‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained

Published 1 year 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.

TAGS: life of pi

2,794 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. If you get a chance, look at the book reviews. Of course, much was left out of the movie. I must read this story :)

  2. I did not like this movie. To me it was very preachy. The stated goal of the movie is to “get you to believe in god.” If I had known this, I probably never would have sat through this movie to begin with. My trouble with the analysis here is that the “more beautiful” of the two stories (the one that requires “faith”) is only TRULY unrealistic when you consider the stop to the carnivorous island. Everything else–the animals, taming the tiger, surviving at seas, learning to fish, etc–is believable in a way that does NOT require miracles or faith. So, for the author of this story to say that your only options are a “beautiful” story which requires faith and an ugly story which does not is not an accurate representation of the two sides. The author made a CHOICE to make the faithless story ugly. He could have just as easily told the same story of taming the tiger and surviving together at sea for 227 days without the stupid island part and that would have been believable without requiring “faith.” The author is trying to present the argument as what is “real” or based on fact is always ugly and what requires faith is always the more beautiful option. This just simply is not true, and in my opinion it’s highly offensive to the intellect of the viewer/reader.

  3. A “Joe Versus the Volcano” (1990) moment…. ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-ON6jKifyY

    After the ship sinks, Joe (played by Tom Hanks) is adrift for many days in the south pacific. Interestingly, I noticed that as Joe was nearing death he addresses god, and says, God, “Thank you for my life”. JOE STILL HAD FAITH IN GOD. Of course, Pi says those exact words too.
    The enormous full moon scene was interesting as well. When Joe manages to stand up one last time, his body is silhouetted against the backdrop of the moon. The position of his body with arms out, looked very similar to the scene where Pi was silhouetted underwater with the well lit sinking ship as the backdrop.
    Joe: “Dear God, whatever your name may be, thank you for my life”.

    I’m not saying “Joe versus…” was a great film

  4. Look the tiger was a tiger, pi was pi was an entertaining film, I didn’t feel the need to interpret it or notice any symbolism.

  5. Have any one noticed that Richard Parker only appears on the boat after the hyena kills the orangutan???

  6. I believe that PI had to survive by not thinking of the horrible truth of his experience

  7. Anyone who believes that the first story might possibly be true has completely missed the entire point. By asking “which story do you prefer?”, Pi suggests that truth is irrelevant. The first story is a better story, and according to PI, believing the first story is better than accepting the grim reality of the second.

    When Pi remarks “And so it goes with God,” he draws an analogy to the debate over religion: one story (religion) is fantastic, uplifting, and when viewed rationally, cannot be accepted without evidence; the other story (science/reason) is dull, depressing, and probably true. Pi claims that his story would cause anyone to believe in God because he feels that when confronted with both narratives, a sensible person should prefer to believe the first story despite its obvious falsity.

    The question isn’t “Which story do you think is true? One with animals and carnivorous islands, or one with horror and homicide?” The question is “Which story do you prefer? One that’s fantastic and uplifting, or one that is true?”

    • Quite the cynic. You’ve stated your opinion as truth, when the point is that there is neither right nor wrong, and who are any of us to decide what is what? Why do you need evidence of the first story and not of the second? Do you also need evidence that we are surrounded by an infinite universe?
      With all due respect,I think you may have completely missed the point of life.

      • BRILLIANT ANSWER.TRUST IN TRUTH

    • Brilliant and well put summary. Thank you!

    • what I took from this movie is when you tell the truth about what god can do no one wants to hear or see. They don’t believe you it can happen its make believe or another fantasy, sci-fi. The officers or reporters didn’t believe PI. So he change the story to please them. Mentally they don’t believe it could ever be anything more then what’s in front of the face.

      I think outside the box. I think the story with the animals is best story because anything could happen and god is good. Bob Marley said in redemption song “free your mind from mental slavery.” believe free your mind.
      Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
      None but ourselves can free our minds.
      Have no fear for atomic energy,
      ‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
      How long shall they kill our prophets,
      While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
      Some say it’s just a part of it:
      We’ve got to fulfill de book.
      The book meaning bible and not the King James version everything was change in that bible. okay just and opinion one love. good movie

      • dude…bob marley did not believe in the bible
        he followed rastafarianism
        the book he talks about in the song, i believe it’s the book of life, like your lofe is a blank book and you have to fulfill it
        i think you just mixed your own beliefs with the singers lyrics…

  8. I just read all the posts and I was surprised that no one mentioned Pi’s attachment to “words”. In one scene he says all he has left is words. In the next scene they are ripped from his hand and gone forever, unable to help him through his problems. Many religous people cling to the bible or their religious text, when in reality those words can’t help you.

    Also, no one mentioned the references to Buddhism…..the lotus move by his future wife in the dance. In the end, i suspect he ends up turning to Buddhism which teaches philosophies that put all of the movie’s themes into perspective. We could go on with more interpretations from that view.

    My 8 year old son did not believe in God at the beginning of this movie. This was the first movie that ever made him cry. When it was over he was praying to God and said he believed now.

    • So, it’s convincing enough to get an 8 year old to believe in God. That seems about right. In the same way that a Disney movie might convince an 8 year old to believe in fairies or dragons. Though it might fall a little short of the author’s profound intentions, haha.

    • With due respect to all the persons who posted their views hmm sometimes you have to believe the unusual that happened because that make you human. The story is about a boy whose name is different and thats absolutely normal in Indian family and my nick name is Gugan. It sounds funny but what to do its my parents love towards me. When my fellow mates made fun of my name i justified it with different reasons. Anyways just close your eyes for a moment and imagine everything. Try to believe what Pi experienced and you will discover the secret. Life is mysterious in many ways and all you have to do is Believe.

    • amen to your son sister gods love is good. when you stop and and smell the roses it all its beautiful. one love

  9. I will make this short and of course this is my opinion, based on the movie only, since I did not read the book. The reason I think the second story (Human) was the actual truth is because after every count of brutal acts that happened in the boat, (Zebra getting killed, Orangutan, and then the hyena) the boat was clear of body parts and blood as if nothing happened, only pi could have done that himself not the “Tiger” nor would the tiger (animal) let him if he actually existed in the boat. Then the island that he landed on was true in fact but he knew that if he stayed on the island that he would not be found and probably never survive. So he left the island and knew the “tiger would not be late to leave”. (Also knowing he couldn’t leave his strength and courage (Tiger) behind if he was to go on).

    • That makes perfect sense.

  10. I think the truth is the 2nd (people) story. PI created the animal story in his head to keep himself sane in the face of the horrible events that happened on that life boat. He also saw himself as a separate entity from the tiger (who was truly him) because he could not believe that that violent murderer (the tiger) was in fact himself. It was like an out of body experience that his mind created in which he drifted nearby on a separate raft and watched the events unfold…when in reality he was in the middle of those events. There is also this theme that he is scared of the tiger and tries to grow closer to the tiger and eventually accepts the tiger…sort of his process of forgiving himself. When the tiger leaves without looking back he is sad because in the face of society he is forced to repress that side of his own mind but deep down he knows that that part of his mind saved his life.

    This is not a story about animals or people…it’s a story about the inner workings of a man’s mind during times of extreme adversity.

    • I believe of all the post here I have read, I most closely identify with your thoughts of the movie. I saw the movie in the same way as you but was surprised to not see many others viewing it this way as well. Maybe it is the occurrences in our lives that lead us to see this clearer than others.

    • I agree. My exact thoughts. Perfect words, perfect explanation.

    • I agree with this opinion 100%.

  11. There is also the theme of DANGER. From storms, to sharks, and an acidic island. It seems that the danger is just overwhelming. If the life boat represents PI’s mind…there is even danger in his own mind. Life is full of danger and adversity and the only thing you can do is have faith in God and “Never lose Hope”

  12. With due respect to all the persons who posted their views hmm sometimes you have to believe the unusual that happened because that make you human. The story is about a boy whose name is different and thats absolutely normal in Indian family and my nick name is Gugan. It sounds funny but what to do its my parents love towards me. When my fellow mates made fun of my name i justified it with different reasons. Anyways just close your eyes for a moment and imagine everything. Try to believe what Pi experienced and you will discover the secret. Life is mysterious in many ways and all you have to do is Believe.

    • I loved this explanation. Similarly, my mother gave me an unusual name simply because she loved a particular flower. I take the time to notice the magical components in life, feeling not too unconvinced that our character, Pi, did the same.
      I personally feel as if his second story was fabricated, tailored specifically to the simpler minds of the men who requested a simpler story.
      Some people just aren’t capable of imagining or believing in the wonderful.

  13. I believe that sometimes the truth is so horrible, people would rather believe the better story. It protects them from having to face the fact that human nature and god can let us endure suffering. I think this is much like religion, they are all different versions of the same story. Richard Parker leaving symbolizes the best part of Pi, he will never get back. Sometimes as experience can be so bad, it changes us forever (not for the better). No matter how badly we want to change back, we must accept the change and let go of the part that will never return (Richard Parker). Life is about learning to let go, not just of the bad things, but learning to let go of the part of us that was good as well.

  14. Life of Pi

    Animal story:
    Zebra jumps on board and broke his leg during the fall. At they drift on a boat.. Orangutan came along on floating bananas, which they then rescued.. The tiger comes on board.. (pi’s demon/darkside) the hyena was hiding inside the boat during the event.

    Reality:
    Sailor was on the boat with an injured leg, the cook comes onboard not long after Pi.
    Mother drifts along with bananas in her hands and gets in board.

    Clue:
    At the end of the movie- sailor states bananas don’t float.


    Animal story:
    The hyena kills the zebra that was sick and injured. Then he kills the orang utan. Pi was furious after seeing the urangutan being killed, the tiger comes out of no where and kills the hyena. As the tiger was the only one board, pi builds a raft to stay away from the tiger and keep safe.

    Reality:
    The cook kills the japanese sailor with the injured leg as he was weak and sick. Mother slaps the cook, the cook then attacks the mother and kills her. pi was furious which then snaps and kills the cook. He didn’t want to face the horror on shore so he stays on the raft (which the cook had made during the first two days)


    Animal story:
    During the night, the tiger sat gazing at the stars and ocean and didn’t attack Pi, they were at peace.

    Reality:
    During the night pi is at peace.


    Animal story:
    Storm hits, tiger was afraid of the storm.. Pi questions god, why are you scaring him? Then pi begged for god to take his life away and falls asleep. Pi then lays and meditates..

    Reality:
    Storm comes, along with a light – image of god. Pi was ‘afraid’ and begged for god to take his life away.
    Pi then lays and meditates..

    Animal story:
    The next day, the boat landed on a mysterious island(shaped of a human lying down) full of meerkats.. Durring the night.. The lake turns into acid hence why the tiger jumps on boat to stay from island.. And meerkats on tree away from ground. Pi then finds a tooth in a flower which led him to a decision to leave the island as it is not safe.. The island was carnivorous (The tooth belonged to another human before pi landed)


    Animal story:
    Pi set sail again, this time prepared with food from island( greens and dead meerkats for tiger) they land on civilization, tiger jumps off the boat leaving pi without saying goodbye..

    Reality:
    The boat lands back on civilization where a group of sailors finds pi and took him to the hospital bed.

    Demon/inner darkside disappears as pi is back on civilization..


    Message:
    Every human being/ animal, when put on isolation with no food for days, will switch to survival mode.. Dark side comes out.. We will do anything to survive including eating eachother..

    Before religion, rational thinking must take place which leads us to decision..(which Pis father had said on the dinner table)

    Reality lead pi to his animal story.. A test which pi had set to see what others would choose.. A peaceful way of life with a miracle god or darker story..

    People tend to choose the animal story.. As most often questions to their existence.. A peaceful god is a nicer approach..

    Than the dark story as us with an inner dark side/ survival instinct.. Another animal/ being on a planet.

    • Excellent interpretation.

    • Eccellent… This explains the insistance on a vegetarían diet and as why Pi cries and appologies to the firt fish he kills to feed Richard Parker?

  15. First, thanks for the nice explanation of the ending.

    Now here’s my 2 cents on the ending.

    Just as determining which of Pi’s two stories are true is impossible, it is also the same with religion and I think that’s the bigger point of the whole movie/book – to let people understand that it is practically impossible and totally impolite to tell other religions that their faith is wrong and that only one is right. What really matters are the facts that we know.

    The Life of Pi presents facts such as his birth, how he got his name, that the ship sank and that he survived. In this life, we also know some facts, that there was some sort of “beginning”, that we are here and so on.

    We humans however don’t want incomplete stories and so we try to explain what happened in the beginning, how we got created and so on.

    And as it is with how people debate which version of Pi’s story is true, we also debate about which religion is true.

    • Mike. I haven’t read the entire page, but every other post i have read has missed it. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head with this summary. 100% agree.

      Neither story animal/human is correct, or even needs to be. Fact is he survived at sea.

      Christian, Muslim, Hindu doesn’t matter, fact is there is a god.

  16. First when I watched the movie, the ending part was very confusing. But after watching it twice again, I understood it almost.
    I would like to believe PI’s story with the animals. Sometimes truth is very harsh to believe in. We as human being has different feelings and beliefs.
    I hope human will know all the TRUTH one day!

  17. I do believe the human story but this one part makes me want to believe the animal story. this part stuck with me almost as much as the line “which story do you prefer” to which the writer replies “the one with the tiger, that’s the better story.” The following part is what I found most amazing: I wept like a child. Not because I was overwhelmed at having survived, although I was. I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously. It broke my heart. You know my father was right: Richard Parker never saw me as his friend. After all we had been through he didn’t even look back. But I have to believe there was more in his eyes than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it, I felt it. Even if I can’t prove it. You know, I left so much behind: my family, the zoo, India, Anandi. I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye. I was never able to thank my father for all I learned from him. To tell him, without his lessons I would never have survived. I know Richard Parker’s a tiger but I wish I had said, “It’s over. We survived. Thank you for saving my life. I love you, Richard Parker. You’ll always be with me. May God be with you.” Specifically when he says “But I have to believe there was more in his eyes than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it, I felt it. Even if I can’t prove it.” the emotion that he displays shows how real Richard parker was to him and it leaves such an impact on me. What an amazing movie!

  18. I love this movie! It left me thinking for weeks! I’ve watched it so many times, looking at it from so many angles. I do believe the human story but this one part makes me want to believe the animal story. this part stuck with me almost as much as the line “which story do you prefer” to which the writer replies “the one with the tiger, that’s the better story.” The following part is what I found most amazing: I wept like a child. Not because I was overwhelmed at having survived, although I was. I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously. It broke my heart. You know my father was right: Richard Parker never saw me as his friend. After all we had been through he didn’t even look back. But I have to believe there was more in his eyes than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it, I felt it. Even if I can’t prove it. You know, I left so much behind: my family, the zoo, India, Anandi. I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye. I was never able to thank my father for all I learned from him. To tell him, without his lessons I would never have survived. I know Richard Parker’s a tiger but I wish I had said, “It’s over. We survived. Thank you for saving my life. I love you, Richard Parker. You’ll always be with me. May God be with you.” Specifically when he says “But I have to believe there was more in his eyes than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it, I felt it. Even if I can’t prove it.” the emotion that he displays shows how real Richard parker was to him and it leaves such an impact on me. What an amazing movie!

  19. Perhaps this question was already answered.

    What does the final scene mean when Richard Parker walks into the jungle and the jungle morphs (ages?) and fades?

  20. My interpretation is rather long to post here so see my blog (paultkidd on blogspot). It is rather different from what is said elsewhere on the web about Life of Pi …
    http://paultkidd.blogspot.be/2013/09/interpreting-meaning-of-richard-parker.html

  21. I think many believe that the end of the movie is the end of Pi’s journey of discovery. I find that view a cynical glass half empty perspective rather than a glass hslf full perspective

    Our attempts to place the events of the story into a framework of fact is misguided. It is designed, as the reviewer points out, to motivate us to interpretation and introspection. I choose to believe that Pi’s psyche is defending him with the animal story, but that the animal story has drawn Pi to relate it to the journey of spritual discover of his younger days.

    Adult Pi has found happiness, but is clearly on a continuing, yet peaceful, journey of discovery. Where it ends for him we will not know. Love the movie.

  22. It means it’s fiction. The scene in the book is very different. One can see these types of issues in many films. You are supposed to suspend belief and not ask such questions otherwise you will not enjoy the story. See my blog entry about the spiritual meaning of richard parker and pi patel. Paultkidd@blogspot.co.uk

  23. Pi is interesting because it address the real vs the fairytale we tell ourselfs to hid the dark truth. The cook chopped off the leg to try and save the sailor. Most people cannot handle that right in front of them. Then the sailor gets gangreen and dies. Mother is pissed the cook uses the dead sailor as bait for food to catch fish. Cook kills mother and Pi kills cook. Story doesn’t end here because Pi is stuck in the cruel world all alone and survive at sea in a small boat with no food or water far from land or anyone. Most humans are weak and would die but because his father was so tuff on him he survives. The tiger at the end is PI missing the chance to thank his father for being so tuff on him giving him the strenght to survive. The fairy tale is what we tell our children about life, religion and faith in ourselfs. The truth would be to much for most so humans based their lives on fairytale as a coping skills when not fighting for survival. Their is no heaven or hell, no god or the devil. They are just fairytales to help you survive the cruel dark world of reality. Think about it.

  24. Ok, first thing I want to talk about is Pi (like the real math pi), aka 3.14, aka that amazing irrational constant. Yes, I said “irrational constant”. The thing about irrational numbers is that they go on for forever; they have no end (or so it would seem because as is the case with pi we have not found the end yet). But we use PI as if it is a constant. How is this possible??? How can you use a number that goes on forever to compute things that do not go on forever?

    If I was the kind of person that prefered the second ending to Pi’s story (aka “human”) then I would say that there is no way that the number pi could exist and be used like it is. There is no evidence that it has an end so how can it possibly be used reliably in calculations? As a matter of fact, when pi was first “discovered”, mathematicians doubted its reliability. They did not believe in it. And yet today it is utilized in so many calculations that our modern world would fall to pieces if we got it wrong.

    Because I am a person who prefers the first ending (aka tiger), I see the beauty in pi. It is a constant that “cannot” exist, and yet it does. And it works. Perfectly. That blows my mind a little. Kind of like this movie did. DID I LOOSE YOU YET?? I HOPE NOT…

    Now lets talk about the endings. I think the ending that you ultimately “prefer” says A LOT about you. And I think every single person would benefit from thinking about why they prefer the ending they do.

    Because most people seem to prefer the second ending (or at least “believe it to be the truth”), I would like to begin my introspection here. This introspection will follow as a question and answer:

    ME: “Why is it that you prefer the second ending?”

    ENDING 2 BELIEVERS: “Because it is the truth.”

    ME: “For what reason is it the truth?”

    E2B: “Because it is more likely to have happened.”

    ME: “What is your evidence that it is more likely? For something to be more likely, there has to be more evidence on its side.”

    E2B: “Well, we never saw Pi cleaning dead animals out of the boat.”

    ME: “So your evidence is something that you did not see, you did not see any cleaning happening so therefore it could not happen. I am sorry but evidence needs to be something we actually saw or can see, what you are describing is circumstantial.”

    E2B: “Well, I guess there is no real EVIDENCE that the second ending happened, but it is just more rational, more grounded in reality.”

    ME: “So you believe it because it is more in alignment with your actual reality”.

    E2B: “Yes.”

    ME: “So you live in a world where people are more likely to murder each other and eat each other than manage to cohabitat with a tiger?”

    E2B: “Yes.”

    ME: “I feel sad for you that this is your reality. Is it possible that there could one day exist on this planet a reality where the opposite would be true?”

    E2B: “I guess.”

    ME: “How could that reality come into existance?”

    E2B: “Well, people would have to stop killing each other on a regular basis and then I guess people would have to start wanting to hang out with tigers”.

    ME: “Why would people change these things about themselves? What would make them want to change?”

    E2B: “Well, I think people change because they BELIEVE that it is ultimatley better to be something other than they are.”

    ME: “Do you think people would rather kill and eat each other or perhaps try to train a tiger?”

    E2B: “Honestly, I would hope that they would rather try and train a tiger.”

    ME: “Me too, me too. And so it goes with god.”

    As humans, we are where we are because of WHAT WE BELIEVE IN. It may be true be that most people on this planet right now BELIEVE IN DARKNESS, belive that the “horrible truth” is the more likely truth to the movie. BUT WHY?? There was no more evidence for the ending to the “human” story, why is it that you think it is more likely?

    IMAGINE A PLANET WHERE MURDERING AND EATING EACH OTHER IS THE LESS LIKELY STORY, AND IT IS MORE REAL MORE RATIONAL TO BELIEVE IN COEXISTING WITH A TIGER, THIS IS THE PLANET THAT I WANT TO LIVE ON.

  25. Did anybody else observed that the meerkat island’s shape was exacly like a body laying and flowing……..??????????

    • @Shailesh. Yes! That image recurs throughout the movie. Go back to the beginning when Pi is explaining the many gods of Hinduism (when Mom is lighting candles and setting them adrift) he describes Vishnu as the Supreme God who sleeps on top of the ocean, and something like “and we are the stuff of his dreams.”

      Later, Pi as a little boy discovers Jesus. He goes to bed and turns out the light and says, Thank you, Vishnu for introducing me to Jesus. Notice the lamp pedestal again.

      And then that gorgeous pull back of the island. It morphs into the same image. So wonderful. I gasped when I saw it.

    • Yes I did notice this scene with the human body part.

  26. No problem to solve when story is taken as total allegory. In our news media soaked world, searching for journalistic-like, detective answers, we can’t help but look for actual “truth” which has nothing whatever to do with this movie. There are phantasmagorical elements that play with our sense of reality in the lush gorgeousness of the kingdom of India. So we are taken in to “believe” in the truth of the actual existence of lushness. Beyond falling for the fantastically beautiful and bountiful that is the kingdom of earth, there is some sort of plot which we are meant to follow but essentially this movie is plotless. So plot attempting criticism never fully satisfies one way or the other. The images, the imagination, the spirit and the will are the bones to which the plot hinges, hanging like the worn clothes Pi wears ravaged by vicissitudes of his existence at sea.The young Pi is an unformed concept borne of a place and time and temperament set on developing as a sentient truth teller, perhaps, of the guru variety. He, a man-boy who seeks, who is taught, who learns, who strives to believe with everything he can everything he can. So too must we as his “followers” use our visionary perspicacity to make perceptible sense of his experience. Taken in by the actual viewed utter enchantment of the animal version, the movie then finishes up with a tacked-on “people” ending version. Either way, loss does not seem to be the focus but transcending cruelty does. Whether it is understood in the eye of the ‘holder’ or “beholder” is less relevant than the fact that it exists. God whether cruel per se, or not, exists in the mind. The element of existence is the victor, no matter how the plot is interpreted.

  27. Reading all the other comments I’m starting to feel that I’m way off, but here’s what came to my mind at the end of the movie:

    Whether it’s animals or humans that are stranded on a castaway boat (which I think symbolizes life), everybody suffers (a kinda Buddhist shout-out lol). So the idea the author seems to put forward is that we shouldn’t seek to destroy the other fellow-sufferer, but rather to understand their suffering (as well as your own) so that you can minimize it. For example, Pi could have killed the tiger because he didn’t like the way it behaved. In the human story, that means that he could have killed himself because he didn’t like the way he behaved. But the fact that he never did helped him get stronger and build meaning in a seemingly meaningless situation. He started to work with the tiger/his own nature in order to ride it out instead of fight/flee from it. I dunno, this is just my perspective…It’s definitely not spot on though, just thought I’d share it cause this movie was sooo sick!

  28. From all the reviews I’ve seen on the web, this one comes closest to what I think it all meant.

    In my opinion, this is some kind of allegorical essay on (religious) belief. I think both stories are true at the same time. Except one story is the external one and the other the internal. The real story (the horrifying tale of homicide) is the external one. That’s what really happened on that boat. The colourful, unbelievable story of Pi and the tiger is the internal one. His father’s rational belief in science and its power to explain the exterior of our souls versus his mother opinion that religion explains the interiour of our souls.
    People are animals, and may become beasts when it comes to survival. In the beginning of the survival trip, we don’t see the tiger until it attacks the hyena (the cook). And the tiger shoots right underneath from where Pi is sitting. Pi kills the cook and his dark side is born(the tiger). Throughout all of the survival trip, Pi actually tries to make peace with what happened by trying to tame the tiger. But at the same time, he is thankful to the tiger because it keeps him alert, as he puts it himself, the tiger saved his life. More specifically, the tiger (Pi’s inner beast) is really what made him survive. Pi can’t find rest from the tiger until they reach Mexico, where the tiger runs off and doesn’t look back. That’s when Pi’s bestiality leaves him, or just hides in the jungle, ready to come out when it is needed.

    Considering the inner story’s allegorical relation to the real events, the movie is about the emergence of religious belief. And it’s not even that the Writer is told a story that would make him believe in God as a real thing (Vishnu island or whatever) because he prefers the unrealistic one; the Writer is told a story (the whole story of Pi, his both tales) which would make him believe in God as something internal to us. Pi tells him an internal story of religious experience, believing in God, which we could also call a psychological defense mechanism.

    The movie left me with other questions. Are there people strong enough to face the real horrors without belief and not go crazy? Is religion for the weak or is atheism weakening us?

  29. For me I think the 2nd story was the one that really happened. Yet the way Pi told the story is on the third person perspective. It’s like the te real him was not there but instead a wild tiger. Those gruesome things was done by the wild tiger but the real him was out of the raft powerless to be significant in the raft. It’slike the tiger did it but not him. The a scene depicting a fight of power between the tiger and pi might be who will take control of the raft(his body) the savage version of him or the pi that we know. Then he reconciled with his identity accepting that both should exist feeding both. This is crucial while alone on a boat he need to be both strong and remain human. When he reached the shore Richard parker was gonna and the one remained was the human.

    At the end when he ask the writer which one do you prefer? He might be asking how do he see pi as the tiger savage or as Pi the human. the claim that you will believe in God is maybe the fact that Pi experienced a very horrible event in his life and yet a miracle happened. He survived the ordeal and has a good life with wife and kids! It’s like an evidence that a superior being is still there and can’t be explained by science or reason similar to the unanswered question of why the ship sank.

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