer” if that means believing in God. How does “and so it is with God” mean God is a myth when he starts the story stating that it will make you believe in God? Maybe, just maybe, that means that just because something doesn’t fit into a nice little box that EVERYONE can accept, it doesn’t make it untrue.

    • I’d love to see all the novels you’ve written

      • You posted that comment on a site that often reviews movies. I’ll let that irony sink in for a moment.

    • As Yann lives in my city, I consider myself so fortunate today, to be attending a book talk with Yann Martel as he discusses his novel ‘Life of Pi’ and the movie. I wonder if pressed,whether he would even share the meaning of his writing or if his intent was to leave the interpretation totally up to the reader/viewer. Any questions you might like be to try to ask?

    • It seems that people will believe anything so the twist in this case was needed.

      10 Commandments that every child should be taught.

      1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.

      2. DO NOT think that claims about magic, miracles and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.

      3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.

      4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars want to prohibit you from looking under the hood.

      5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and ghouls and believing in any of them does not make one moral.

      6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should you believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.

      7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?

      8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of God,” “God is outside the Universe” or “God moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.

      9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?

      10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.

      If we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

  2. This article did not explain any thing !

    • Yes it did.

      It says that we’re a species that either chooses to believe in “fairy stories” to help us cope with life (aka religion) or who need to see cold, hard facts and proof to help us cement our mark on the world.

      Whichever one you are, that’s good for you, continue to follow that path because ultimately, we should all live the way that works best for each of us individually.

      • “Cement our mark on the world”? That’s the motivation for believing facts?
        Interesting.

        • it was arguably a convoluted way to convey his message, but his point is spot on.

      • Spot on Dazz :)

      • well said !!

      • well said. good job. thank you for this ‘short, brief summary’. you understood everything

      • “Whichever one you are, that’s good for you, continue to follow that path because ultimately, we should all live the way that works best for each of us individually.”

        Can you say that to Marshall Applewhite?

        I strongly disagree, as long as FACTS do exist such intricate questions of life are not up for personal opinions based on personal preference and comfort… such liberal bullshits (excuse my French) have long failed.

        Believing in arbitrary fantastical b******* has so far cost humanity enough lives and conflicts thank you very much.

        • Yes because the materialist and atheistic worldview had never produced any sort of horrific and general human atrocity (*cough* communism *cough*), and the world is filled with atheist funded and agnostic driven charity works. Dawkins et al are driven by their core belief systems to help those around them, do as much altruistic good as possible, reduce their continual self-promotion and become less vain and self serving. Oh wait…

    • The point of the book/movie isn’t about figuring out which story is true. It’s about how each of us should examine what we want in terms of faith. If it doesn’t matter in the end which story/religion we believe, why not believe in the one we like?

      • Because some statement are simply true and others are irrational and objectively false. More so, because subjectively holding a view leads only to conflicts, labelling and segregation of human species and consequently bloodshed, case in point 10,000 years of human history…

        • To Gash…
          yet the conflicts you mention are all man made, not caused by God. Most of man’s ills are fueled by power, hate and sin… not for a zeal to seek God. A true follower in God believes his reward is not in this world but in the next. True, holding a view leads only to conflict…. having faith and belief without doubt is immeasurable peace.

    • lol

  3. The ending is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this movie. The amazing visuals are just a smoke screen to help cover up a forgettable story. Once the initial “wow factor” wears off, you are stuck in a theater watching a preachy story with a lead actor that does not have the acting chops to carry this role. At the end I didnt care if he lived or died. Similar to Avatar, this is a movie of the moment that relies on its glitzy visuals to make up for a lacking story, and will be forgetten over time.

    • I agree Avatar is forgotten, but I think this film may linger for a bit longer.
      I think the lead actor(s) did a great job with the material they were given

      • Interesting read.. Now had a clear picture and message what in real movie wants to showcase and spread..

    • read the novel :)

  4. its sad that people need everything explained now days
    its like they’ve never heard of a thing called Brain :|

    • brain? what’s that? har har

  5. Nice introduction to the topic, Ben. Thanks for introducing it. I don’t know which is more ambitious: A book/movie/story that will make one believe in God, or a blog entry that explains the interpretation of this story.

    I Read the book and saw the movie. When I read the book I disregarded or forgot the whole “make you believe in God” angle. The movie reminded me of it. I think the book may have done a better job of making all these choices “optional.”

    When I saw the movie I thought the 2nd story, with him telling it with obvious emotion, made it much more likely to have really happened (at least in the movie’s telling). I figured that the reason there were no flashbacks shown was because Ang Lee decided that would be even more overpowering. I wonder why he didn’t at least show just a quick scene with all the humans on the lifeboat. But as I’ve kept thinking about it, I wonder if a flashback, with the voice of the older PI telling it with less emotion, may have actually had less of an impact. I don’t know. It’s a powerful ending for the movie.

    Anyway, I actually love both stories. When I read the book and pictured Pi as younger, I imagined that he had created the 1st story in order to protect himself psychologically. In reality, he survived. But in order to do that he adapted supremely well to the circumstances, so he probably killed and may have even resorted to some cannibalism. That would be the horror he needed to “escape.” Also, it’s unlikely that any animals would have made it to the upper decks in time to escape, much less end up in a lifeboat. Also, the book begins talking about “adaptation” and how successful life doesn’t always take the form we think it should. As dark as that interpretation is, I find it touching that a young mind would and could come up with an alternative. In either story he is pulling deeply from his thoughts and experiences, his inner resources.

    However, the 1st story is so real it left an indelible mark on me. It’s somehow real too, and also moving, and is preferable for obvious reasons.

    As for whether this makes me believe in God. No. I have believed in my lifetime, and I can relate very well to Pi’s feelings. It’s powerful to believe that there is an all powerful being that controls everything and that there is a purpose and reason for everything I experience. I’ve had that feeling many times, but I simply don’t believe that way anymore. The Universe is impersonal to me. There is no afterlife. I’m fine with it. So is a person’s earnestly sincere interpretation of the Universe supposed to change that? Is Yann Martel? Not for me. But I don’t need it to. I enjoy the story. Any story has a point of view, but I’m not required to share it. I can relate to it on many levels, but that’s it. I’m shocked at all the negative reviews for the book on Amazon.com with people saying, “This said it would make me believe in God. It didn’t. Blah. Blah…”

    If anything it seems like it was saying that having faith simply feels better than not, and since it doesn’t change the outcome of anything, it’s okay. I’ve certainly known people who say that point of view. I don’t feel that way. And I actually think that the majority of the time, belief does make a difference because believers usually claim a divine mandate to impose they’re beliefs into the world through laws, punishments, politics, war, and so on. So I like the character “Pi” but I don’t think belief in God is so neutral or benign for the majority of people.

    Again, good topic, Ben. The book and movie are great tools for reflection and discussion.

    • Very well put! I welcome you to read my interpretations in page 27 or 28.

  6. Thanks for an opportunity to stretch the topic. The success of the book and the movie remind me that humans need hope. It is not about religion, because that is bondage. It is about taking off our labels and taking care of each other, starting with ourselves first and working that love and appreciation outwards. PI followed the directions, gathered water and food, protected himself and lost it all in the storm. Everyone laughed in the theater when he called himself an idiot. Everyone relates to that moment when you think you got circumstances finally under control, only to see your best plans float away.

    We are not puppets, but designed to be warriors on a path to find truth, love, light, joy, peace, hope, faith and a future. Those who are shallow, superficial and condescending will meander through life never reaching their real potential or grasping how much they are loved. Those who seek the truth will find it and help others on their journey.
    I enjoyed all the comments and your follow-up!
    Life is certainly what you make it.

    • Amen Sister!

      The story offers the viewer/reader choices on so many levels. The act of considering which story is true and your thought/decision process is a meta-meta-spiritual construct. I just find that interesting, entertaining and potentially enlightening.

      • Did it ever occur to anyone that the whole story might just be “a story” with no particular meaning meant or inferred by the author? We could probably all write such convoluted stories and have people discussing and analyzing the true meaning of them ad infinitum. Some would say that in any case the story had definite meaning from the author whether he realized it or not, and that may well be true.

  7. Thanks for an opportunity to share.. The success of the book and the movie remind me that humans need hope. It is not about religion, because that is bondage. It is about taking off our labels and taking care of each other, starting with ourselves first and working that love and appreciation outwards. PI followed the directions, gathered water and food, protected himself and lost it all in the storm. Everyone laughed in the theater when he called himself an idiot. Everyone relates to that moment when you think you got circumstances finally under control, only to see your best plans float away.

    We are not puppets, but designed to be warriors on a path to find truth, love, light, joy, peace, hope, faith and a future. Those who are shallow, superficial and condescending will meander through life never reaching their real potential or grasping how much they are loved. Those who seek the truth will find it and help others on their journey.
    I enjoyed all the comments and your follow-up!
    Life is certainly what you make it.

    • Your comment makes me feel normal for the first time since watching that damn movie! I cried like a baby at the ending because I felt tricked; like the carpet had been ripped out from under my feet. This movie was one I really wanted to like. I took my 12 year old girl, her friend, my 6 year old twins & my beautiful wife to see it. As the humans in the lifeboat story got told, I thought “here it is, the watering down of my faith… The belittling of my beliefs & the subconscious superimposition of atheism implanted in the hearts of my children.”
      What I failed to acknowledge is that there IS a plan, wether we choose to believe in it or not & the darkness that is spread like a virus in ways we don’t understand is not guaranteed to take away our faith – it is only an attempt, & it is only as powerful as we give power to it to become so.
      My wife loved the movie & said she only felt stronger after watching the ending. If my kids can view the world with a righteous filter & a loving interpretation the way she does, I’m sure we will survive & thrive. If they inherit my disposition which is to assign a sinister motive to many of the pop culture ideas & narratives we see in our time, I worry for their longevity as believers.
      The bottom line I keep coming back to as I ponder the story is that there is a truth that exists each day. If a camera was rolling during the accounts of miracles throughout history, we would never know who possesses genuine faith. There is just enough of a lack of evidence that God exists to leave the truth of His existence in each of our hearts & minds as a choice. Perhaps that was the point of Life of Pi — I hope so.

  8. This movie sounds so interesting… maybe i should see it…

    • maybe you should :)

  9. the second human story should not have a place in such a fantastic journey of triumph. all those magnificent obstacles pi overcame and all those adventures just fly right out the window when the darker more realistic human story is told. what a buzz killer. you watch the movie like wow this is the most beautiful, epic, wonderful thing i have ever seen and then at the end you’re like what? so none of it actually happened :-( aww man. perfectly good fantasy ruined by reality.

    • I think it’s all supposed to be taken as fiction.

      • Exactly.

  10. Had the movie not included the heavy, dark contrast of the human story, it would have been a throwaway visual spectacle like Avatar. Those that think the movie is preaching religion or god have missed the point entirely. We all have a choice.

    • I don’t want to say anything too controversial, but the reason some people may find the choice offered by the film to be unfair is that decisions made according to reason can seem more freely made than those made for no reason other than a directive of faith. You only need to look at some of the very sincere statements in these comments about the way faith overwhelms one to understand what I mean.

      • Pi states at one point about the carnivorous island, “You won’t find these trees in any nature book.” The choice is somewhat oversimplified in the end. I choose to view this film as an art in storytelling and an examination of all the world’s beauty, including faith, reason and imagination. Not as an analysis of what kind of person one is.

      • while I don’t necessarily agree with your statement, there may be some truth to it.
        I think the reason I was perhaps more annoyed than most [initially] is because I personally do not believe in god, and I felt the “this story will make you believe in god” part was a little off-putting to me, and felt cheated [initially] out of a rational ending.

        ultimately, I don’t see this film as a “proof” that we must believe in god, but rather a “believe if you prefer to believe”, or don’t if you “can’t”

        which I’m comfortable with after all.

    • Absolutely true! Movie is not about God’s miracles,only thing required is follow the whole movie with pi’s concluding words-”as it goes with the God”
      and one can understand the role of god in the story…
      Mr.Lee has claverly left the choice to every individual viewer,
      but hey!depending on his choice one can either develop faith in god or louse it!

      • I really think you have misconstrued the ending. Pi asks the writer “which story do you prefer?” He chooses the animal version because “it’s a better story.” Pi replies “so it is with God”, in other words, faith is a willful belief in something we know to be not true, because we prefer it to the dark, nasty reality. Choose your own story, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. We all know the truth and it’s dark and ugly. That is not real faith, it’s insanity and delusion. The movie is asserting there is no evidence whatsoever for God and faith; it’s a madman’s choice that must be made in contrast too the truth.

        So the film ends with a false dichotomy. It’s a nasty trick ending, that seems profound for a few seconds, and then is quickly revealed as rotten and insidious. All it tells us really is that the author doesn’t understand genuine, authentic faith.

    • Absolutely true!Movie is not about God’s miracles,only thing required is follow the whole movie with pi’s concluding words-”as it goes with the God”
      and one can understand the role of god in the story…
      Mr.Lee has claverly left the choice to every individual viewer,
      but hey!depending on his choice one can either develop faith in god or louse it!

  11. Blog is good, almost close enough …, and the comments are even better …, I wish more and more people will see this beautiful film Life of Pi, and get the rusted wheels in the brain going …, This is my third film by Ang Lee and what a great director …, all his movies have something and totally different from each other. I read the book and watched the film as is …, did not dwelve into it much. And it is very interesting to read the conclusions people are coming up with …, Nice …,

  12. I just saw the movie. And I haven’t read the book.

    I feel the film disempowered its potency by offering the choice of belief at the end of the movie.

    Ofcourse everyone will want to believe the story with the tiger. That’s not because we like to believe in the unbelievable or the magnificent, but because that’s what we have spent the last two hours or so watching and experiencing, and believing. And so we don’t want to feel like what we believed was a lie.

    But my real problem with the movie is that it offers the choice of belief in the story of the tiger equivalent to one’s preferance to believe in God. Belief in God, or true faith, is not a choice. It dawns upon you, through doubt, through experience, through grace, and through life itself. So to make it seem like a thing of convenience, because it sounds better or feels good to believe in God, is making God and faith in God as a cheap commodity available at the next door market.

    And if you really think about it, its not like the second story is devoid of unbelievability. What is the essential difference between the two? Just that in the second, it was humans that behaved like animals, towards each other, wherein the first story with the tiger, even Pi showed him compassion at one point where he could’ve easily slayed him. That’s why we don’t like the sound of the second story. That humans could’ve behaved like animals. But even in the second story, a young man survives at sea for 227 days. That generally speaking, for most people, can be enough to warrant the beginning of belief in the hand of God. So, actually, the second story is not that far from the first. Just replace the animals with humans, and you’re still left with a good story. Just that it doesn’t ‘feel’ good.

    So, like I said, by making the first story as something one would prefer to believe in, over the second, and that choice being akin to one’s choice of belief in God is a stupid, silly, degrading idea, because it cheapens one’s belief in God, as something one would do only because it feels better.

    Frankly, for me, neither of the stories make me believe in God. Because God is not something you can choose to believe in. It is something you discover within yourself, as an experience, and not as a choice or even as a belief.

    God as a belief is simply religion. God as an experience, is spirituality. And that you can only find within yourself. Yes, faith forged on the bedrock of doubt, serves as the vehicle for that experience, but it is still not a choice, and least of all a convenient one.

    I feel the movie should have ended when Richard Parker strode into the jungle, and as Pi wailed away while being carried by the locals, followed by the older Pi’s heartwarming tale of how he missed the opportunity of saying goodbye, and having closure..Lee could have easily found a way to finish the film satisfactorily at that point or thereafter, and left me feeling mesmerised by this tale, this visual spectacle, and with all its tones of survival, hope, faith, the supremacy of nature, the compassion and spirit of humans, his engagement with nature, his belief in himself, the elements of fortune and providence, etc etc…

    Yet, what i’m left with is a terrible feeling of disappointment with the theological stance of the movie, that the need for faith or belief in God exists because it makes our human life a more beautiful story, a prettier story, a story that’s more digestible. And somewhere in doing so, (and by posing the choice at the end) the film poses to dismiss the possibility that God is perhaps the only reality, the only Truth, that its not a question of choice of belief, but rather, yes, through faith, it can be discovered, felt and experienced within ourselves.

    Still, I’d like to say that Lee has still managed to evoke enough within us, and stor us enough to engage in this debate of belief, and the film does lead to deeper discussions on humanity, our nature, our need for faith and belief, etc, and for that, I do think he has done something special.

  13. I have not read the book, but did see the film. First, I did not think that the “make you believe in God” angle really went much of anywhere. The older Pi and the writer talked about it a bit, but the actual story did not make enough of a discernable point in backing them up.

    Second, I admire thought-provoking endings in theory (Inception, etc.), but at least in this film, the ending really did feel like an underdeveloped, tacked-on twist. As Pi is sitting in the hospital bed in Mexico, telling the non-animal version of the story, rather than being engrossed in his words, I found myself suddenly becoming very bored. It was just not a compellingly clear scene. I get the idea, but the execution could have been much better.

    • I think there are many ways the second story could have been handled. I wish, or I hope, we’ll get some kind of reasoning from Ang Lee in the future. I think he chose a way that made it very powerful. There were other options.

      The second story could have been told with visual flashbacks and a voice-over. I expected that. Reading the book, everything is visualized in the mind of the reader, and they hired a well-regarded actor Gerard Depardieu as the cook. So, I imagine they may have experimented with how to depict the second story. Personally, I think the straightforward telling from the younger Pi may have been the version that made it most powerful. They could have shown some visuals with his voice over, or the voice of the older Pi.

      On the other hand, maybe a good portion of the audience would have taken visuals even more seriously than the boy telling the story. This version required the audience to listen and pay attention, which not everyone is equally good at.

    • Indeed, I was bored at the ending as well. Until, Pi questioned, “So, which story do you believe?”

      It was then I realized what the film is talking about, it was then I was “awakened” by this mastery of Ang’s storytelling.

      We were bored because of the magnificence of the animal story, the visual effects and fantastical stories etc, and so it is with God, like Pi, who followed various gods because of their wonders and miraculous stories, are we viewer like him, sucked into 1hr and 45min of wonder but bored at that 5min of reality and truth.

      I prefer this way, being not compelling..and honestly I missed most of Pi’s words during my first viewing because I was so bored. That made me went back to watch the second time just to catch what did he actually said!

  14. I’m a fan of delivering a deeper meaning through the cinematic arts but this movie fell very flat when posing the alternate story elements, it’s like the magic stopped during Pi’s recounting of the more brutal “human story”.
    I sat through ‘Cloud Atlas’ and loved every minute of it because it was consistent throughout. I tell people who are interested in seeing ‘Life of Pi’ to leave as soon as they reach the sandy shore and Richard Parker walks away, it makes for a better story. I regret watching the end of this flick, it ruined the experience for me.

    • “don’t Kill yourself against the fence, Clara, If you do, you’ll never know what happened to you”

      don’t deny them the chance to “feel” the so called twist. You’re cheating them out of a critical part of the story.

      “unfortunately noone can be told..what the Matrix is.. you have to see it for yourself”

      You have to let them see it, and judge for themselves what the story means to them

    • cronotrnicdextra-

      The story was entirely consistent. Think back to the scene at the dinner table when Pi’s father explains that reason should be his guide and that belief in several religions is tantamount to believing in no religion at all. At the end of that sermon Pi tells his parents that he wants to be baptized. There you have the story in microcosm– a choice between reason and faith. You have it again in several other discussions in the movie. Then again when Pi chooses to leave the island. No reasonable person would choose to leave the island. It meets all human and animal needs. Consider how difficult it would be to convince an animal to leave an unending food source and a natural habitat to climb aboard a boat. Pi chose faith. He could easily have chosen reason, but it would somehow leave out what it means to be a human being. The human that chose to stay on the island before him represented one who chose reason over faith– but as the island demonstrates– that can be a poisonous decision. Eventually, all that are the physical remains– with nothing of the story remaining. Pi chooses to test himself and surrender to God instead of meeting this fate.

  15. The ultimate message of the book and the movie is the introduction of the adult Pi’s wife and children, which places us squarely in the present moment and makes both stories irrelevant.

    One can choose the world of religion and its fantasies as an antidote to the indifference and randomness of reality, but the latter is also the product of deeply flawed perceptions. The works present these worlds and the choice between them as possibly significant, but then cuts even this idea off at the knees. The Universe does not care, and there is only this moment.

  16. when I first saw the movie, I hated the ending.
    I have no problem with Ang Lee, I was upset at the story.
    I was upset that the writer forced us to “decide” or “choose” what really hapenned.
    Which story was “real”, or whether parts of both stories were real.

    I was pissed for days. I think I gave it 3/5 in the SR vote.

    a few days later, after discussing with a co-worker,
    I realized that “like it or not”, it was a great movie \ Book because the purpose of “art” is to make us emote or “feel” and if days later we still feel strongly enough about this movie to discuss \ comment \ RANT

    then “it was not all for naught”

    personally I feel the “real” story was the one with the Cook, Mother, Japanese cat, and Pi [as Richard Parker]

    remmber when Richard Parker was staring deep into the ocean, and saw Pi’s mother?
    then looked back at Pi with sadness?

    what does Richard Parker feel for Gita? Nothing.
    that was all PI.

    anyways…

    after having gotten over my frustration at being forced to “make a choice”, decide what I choose to “believe”,
    I can now look beyond the ridiculous tiger story, and apply this “self-determination” theory to belief in god, life, fate, etc, etc…

    all in all, I liked the movie, despite its obvious flaws, and It was a fabulous interpretation by a fabulous director.

  17. It is quite obvious that the last horrific story of murder and cannibalism is the real story. Going through an experience like that would be enough to make one disbelieve in God. The fantastical story of the tiger has to be a means of dealing with the trauma of this most terrible reality. When Pi says, ‘So it is with God,’ he is implying that faith in God is a way of dealing with the harsh reality of life by believing a made-up allegorical myth. This is how atheists and agnostics view religious faith. Rather than instilling faith in God, the movie tends to do just the opposite.

    Not all religions are the same. Some are based upon myth and legend and fairy-tales – and even lies. Others are based upon the testimonies of real people regarding real events that can be historically confirmed (albeit with a divine intervention and supernatural element). How does each religion deal with the problem of evil? Some seek to deny the very existence of evil. The movie does not appear to do this. It seems to acknowledge evil, even within the protagonist Pi.

    We live in a very beautifully created world filled with wonder, and also grotesque horror and evil. Something is inherently troubling with the stark dichotomy we call life. Each religion offers its own answer, or lack of answer. It is up to you to choose.

    After personally searching through and experiencing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Animism, New Age, Theosophy, the Occult, and finally Christianity – rather than mixing up my own Heinz 57 religious sauce (I tried it for awhile but it didn’t work); I chose Christ and the Bible. Not as a mythical salve, but the only sufficiently realistic answer to the harsh reality of life’s trials, tribulations and terrors. You can live with hope beyond the grave, or on the other hand, the dismal prospect of oblivion. The choice is yours.

    • The answer is: the boy was wise and curious. He ultimately formed his own religion,and used storytelling as he had learned from his studies thus far in life.
      you see: copping skills for reality….thats all any religion is.his father showed him evil in anothers eyes is reality.
      Pi had the tools to form his own mini religion, he as many humans before him have needed to.
      That is what makes our souls so tender.

    • Did anyone else see what i saw……..
      When he threw the lifesaver ring in the choppy water.it was “the cook” i saw Depardue….

      • The only thing with that theory would mean the cook was the tiger? Though it did look like someone, I wish I could see that part again.

      • I saw him too. Maybe because that’s what I expected to see but Raven’s right. That’s why I dismissed that when I saw it because Gerard would have been the tiger.

    • Christianity? Historically confirmed? BAWAHAHAHAHAHA

  18. I find the “human” version to be unbelievable. If the orangutan was his Mother he would’ve tried to defend her – fiercly. When the hyena attacked his Mother he would’ve gone after it with an ore or anything he could get his hands on and would’ve relentlessly beat the animal over the head or at least tried to use the ore to heave the animal into the sea. His lack of a response (other than the horror on his face) indicates it truly was an orangutan.

    • You are mixing up the details. It would have been the cook killing the mother. There were no non-human animals in the second story. And things may not have happened exactly the way it happened in the first story. I think he said that his mother pushed him to the rigged raft, and he assumed she was following. So, if he was floating out on a raft, and the much larger cook was positioned in the lifeboat, presumably well-armed, he wasn’t in a good position to immediately react. But finally in the second story, Pi himself is the stand-in for the Tiger. The Tiger does kill the hyena. Pi killed the cook.

    • You don’t get to choose whether Story 1 story to make sense to you. Story two is the reality.π just uses his imaginative mind. remember what he has spent his life studying. his father showed him evil. he had just the tools needed to survive. just as most religious stories are made up. he created his own mini religion and made up a story that made him

    • You don’t get to choose whether Story 1 story to make sense to you. Story two is the reality.π just uses his imaginative mind. remember what he
      has spent his life studying. his father showed him evil. he had just the tools needed to survive. just as most religious stories are made up. he created his own mini religion and made up a story that made him

    • Typing from a phone is limited.
      Its not pick a story……close your eyes…….and go to sleep……its reality “bites”….and this boy/prophet. Tells a story…kinda like Noah…..

  19. I loved this movie. Even though we were asked to choose the story that we preferred, I felt that, in a way, both endings were true. One was the version that Pi’s father would have understood — the rational, logical, scientific understanding of the in-your-face facts of life — and the other story was the version that his mother would have understood – the story that explained the internal experience of events, the emotional understanding. I thought both stories explained the same events. The human story was the literal facts, true but inadequate to completely convey what Pi experienced. The animal story was not literally true but came closer to explaining what Pi experienced.

    • For example, if you were trying to help someone who had never heard of a violin understand what a violin is, you could define the violin as a musical instrument and explain the scientific facts behind sound waves, how the violin produces them, and how the ear works…or you could have the person listen to violin music. Both methods of explaining the violin add something to the understanding of what a violin is.

    • Correct. Pi’s mother even draws this distinction in the movie. She says that logic is great for the external world. But not so good at describing internal (emotional) reality.

  20. Pi shares only one story. He tells it two different ways. His listeners are not asked to choose which version is true. They are asked which version they ‘prefer’. To some extent their preference will depend on how they view, or at least want to view, human beings. Are we nearest to the gods or nearest to beasts? Spirit or flesh?

    Pi himself owns both tellings. He lets them stand together as two sides of the same reality, as two radii make up the diameter of a circle. Yin and yang.

    Just as the animals in the boat serve as metaphors for human beings, the ‘carnivorous island’ is also a metaphor. Pi describes two landfalls. Again he supplies a symbol first (an island that does not appear literally on any map), then a fact-based account (a beach in Mexico). The first is a metaphor for the world to which Pi returns after his ‘baptism’ at sea.

    The island represents the world and human society as Pi, after his ordeal, sees it. He knows the world to be a finite, bounded place that appears safer at first than it is. In the end it will take back everything it gives. Such is the relationship between birth and death. Human societies are like so many colonies of meerkats. We are chattering omnivores who hustle to build shelters and scavenge and reproduce. Between the two singularities of birth and death, bounty and menace, we busy ourselves as best we can.

    The tiger does not make a farewell gesture to Pi because it never really leaves him. The animal heads into the forest as Pi heads into the world. Both are at large because Pi and his beast are one. Pi the vegetarian knows the carnivore is potentially dangerous. But he also knows he owes his life to it. He has achieved a kind of truce with it. But he will remain wary of it.

    The tiger is that part of all of us which is never tamed.

    • I loved this thoughtful comment. It opened up an interpretation of the island story that I had not seen. This whole I discussion is very helpful to someone trying to understand the movie. Thanks very much!

    • You are correct.

    • Best comment yet Amando

    • I just saw this movie a few hours ago, and it’s meaning is srill washinn over me like the waves in the sea. Your interpretation is wonderful, as my boyfriend and I will continue to talk about how we each experienced this film. I must read the book now! Ang Lee… Masterful, provocative – the purpose of being an artist. “Art has the power, to change people’s lives.” and also inspire us to think

    • Wow–what a thoughtful explanation. Best one I’ve read and it really summed it up for me. From my view…just saw the movie and love love loved it. When it ended I said: “That was an adult fairy tale”…

    • Wow Amando how many times did you watch this movie? You have had the best explanation and the most spiritual food for thought! THANK YOU!

  21. I went and saw life of pi, and I loved the story. I read the book, If i would have to choose a interpretation of what happened on Pi’s journey. I would have to say I prefer the story of the tiger because It is less gruesome to me considering that normally humans dont eat other humans,and I would not like the thoughts of reading or seeing someone kill another human being and eat them. Although somehow the other human story appeals to me but not as much as the animal story. In either story, I see Pi as a very courageous man that survived out at sea.

  22. I wanted to say that I loved pi’s thirst for God or the things unseen. I loved how much courage he had and that he fought to stay alive and didnt give up. The movie did not change my belief or preceptions on God, but I enjoyed the movie and how beautiful the scenes were. When seeing the movie at the end of the movie and when i read the story I was perplexed that he would make me choose what I preferred to believe about the story, I wanted to believe both stories but I found myself saying that the real story was the human story, although I found meaning in both stories. IN the end, I found myself liking the animal story more because of my own likes and dislikes in general, I don’t like to see violence at all but I guess this movie and book has revealed to me something about myself, I would rather see an animal kill another animal then to see a human kill another human. The animal story appeals to me a little more than the human story but both stories have meaning to me. In either story, I feel the same thing that Pi is very courageous for surviving, for fighting for his life and for having a tremendous thrist for God.

  23. Not one person here has mentioned a key point in the movie. Pi is upset that the tiger didn’t look back at him at the end. I interpret that to mean the person he had become (one that he wants to forget) left him the minute he was saved. He is troubled trying to rationalize that person and what measures he took to survive. The tiger in him was not “a friend” as he explains in the end but a creature who endured to still live. His belief in God is now what helps him to get through life. Anyway thats my interpretation.

    • Ray, You’re right. But also recall that the Tiger has been confused with a human before– Richard Parker. He gets confused with Pi as well, and we find out ultimately that Pi is not just the tiger– but a combination of the rational and animalistic natures. The tiger didn’t look back at the end because that is the tiger’s nature. He is an animal. It is not in his nature to reflect. It is solely in the rational man’s nature. Recall that Pi’s father tells him that what he sees when he looks in the tiger’s eye is simply a reflection of what he wants to believe about the tiger’s nature. Everyone on the boat becomes an animal after a while–depravity and hunger bring us back to our animal natures.

  24. I actually do think of the last bit of the movie as a plot twist. Perhaps Martel didn’t mean it that way, but Lee certainly did. Whereas the book deliberately tried to give some credibility to the animal story, the movie made it obvious that the animal story was nothing but fantasy.

    In fact, I don’t know whether I should trust Pi as a reliable storyteller even when it comes to the second story. There were lots of hints, such as the shape of the island, that Pi in fact cannibalized his mother.

  25. So how did the boat sink…?

    • These comments are unusually thoughtful and worth reading!! But I wonder why no one seems to have addressed the issue of what made the boat sink. I thought it was clear that it was when Pi, in his irresponsibly teenage zeal to experience the world raw, opened the door (hatch) to get on deck and experience the storm that allowed the sea to enter the interior of the boat and lead to its sinking. Am I wrong about that interpretation? For some reason, that never seemed to be brought up in the movie, even at the end.
      If I’m right, then Pi has a whole lot weighing on his conscience, whichever way the subsequent events went. And God help him!

      • I have just come back from seeing the movie…started the book a number of times but couldn’t seem to get through it, but will certainly pick it up again. I wondered about the same detail that Bensabio mentioned. In the interview in the hospital room, at the end, twice Pi had the opportunity to explain why the ship sank. I was waited expectantly for him to explain that they were hit will a terrible storm. It left questions in my mind, why he purposely did not share this.

        I too believe that the second story was the true one but the events were so traumatic and horrifying to have lived through that it was necessary for Pi to create the first story, in his mind, to actually continue to live with any degree of sanity. I still am not sure about the metaphor for the “magical island”. At this point Pi thanks God for providing for him and saving him. Could this island experience indicate the point that Pi truly acknowledges that there is a God and that He has intervened in Pi’s struggle and has saved him, but it was up to Pi to recognize the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (dangers) that surrounded him at this place. In other words- the good and evil that exists around all humans in life. Pi had to make the choice to leave the ‘island’ before the evil would consume him as we as humans also need to do in life. ???

        • Benz, I don’t think the island represent evil. It represents a rational choice to trust reason over faith. Reason, and the animalistic nature of man would never have any reason to leave the island. This is true especially for the Tiger. Do you think you could get a Tiger to leave his habitat and an unlimited source of food to brave the ocean? Especially after the Tiger knows what depravity the ocean holds? The answer is no. Pi, who has mastered the Tiger, must invite him back on the boat. This is not a problem because the Tiger is part of Pi. It’s the part that keeps him alive earlier. But Pi is not just a rational animal– he is someone with faith. He braves the ocean because of his faith. He choses to do so because what the island holds is meeting only his basic bodily needs. The island’s sinister day/night birth and death signifies a life not worth living, since it is a denial of faith.

  26. For me, where the novel is concerned, I’m one of the few who is going with the animal story being real. There are 3 reasons for this.

    1. The island. Despite readers trying to give it symbolism Martel said that that is beside the point. He placed it in the story to make something so unbelievable that it would force the reader to make a decision in regards to whether Pi was telling the truth. I’m thinking that the island is so strange it is real because why would Pi make it up? Logically, if he was giving metaphors for everything, changing his story to something else, the island would have a deeper meaning. That it doesn’t, that it exists to exist, makes me believe it must be taken at face value.

    2. The other survivor in the animal story. In the novel, Pi meets a Frenchman that tries to eat him. Richard Parker than eats the Frenchman. This is AFTER the hyena incident. It would seem redundant that Pi would have this scenerio occur twice if the hyena had been the Frenchman all along. I’m sorry this wasn’t in the film.

    3. The alternate story itself. I find it odd that had Pi been trying to save himself from what really happend by building a lie or variation he would then break down so easily and tell what really happened. I think he would fight for his delusion with his dying breath.

    I’m disappointed that so many people just accept the last story as being real. It disappoints me but doesn’t suprise me. I expected it. It makes people feel smarter. They don’t have to feel silly. I don’t care. I’m an idiot. I admit it.

    The book is about faith and interpretation. I see so many people deride religion and call it a fairy tale. I think what these people forget is that all fairy tales hold truths. It could be Little Red Riding Hood warning about strangers or The Three Little Pigs telling us to build stronger houses but there are truths to them and to deny that is ignorant. Both Pi’s stories are the same. To me it doesn’t matter if Adam and Eve were humans or monkeys. The essence of the story is the same. Man found out the difference between what is right and what is wrong, hurting something else always being wrong, and this is one of the many ways we are different than animals. Stories/Art also makes us different. Fairy Tales will always mean so much more to me than Science because they concern themselves with our morals and souls, our spiritual growth. They feed this. Physical bodies, life, survives just fine without knowing how we are doing it. Millions of years of life, just us being here, proves this.

    Do you think if a God exists, and I believe with all my heart, mind and soul that It does, that It is interested at all in proving Its existence? I think it would HATE that. Just as with Pi’s alternate tale It wants another option. It is pointless to try to prove either way. If there was no God someone still was born that created One and believed in It. It would undoubtedly happen again. If there is a God people are still born who will choose not to believe in It. People believe what they want to believe. God would have given us freedom of choice and It would understand that faith and love is nothing without that. Besides, It would also be smart enough to realize that knowing It existed or not we would still probably treat each other just as crummily as we usually do. Look in the area of faith. People who don’t believe in anything else seem to enjoy taking away the comfort of those who do believe. And those who do believe seem to enjoy telling those who don’t that they are damned. God is probably far more disappointed in how we treat each other than in how we treat It.

    • Erin.
      what do think about. The carnivaris cook being the carniaris tiger
      I can see pi setting off on a separate raft with the cook on the boat.

    • I think when people believe the second story they see the island to be part of Pi’s realization that though that ‘Tiger’ part himself, the carnival/killer provided himself with skills and food to survive, to live it was slowly eating at himself. Such as the Island would slowly kill him so would be his tiger/killer instincts.
      If he stayed that way being completely driven by his survival instincts he would kill that part of himself that made him, him. The island posses that idea of living and being truly alive. The island reminded him of that, yes it provided him things to continue to live but if he stayed there in that place of survival instincts he’d eat his own humanity.
      The island opened his eyes to that which he hadn’t seen before and that’s why he decided to leave the island because he didn’t want to destroy the very thing he was surviving for, his humanity.
      Though I see how people view the island metaphor I still chose to believe the first story.

    • The island only has that unbelievable feel to it for you because you are a Westerner. No offense.

      In point of fact, however, the Island is Mother Nature in her most simple form. You and I *ARE* going to be eaten by that green stuff — the plant life. That’s how the cycle of life WORKS. Soil is dead stuff. Death and life appear to go hand-in-hand — life creates death. But death also creates life!

      Pi’s desire to leave the island is simply a metaphor for wanting more from life than to simply become plant food.

      • Epinoia– well put. I’d only add that the choice to leave the island represents faith. Staying on the island represents reason and meeting one’s needs in a reliable way.

      • Epinoia– well put. I’d only add that the choice to leave the island represents choosing faith over reason. (Man’s spiritual nature versus his animal needs). Staying on the island represents reason and meeting one’s needs in a reliable way.

    • In the novel Pi talks about how he doesn’t really remember timing of events, so even though it appears that the eating of the other sailor was AFTER the hyena, the reality is they are one and the same.

  27. i shaw the movies and its awosome and have mysrerious adventures.i alwayz admire the director and encourage the director to make more films and encourage people for natural conservation…..

  28. Haven’t yet had a chance to see the film, but this article (spoiler-free) certainly doesn’t have me excited. Does a great job of digging into why the frame story is a bit of a lazy crutch for the filmmakers.

    Very interesting read: http://ahorizontalmyth.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/verbosity-killed-the-cat-life-of-pis-unfortunate-frame-story/

  29. The idea that Pi’s mind generated the animals as substitutes for an unbearable truth is persuasive, and I accept it as the literal truth. But his larger concern is with the nature of God and the Problem of Evil (if there is an omnipotent God who loves us, why is there suffering?). The answer that’s suggested through Pi’s parable is that suffering is part of our physical existence (our animal nature). We have to kill to survive, even if we only kill plants. But our physical existence is also full of joy and love and is the medium for the percepton of God. Our physical nature can be controlled (though the tiger cannot be tamed, it can be trained). Our physical nature can even be loved. But it can’t be held onto forever. Our untimate existence is on another plane. Those who believe the physical universe is the ground of reality need to ponder a little on the significance of Pi’s name.

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