First Look at Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ Movie: Man & Tiger on a Boat

Published 2 years ago by , Updated April 30th, 2012 at 11:52 am,

life pi ang lee First Look at Ang Lees Life of Pi Movie: Man & Tiger on a Boat

During the seven years that’ve passed since Ang Lee won an Academy Award for directing Brokeback Mountain, the Taiwanese filmmaker has been operating well below the average moviegoer’s radar – making films like the steamy WW II espionage drama Lust, Caution and the hippie-centric dramedy Taking Woodstock. That should change this December, with the release of Lee’s 3D Life of Pi adaptation.

Life of Pi is based on Yann Martel’s popular (and decorated) 2001 novel. At different stages during its development, people like Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Jean-Pierre Jeanet (Amélie) and M. Night Shyamalan were either loosely attached or expressed an interest in overseeing the project. In case you couldn’t tell, Life of Pi definitely counts as “prestigious” (Oscar bait?) material.

The central narrative thread in Life of Pi concerns the experiences of Piscine Molitor Patel (played by newcomer Suraj Sharma), an Indian teenager with an unusual perspective on spirituality (he follows the Hindu, Christian, and Muslim faith) whose father runs a zoo. Due to the mockable nature of his name – which is pronounced similar to “pissing” – Piscine ends up taking on the shorter nickname “Pi.”

Eventually, Pi and his family decide to travel overseas to Canada, due to the political climate in India. However, the ship carrying their animals (and Pi) unexpectedly sinks, stranding the young man aboard a life boat with a handful of wild animals as his companions – including, a Bengal tiger dubbed “Richard Parker.”

Check out “Richard Parker” and young Pi in the first officially-released still frame from Life of Pi:

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life pi movie 570x319 First Look at Ang Lees Life of Pi Movie: Man & Tiger on a Boat

If the above image from Life of Pi looks somewhat artificial and painterly (like imagery from a Tarsem Singh film such as The Fall or Immortals), well, that’s both fitting and probably intentional.

WARNING: If you do not want to know anything else about what happens in Life of Pi, DO NOT READ ON!

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To explain: a different section of Martel’s Life of Pi novel revolves around an older Pi (Amazing Spider-Man‘s Irrfan Khan, a.k.a. Irrfan) telling his mind-boggling tale of survival to a couple of Japanese maritime employees, who are trying to determine the truth about the shipwreck Pi was involved in. Eventually, Pi presents an alternative, “more realistic” version of his original, dreamlike (thematically and visually) story.

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END OF SPOILERS

As you’ve surely picked up, Life of Pi deals with some heady concepts about the nature of faith and how our personal beliefs shape the very way we perceive the world around us. Considering the talent – including Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland) – and technology involved in bringing Martel’s mystifying novel to cinematic life, this is one flick that any film geek worth their salt should keep an eye on.

Life of Pi is scheduled for theatrical release in the U.S. on December 21st, 2012.

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Source: Criterion Cast

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15 Comments

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  1. As someone who’s read the book….way to spoil the surprise ending, people!

    • I really don’t see it as a “surprise ending.” The point of the book, as I see it, has little to do with determining whether or not the story Pi originally tells is “true.”

      Still, if we’re going to split hairs, most official (or semi-official) synopses/summaries I’ve read for Life of Pi reveal “the twist” too – like this one:

      http://www.epubbud.com/book.php?g=R7G8CMPU

      • Just admit you messed up and stop being defensive. Or better still, edit the post and remove the spoiler. You’ve already ruined it for me. Don’t ruin it for anyone else.

        • I’m willing to compromise and add a spoiler warning, but you’re really missing the point I’m trying to convey – namely, THERE. IS. NO. TWIST. Pi tells one version of his story to others, it is questioned, so he presents an alternate version.

          The only thing to spoil about the book/movie is which version of the story the Japanese maritime workers ultimately conclude must be “the truth” – something I did NOT do – and even then, to focus on that would be to miss the greater point of the novel/movie.

          • That is a spoiler. The whole time you read the book, you’re more or less buying Pi’s story as the canon for what happened. The possibility that things that may not have occurred exactly as Pi presents them to the reader doesn’t even come up until the last chapter.

            I guess it’s a moot point because you edited the post. But you’re wrong about it not being a spoiler.

            And that thing you linked to was a synopsis of the entire book, not the kind of summary you’d find anywhere near the promotional materials or the jacket of the book due to the presence of the big spoiler.

            • *The possibility that things may not have occurred…

              Added an extraneous “that.” My bad.

              Anyway, Pi alludes to it occasionally but that’s not the same as telling the reader outright, **spoiler alert** “The story I’m about to tell you is somewhat made up. Except for the being stranded part. Now make of that what you will.”

    • Way to bring attention to that otherwise overlooked factoid, ScratStitch!

    • Yes, quite a “surprise” ending. People I ask always say the story is true, and seem “surprised” anyone would even ask, like they’re wondering where the idea even came from.

      I would be concerned that a directer would ignore the question entirely, because it is not forcefully presented by the author. If anyone can handle this, it’s Ang Lee. I won’t burden the movie with living up to the experience of the book, but I’m very interested in what Ang Lee will do.

  2. Either way, as a huge fan of the book, I’m excited for this film adaption. It’s an ambitious project and it’ll be very interesting to see how it translates on screen. Count me in.

  3. Is this like ‘snakes on a plane’?

    • Pretty much.

  4. Can’t wait for this. It’s going to be a great Christmas movie season.

  5. Looks like another futile attempt to bring a great story to the screen for those who don’t like to read and have no imagination of their own.

  6. Made my bladdder itch

  7. Lovely pix full of Imagination & Surprise…well worth a visit…cheers

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