‘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.


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.

  1. It seems clear that the intent of the duel narrative was not to “prove” the existence of god, or promote a religious point of view, but to put religious experience in perspective and the explore the salve of faith and myth.
    The “reality”, murder, cannibalism being too hard to accept. With no outside observer, and either story presented, if was left as a choice.
    Remember the comment in the life boat about dreams and reality blending. Whatever gets you through the day.

  2. The evidence of God and the true miracle was that Pi created a narrative which enabled him to endure.

    The mythical stories that humans create in order that they may deal with unspeakable horrors are so creative, rich and enduring that they are the thing that is in fact devine. Our creation and animation of devine forces is one of our greatest achievements. It is such a beautiful human act.

    Niether story was as important as the story teller.

    • Thank you, I loved what you said!

  3. I agree with your interpretation of the ending,(Life of Pi) but I would elaborate it as follows:
    “Which is the better story?”
    God or no God? In this context, believer or not, God is still the ‘better story’.

    • When asked which story the author prefers he replies, “The one with the tiger.”

      Both stories have a tiger according to the Japanese report…

  4. No david
    you dont get it.
    i agree with Spartacus ….#2 comment on thread.
    By the grace of God π was able to do that.
    You know…..create the story to protect his soul ….
    god gave him that skill set.
    There were not 2 events, to choose from. One with. One without.

    • Direct quote from the book:p.352
      Mr.Okamoto: “Yes. The story with the animals is the better story.“
      Pi Patel:“Thank you. And so it goes with God.“

      • It is not that one of Pi’s stories has God and the other has not. It is about people’s attempt to find a story line in order to “explain” or understand their experience. The process that Pi used to create the animal story is the same process by which humans used to create religion.

      • It seems to me that Pi is saying that God prefers the story with the animals, too. The universe would be a brute place with only humans in it, so God created animals, too.

  5. Fantastic film and great dissection above. Great to read everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

    Have to agree though with Raaghav’s comment above – if the intention was to compare belief in God with a desire to choose a happier/rosier life then it is a very poor analogy.

    As has been said most people believe in a higher power because it seems the only RATIONAL thing to believe. That this world with all it’s forms of life and complexity “popped” into existence out of nothing is far less believable than all things having a “cause” ie God.

    Anyways fun movie

    • Sorry, but that’s complete nonsense… Basic occams razor. The fact of the universe’s existence just being so is neither rational or irrational, it’s just the most basic fact we know and the principals of occams razor show that a god is entirely irrational because it makes no sense to add him. Why does having an uncreated god that creates universes (which we have no evidence of) make more sense than an uncreated universe… that we can observe.

      • Tom– this is a story about Pi. An irrational number and an irrational man. Reason is only one part of man’s nature. The other is faith. If you choose to live on Meerkat Island then you chose reason. If you choose to get back in the boat come what may, then you choose faith.

  6. I too believe that the “truth” is actually a possible mixture of both endings. Or neither. No one has mentioned something that I instantly saw: that the 2nd ending also is very hard to believe: That Pi AND HIS MOTHER, the unkind previously encountered cook, and the one sailor he had had conversation with, all ended up in the same lifeboat, out of ALL the people on this ship, is as unbelievable a coincidence, as is the ‘fantasy’ animal story. ( and a possible “neat” invention for Pi to see justice done from the cafeteria incident, if that was even “true’.) I see this as a story about the triumph of the human spirit, and also the majesty of the natural world. Those who are carefully dissecting it for specific religious meaning are missing the point, I feel. What constitutes “God” and belief, is part of the story, the “hook” perhaps in his narration to the writer who was the audience. THe younger Pi’s statement to his father earlier of “why not?” believe all 3 faiths, as opposed to having to choose just one narrowly defined one, was borne out in the ending as well. It is a soaring story, and a soaring film. There is enough there for everyone to take away what they need or wish to. (Perhaps the most amazing and “unbelievable” thing about its coming to the screen, is that the main character could not swim at all before this film. Quite a transformation! And I disagree with those who say he was a poor actor, I saw in him just the opposite. )

    • I loved the movie and love the discussion. My marbles were blown by the “obvious” first intent of the ending, to put out there that Pi made up the fable to deal with the horrific experience he encoutered, in order to “get through it.”

      And I love even more the battle of what “really” happened in a made up story. A fable within a fable. Another beuty of the author’s work is that the disucssion of religion and reality could probably be extended into the author’s life, and what caused him to create such a wonderful tale. And on and on. And so goes our search…

    • So well said BC, thank you!

  7. The technical and aesthetic aspects of the life of Pi film are extraordinary and fun. In my view the allegorical mish-mash ending is no better thought-out than it is the book. The idea that the story with the tiger is somehow representative of the God story (take your pick which God) is simplistic and weak minded. So the choice is believe in a well woven exotic lie rather than face the truth about harsh realitites and uncertainties of existence and moral choice? No sorry, for me this kind of equivocal mumbo jumbo where the reader is supposed to find a deeper meaning (which clearly doesn’t exist in the mind of the writer) is frankly pretentious if not plain dishonest. It falls a very long way short of saying anything new or profound. Fun to watch though in a cartoon sort of way.

  8. The message in the movie that struck me most is the psychology and symbolism: as humans we try many ways to be civilized, that is by ways of rationalism (like Pi’s father) or by religion (like Pi himself), but when confronted by nature’s raw challenges the beast in us is set loose and has to be tamed again. Pi and the Tiger, the human and beast aspect in our personality try to eliminate eachother, but eventually reconcile and understand they are two sides of the same coin. When Pi is saved in the end and returns to the human world, there is no place for the beast in his life, so the Tiger vanishes into the wild jungle where it belongs and enables Pi the human aspect to build a new civil life in the world. So both stories in the movie are symbolic for our inner struggle to become a better person by balancing the three forces: (outer)nature, the inner beast and the inner human. Kudos to Ang Lee for portraying this epic struggle in such a wonderful way. Oscar-worthy in my opinion.

    • Brilliant julie

    • If we believe in the theory that the first story was created by Pi to forget the horror of the real story (with Mom, Sailor and the cook) then we must also think about the horror of the cannibalism that ensued after the wreck. With Pi being the only survivor, will it be appropriate to assume that the three who perished (including the mom) gave the ultimate sacrifice, whether readily or otherwise, to keep Pi alive? This inclusion of his mother as one of the castaways also explains why Pi was in such a great denial that he cooked up a fantastic story consisting of animals and carnivorous island. The fight between the Tiger (animal inside) and the self (human inside) tells us about the feelings of a human being who was fighting the animal inside him to stop from turning into a cannibal for survival. The tiger disappearing in the jungle was a symbolic disappearance of the animal within (the human-eating tiger) and the return of the human self in the form of Pi.

      • My favorite and most logical explanation so far. This whole time I was wondering, well, who the heck was Pi if he was indeed “Richard Parker”? Makes perfect sense to me as the most literal translation I’ve seen. I still want to believe the unbelievable story.

      • after watching the movie and trying to make sense of a second version to Pi’s recount, I have read through sites of explanations and discussions. I have to agree that Mohammad Norman’s explanation is the most logical and by far, the best of them all

      • Ahhha! Thank you Mohammad. Lots for thought in your explanation!

  9. Julie, my favorite comments so far. I would ad: when comes to animals, it was a completely acceptable behavior, but whenever the whole boat story is play by humans then is nor acceptable, it became wrong.

  10. Julie, my favorite comments so far. I would ad: when comes to animals, it was a completely acceptable behavior, but when the whole boat story is play by humans, or in other words, humans behave like animals, then became unacceptable or wrong

  11. Aye.. As an atheist (or rather sceptic) I like tiger story better. Just because I like tigers.
    I understand the background idea.

    Anyways.. they could have ran some tests and make sure which story is the right one – the boat would have definite marks left by tiger – for example, particulary aligned scratches on the sides etc.

    Also to say – oh, but the floating island was a miracle. Believe it or not. And if you believe, you basically believe in miracles. But then again if an existance of such an organism is possible at all, then until scientifically proven otherwise I can accept that Pi saw something (or had hunger induced delirium).
    And so it goes with god. A true scientist will be an atheist, until he is proven otherwise. We accept any view, but we chose to guide our lives by the most plausible.
    If god is somehow proven, the scientist will just shrug, put it down on paper and carry on with his life. However as religious people describe god now, it is absolutely implausible.

  12. Master piece, I gotta say. But if, again, we the story was with humans, rather than animal, what happened in that boat was horrible, the tiger, him, ate the people to survive! It was and internal war between his conscience mind and his animal survivor instincts! He even cried and throw up the first time he “discovers” the ” can food” he found after ” all the animals” are dead. The tiger ate them all. After all that food is gone he is able to be inside the boat again without seeing that horrendous picture. So Everybody will prefer the beautiful animal story. Now this is a very personal opinion: the ” believing in God” part for me it will be the magnificence views that only him was able to enjoy, all the sea animals, stars and the world around him was just as divine as breathtaking.

  13. Julie… I like your explanation a lot !!! thank you :)

  14. Wow!! This film is amazing. How to make sense of this? Is there a need to make sense? Yes. The tale warrants a thought process if writer intended or foresaw the depth of his words or not. Fair to say PI is you and me and how we view our purpose, our existance in this world. In the end, despite our deeds and actions we thank God for our life and we ready ourselves to meet him. In PI’s case he was given a second chance and he has fulfilled his life yet he struggles to understand how the beast within him, the tiger that saved his sanity- the beast that carried out horrific acts against the laws of humanity and god-simply walks away. Is it because there is no place for the beast amongst men? Why the tears and the need to say goodbye and he loves him? Need to get my head round that.

  15. I just saw the movie and have not read the book. Enjoyed the post and loving the comments.

    I really liked the movie a lot, both the 3D spectacle and the story. I think the gist is, there are many stories (the various religions he finds and incorporates into his life are full of stories) that, right or wrong, true or fictional, are used by many people to guide their lives. Religion, in my opinion, comes from the very human need to have stories to help make sense of things – even stories like Pi’s. Religion and literature have a lot in common in this regard.

    That said, his final question regarding the two versions of what happens is “Which one do you *prefer*?” not “Which one do you *believe*?” The poet Anne Sexton wrote, “Need is not quite belief.” Indeed, needing some deity – Vishnu, Christ, Allah – to call out to in times of despair doesn’t mean you believe they are there. Belief can’t be forced if you’re just not convinced. I would “prefer” that there is a God that loves and protects us; it doesn’t mean I believe there is one. Similarly, everyone would “prefer” that the tiger story is the true account, even though it might not be (and to me it is not clear that it is *not* true in the fictional story of Pi — part of me wants him to just suck it up and tell us, okay, the real truth is…)

    So in the end, what I took away is basically, Pi’s thoughts are that choosing a religion is choosing the set of stories you prefer to explain God and his interactions with us. Pi’s father said early on, you can’t find your way if you don’t pick a path.

    On a final note, the emphasis and something we can all take away is in the guide to survival at sea – “Above all else, don’t lose hope.”

    • Let’s remember how Pi tells us the story of how he left his Indian girlfriend. This becomes another point of connection and allegorie with how the Tiger leaves him at the end. In both cases remember, there was no goodbye. This more firmly establishes Pi as the Tiger and perhaps even connects the sexual appetite of the young man with the animal survival instinct of Pi (as the Tiger)at sea; cold and unemotional when circumstances or survival itself call for it.

      Even the title of the book/movie indicates a playfulness and willingness of the author to toy with our ideas of logic versus the unexplainable, as Pi is an infinite, unwieldy and only possible by using one’s imagination and trust – number that describes a real phenomenon, used to accurately assess actual mathematical problems.

      It seems poetically clear to me what conclusions the movie is painting in glorious colors for us. Just as every child somehow wishes it was Santa delivering toys on Christmas Eve, somehow we all would like to believe the Tiger story for Pi and not the terrible human story. Yet, Mom and Dad still put presents under the tree late at night. As a famous painter once said, “Art is a lie that reveals the truth” the first story was an awe-inspiring, gorgeous, exciting, inspiring work of art. The second story was just the truth.

    • Chad– good post. I would like to add that Pi needed both the tiger and the story of the tiger. The tiger provided an instinct and will to survive in that boat. The story provided the ability for him to live with himself afterward.

  16. I LOVED the book and the movie. Enoy the comments here – Julie’s was very helpful in adding the “natura;” to the obvious religious aspect of the film and/or impressions of people afterwards. I’d like to add perhaps another take as well. I have been a sailor and worked on boats for many years. I was also rescued at sea myself- albeit right away and without the horrific drama. Another analogy that I came away with, perhaps through the lens of my experience, is how wonderous and terrible life is, at any given moment and sometimes simultaneously. We are all “adrift” in our boats on this sea of life. There is hope, self determination (although the forces of nature ultimately are at least half in charge), faith, joy, distress and sorrow. Each person tryies to steer their boat and survive with the skills they have, or they just float along without any clear vision and end up where they may. It is the choices we make, both with intent and blindly that guide us as well as the forces of nature. And the stories we tell ourselves. (Obviously). But isn’t all wildy gorgeous and stunning and terrible and heartbreaking? Althiest, agnostic (I struggle with faith myself), devout…what ever your persuasion…it really is miraculous!

    And while I should have ended there, I’d like to mention that I saw Cirque Du Soliel in 3D the next day. It made me think how far we’ve come from the caveman….not only in technology but in art and the hwights we go to for beauty. And the depths in depravity. Might there be God after all?

  17. What a CG masterpiece! Simply spellbinding work by Ang Lee of this novel which would be really really difficult to make into a movie. But that, I think, is the real story here.

    I believe the overall message is that trials and tribulations come to us all, but how we deal with it is more important than what tools we have to deal it with. In other words, your mind really can make you or break you. You can be “God-Like”-provide for the Tiger inside you the sustenance he needs without which he will die (not just the physical nourishment to keep your frail body going, but the mental toughness to keep you grounded through it all), or you can simply succumb and be the “Devil” and go to the route of oblivion and certain perish, where no one will know what your story was.

    It’s all up to your mind, really. Ang Lee took a very tough project slogged through it, and made it a certifiable masterpiece of a movie. In a sense all big and wonderful things we do (marriage, kids, career, etc) start with a journey of purpose and think it’s all going to be smooth sailing,then meet several storms on the way that test our will to go on and question whether the journey is worth it, survive through it one way or another, and reach a higher sense of mental fitness we never thought possible within ourselves.

    I think the story says that both God and the Devil exists within us. Having both is not too bad, but knowing which to rely upon can be a matter of life and death.

    • I can readily juxtapose Mike and Julie’s coments. God and Devil / Inner Human and Inner Beast. McCartney/Wonder wrote “We learn to live and we learn to give each other what we need to survive, together alive.” However, “each other” can be interpreted as the God/Devil or Human/Beast that resides in each of us.

  18. i really thought PI’s story of the animals are just his way to hide the horror of what really happened on the boat. the tiger is actually himself and he had to survived through a terrible witness of his mom died and people killed each other on the boat.

    • We are all animals, all driven by animal instincts and capable if ‘animal behaviour’ given the right circumstances. Society and modern ‘morality’ dictates that we each keep our ‘animal’ (our tigers) under tight control. Such laws of morality were once delivered to us all through the various ‘cover stories’ of religion. these days we also have law. But they are just layers we put onto harsh reality. we need to fight, we need to eat, we need to breed. we still need that animal alive inside us in order to survive – as a race and as an individual. if you took away the conveniences of modern society, we need that animalistic side even more, just to help us stay alive.

    • Erik– another way to think about it is that the tiger story is just another way to describe what happened on the boat. Nothing in the end changes– it’s just another way to tell the story that is more meaningful to human beings.

  19. I loved this book, but I don’t like ambiguous endings. I would have been happy to go on knowing that Pi really did survive with a tiger. I don’t want to believe in the second story, but I do. This is a sad resembelence to my religious views. I want to believe in God, but the facts provided by science suggest there is no need for a God, no need for one in describing how the universe began. The Life of Pi is beautiful, fantastical, awe-inspiring… but true? I have doubts. Although I cling on as hard as I can to believe the first story, I can’t help but feel in the pit of my gut that it is the second that really happened. I wish I believed him, I wish I believed in God.

    • I’m with you, Zahara! Takes guts to come to this kind of conclusion, and in fact the story of Santa Claus is beautiful, as well. I loved the movie and hope people see the positive, uplifting aspects of it, as well! As even the writer says at the end, “So there is a happy ending”

    • “the facts provided by science suggest there is no need for a God” Remember what Pi’s mother tells him at the dinner table. Science tells us about what is out there, but not what is in here (motions to human heart).

    • “the facts provided by science suggest there is no need for a God” Remember what Pi’s mother tells him at the dinner table. Science tells us about what is out there, but not what is in here (motions to human heart). So the conclusion that there is no god is ultimately does not express the wholeness of humanity. As PI says, there are millions of gods out there. They are simply the expressions of what it is to be a human being capable of belief and incomplete without it.

  20. Sad to see, so many people splashing around in the shallow end. Of course there is just one real version.
    You dont get to choose, thats not even the “believe in god” part…
    π is a young student of many religions and made up up story that made him the horrible things that happened.

    • ………made up those things.in order to keep his sanity and survive. God factor is whether you believe a devine being gives the smarts or “gift”to use brain …..where others would perish. You see π. With wife, kids and a life, devine gift.he is sain.

  21. The story is acceptable when animals are the protagonists, but not when people are the protagonists. But why is that? People are subject to the same natural laws as animals, correct? We somehow think people are MORE ‘responsible’ but in the end, not really. All things are caused.

  22. When Pi authorizes to write the story, he says: “it’s YOUR story now”. It tells something different to every viewer/reader depending on wether if you are a tiger or a victim.

    • If you are intrinsically a good person, not a carnivorous tiger, probably your best bet is to believe in god and live according to the commandments of religion and the teachings of a master or a prophet because even if you use your reasoning there are many situations when you ere going to be powerless, impotent against someone or something stronger, but anyways even if you feel like a rogue tiger, what can you do if you get caught in the middle of a storm? that’s the moment when you start to believe in god

  23. One of the best things I have ever seen, it left me stunned and thoughtful, and I came to some personal realizations. It doesn’t matter which was true, perhaps the human version, but it was the tiger that kept him alive and probably, after all the starvation and hallucinations, the story he believed when he finally landed. Given time the other story would have returned to him. But the question remains, where exactly did the tiger come from, where did he get the will to survive and how was it manifested, and that is where we choose the path. For him, the tiger was the greater truth. And maybe, gods or GOD are something we try to describe in human terms, and attribute with things we can understand, but might be, perhaps, something vastly more complex and mysterious. “Choose your path”.

    Brilliant story, helluva film.

  24. i believe the second story actually happened, but that he colored it with the fantastic story of the animals to preserve his faith in people… himself… and faith. the second story is so painfully, woefully disappointing that it makes being trapped on a boat with a wild animal and your life at stake every moment of every day more palatable than what he actually had to face. i think that’s why the folks from the shipping company chose to “beleive” the animal story too – - because it allows us to reconcile his horrific loss with something other than a human cause…

    • Right on! Or if you’re English out there, spot on! That’s my take too, though I doubt I could’ve put it so well with only that many words available to me.

    • They are both the same story– told in different ways. One in a way that requires no faith and one in a way that requires abiding faith in human beings, animals, and gods. Animals cannot choose to interpret the world as a manifestation of god’s will. That is a singularly human choice. When Pi asks the author which story he likes– he says the one with the tiger. Both stories include the tiger– according to the Japanese report.

  25. Well he had to fight the ‘wild animal’ every minute, and also to distance himself from it — figuratively because he made himself into a tiger, and literally because he built himself a little raft away from the boat.

  26. By reading the comments I see that it worked. The ending of the movie gives us the freedom to choose what to believe in. Most people in the comments believe that the second story is the real one. Why? Because it seems more “real”. It’s a satisfactory explanation for a human being. As we are in constant need for evidence and proof. We even prefer to believe in a horrific tragedy just because it seems the more rational line of thought. For me, I believe the first story is the real one. But a lie seems more convenient because we can explain it. And just like the movie very openly points out…the same happens with God.
    I think there is more beyond what we can see. Thinking that we are all there is, is quite depressing actually. God is somehow like the wind. We can’t see Him, but we can feel Him. The presence, and the love. It might sound weird, I know. But i lived a life without God for many years, and now a life with God. So I know what it is like to be in both positions. And believe me when i say, once you truly feel God’s love you never forget it.
    Anyways…the movie was amazing, i’m glad everyone seems to have enjoyed it (each in their own way hehe).

    • Thank you Maya, I really like what you said.

    • ” A lie seems more convenient because we can explain it. And just like the movie very openly points out…the same happens with God.” I totally relate to your 2nd paragraph here, every sentence in it. But the quote is in the 1st one. Are you saying there that you think anyone who, vehemently perhaps, denies the existence of God is choosing the truth more easily explained? I do tend to think of non-believers as lazy thinkers. Lazy thinkers may not be lazy any other way, but when it comes to thinking… Plus, I believe that women feel things more easily than men. Not that men can’t feel the presence or the love of God. Many times they can and can be very articulate about it. It’s sort of like a man deciding he likes to cook and then becomes a great chef, putting most women to shame in the kitchen. But the social scientists say women are more into feeling subtle things because we have to when taking care of children, so this sort of thing has evolved more fully on the distaff side. I guess the trick with guys is to give them a good reason to start cooking or to start really thinking about this notion of God. And naturally, the same would be true for women who haven’t wandered very close to maybe kitchens or maybe God. The bible tell us not to hide our light (the light of God’s love) under a bushel [basket]. But it also warns us not to cast our pearls before swine. Still, a pearl of wisdom dropped here or there now and then can’t cost much and may do some good. God only knows. Plus, in today’s world, most of us are lucky enough not to have to deal much with any really swine-like sorts. Meanwhile, thank God they had a big budget for this picture. Great, thought provoking picture.

      • ” A lie seems more convenient because we can explain it. And just like the movie very openly points out…the same happens with God.” I totally relate to your 2nd paragraph here, every sentence in it. But the quote is in the 1st one. Are you saying there that you think anyone who, vehemently perhaps, denies the existence of God is choosing the truth more easily explained?

        That lie seemed more convenient because we could explain it – the lie of the first story. Yeah, it’s a cinch to explain animals being animals. It’s not a cinch to explain tigers jumping into boats and hyenas and orangs disappearing instantly when they do. It’s also no cinch to explain islands that resemble historical Japan more than anything in nature or lotus blossoms that open to reveal human teeth. There are rather obvious allegories in the first story. This movie is extremely complex. There are stories and concepts within stories and concepts. A university could build a course around just this picture – no lie! The only question is, would it be offered in the philosophy department or the film studies department? My hunch is the first one. A knowledge of film alone is inadequate to understanding a picture such as this one.

  27. It is somewhat amusing that people are looking for spiritual revelation in a work of fiction…..but they are doing that already.

    • It is somewhat amusing that people are so busy criticizing others that they are blind to their own irony.

  28. (I cant speak english to well sorry)
    The movie has more meanings than any other movie ive ever seen. You can make so many things out of it your head will just explode. But seeing it again, only this time with a decided mind will give you a slightly different experience. I “decied” and looked for evidence to make the “human” story the true one. Even though i dont think there really is a true story and instead it takes the real beauty of the movie speculating in wich story was the true one. But anyway i had in mind that the human story happened and it just opened a door with so many other thoughts it was just crazy. My “evidences” was that the animals were trapped in cages and dont think that people, instead of saving themselfes or helping save other people, did actually bother to open the animal cages. When pi swims back to look after his family you cant see if they were still there or if they had died. I dont think they drowned because there were still air in that room. When he oppened the door you could see the tons of bubbles “fly” out. The tiger could represent pi as the strong him. The one that was his saving imagination. When they arrive to mexico he comes back to reality, the tiger dissapears and the chock of coming back to reality knowing what really happened was they key to his tears. The ones he got when carried away from the beach. He also said they were unexplainable but he knew they werent joytears. And there were a couple of other things that pointed towards the human story. But after seeing the movie, for the first time, thinking it really was a tiger and stuff (untill the end) i just saw a movie just as good as the life of pi but with a different set of eyes. Either one makes an extraordinary piece of film

  29. I just want to mention that it was very interesting to note that for a split second in the movie, the zebra appears in the cabin when PI went back to save his family. I didn’t put much thought into it until everything is pulled together: it’s impossible for the zebra to appear in the cabin since there was a stable for all the animals, but I guess this is how Lee wanted to blend the two versions of the two stories together, that is, to show that the sailor was indeed the zebra. Just my 2c.

    • That part was interesting and I think the Zebra was the sailor at that point. What also is interesting is that Pi’s cabin was filled with air but none of his family members came out. Also, someone else commented on what I was having issues with to. That the animals were caged. So how did the animals get free, and get to the deck? There are doors, stairs, and so many obstacles. It is impossible unless someone guided them out. Unless the animals are actually people. The sailor/zebra was helping Pi get on the boat but the zebra/animal jumped in, sending the boat off. The cook/hyena was also on the boat with Pi until he got knocked off.