My summary: The movie ‘The Life Of Pi’ is a heart-warming drama based on the novel authored by Yann Martel, that tells a tale of boy named after a French motel but shortened name -Pi who learns the meaning of life and faith in an experience that rocks his world forever. An experience wrapped around a tragedy which leaves Pi alone in the pacific with a 450pound Royal Bengal Tiger on a life boat.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
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I loved this movie so much that after viewing it, I was deeply compelled to do a review based on what I learned from the movie. This review is not the kind that critiques how professional the actors were, how astounding the special effects used in the movie were, or how gripping the scenes were – No. Rather, it is a personal review of specific scenes that struck a chord in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, most of the scenes were so replete with poignant messages that it made me want to pause and reflect on every dialogue. Anyways, let me get straight to the point before I digress. Note that how the scenes were listed do not necessarily mean they came in that order in the movie. Also, I may have jumbled up the details of the scenes a bit as I wrote them how I could remember.
Scene1: My first favourite scene depicts Pi writing down all the numbers of the mathematical expression ‘π’ on a board before all his mates and his teacher in his math class. This action was induced because his name ‘Piscine’ became the new joke in school, so this was his way of making a statement. Prior to that, he had announced in his other classes that he would henceforth be referred to as ‘Pi’ pronounced as the mathematical expression. What I loved about the scene was that Pi did not cower when his friends tormented him with his name, even as young and fragile as he was. Rather, he evolved the way his mates viewed him: small but mighty; not one to be taken for granted. Lesson: Build a solid foundation with the bricks people throw at you
Scene2: This scene is of Pi standing on the deck of the turbulence-rocked ship, asking God to deliver more rain during a storm. He was the only one on deck at the time while his family and the crew members were asleep below deck. Now the thing is, Pi was asking for more of something that later led to something tragic. As precarious as the situation was, he did not care that more rain could unrest the boat further because he had given into the pleasure of the moment. Unfortunately, God does answer Pi’s prayer. It made me realize that this is the nature of human beings; asking for something without thinking or preparing for the outcome. We pray for wealth, when some of us can’t handle fake or envious friends or the responsibility of being wealthy. We pray for beauty, when some of us can’t handle it when it deteriorates because it never lasts. We pray for fame, when some of us can’t handle the price of fame or when we become unpopular over time. So when God does give what you ask for, and then it turns out to be nothing you expected, do you blame God who probably knew that was going to be the turnout, or do you blame yourself? In Pi’s case, he blamed himself, but would you? So when God withholds your request to an extended time, or he never fulfills them, he surely has his reasons. Lesson: God sometimes gives us what we ask for so that we learn that what we think is best for us is not, and we rely on him to make choices for us.
Scene3: This scene is of the hyena trying to bully the Orang-utan. Seeing that it successfully bullied and killed the zebra the day before without much of a fight , it decided to take advantage. It tried to get to Pi but the Orang-utan pounced on the hyena, trying to save Pi. Why I was moved by this scene is that the Orang-utan knew it was no match for the hyena, but stepped in anyway. Lesson: Never fall into the hands of oppression without giving a fight
Scene 4 & 5: These are two scenes I combined in one because they delivered the same lesson to me. With regards to the former scene, the tiger had jumped over the boat to snack on fish. When it saw that the fish was being elusive, it started to thread the water towards Pi on his make-shift raft. On seeing this, Pi scurried to the boat which he had abandoned due to fear of the tiger. The tiger seeing that it could no longer get Pi, out of fear of drowning tried to get back on the boat but could not claw its way back in, and rendered Pi with fearful pleading eyes. Pi was struck with doubt because he knew the tiger had tried to eat him several times, and he knew that if he saved the tiger, the tiger would still attempt to eat him when struck with hunger later. Despite this dilemma, Pi saves the tiger. Also when it was time to leave the carnivorous island, Pi had the opportunity to leave the tiger behind. This would have made his life on the boat much easier, as he would only have to fend for himself alone without having to sleep with an eye open for fear of the tiger pouncing on him. In the end, I could see Pi ended up loving the tiger because the tiger’s probability of harming him taught him strengths he never knew he possessed; to love what he feared. In return, his kindness was rewarded as the tiger grew less wanting of him and together they formed a rare connection.
Lesson: Love and kindness is all we need. They are the greatest and the most underestimated weapons against those that have thoughts towards harming us.
Scene6: The next storm This scene Pi is praising God for the beauty of his creation. The storm was worsening by the minute but a small opening in the sky had given way to the setting sun’s golden rays- but only for a moment. One would think with the praises , that the storm would be halted. Afterall, he was still glorifying God despite his predicament. The same God that had the power to send immediate rescue if He so wished. Instead, the storm worsened, thus making Pi cry out in anguish, “What more do you want?!”. I could imagine the anger he was feeling, as most of us would, if we were in his shoes. God takes away his family, then he stays on sea for months with no hope of being rescued admist dangerous sea creatures and a very hungry tiger, and then the storm. At that moment, I saw that a lot of us would have given up. Lost faith. A lot of us in anger would have thrown angry epithets at God. Then it occurred to me that one cannot claim to have faith without being tested in pleasant and, just like Pi’s case, dire circumstances. It made me question my faith in God
Lesson: Faith is like a plant. You give it strength and growth when you remain hopeful and patient in all situations, you malnourish it when you doubt, and you kill it when you give up in circumstances.
Fundamentally, the overall lesson learned from the movie is that we are Pi in one way or the other. The sea represents the problems that surround us, with the sea creatures representing the people involved that help us(i.e. the harmless edible fish) cope with or instigate the problems(sharks, whales and the like). The tiger is analogous to our most pressing issue; the one that affects us more despite the sea of problems. That pressing problem we believe that if we can handle, we can handle almost anything else that comes our way. And we are Pi, who like him, decide how to react to our problems. Pi basically used his most pressing problem – the tiger – as a means to survive. Using the tiger’s well being as an excuse for survival was the only way Pi never gave up on himself. It was the only way that Pi could overcome the fact he was surrounded by a sea filled with dangerous sea-creatures, that could be the only source of food for him to feed the tiger. This taught me that problems when used to your advantage, help you to achieve things you once thought impossible.
I also see that Pi being undiscovered was God’s way of making him realize his hidden strengths. If he had been rescued earlier, he would have never known that he could survive for that long with a carnivore, talk less of taming one. The floating Island was God’s way of telling Pi that He had never abandoned him, and I believe the Island carnivorous tendencies was a sign that God did want him to get too settled-in, so that he would find somewhere better. Take for example, you ask for a job from God. Your prayers are answered, and for the mean time the job provides sustenance. After a while, you find that Job is taking most of your time that you would have given your family, and you’re not necessarily happy. I think it’s God’s way of making you move onto greener pastures, so that you don’t end up settling for less than you deserve. This may not be the best example, but it’s the only one that came to mind in attempt to explain the significance of the carnivorous island.
The Life of Pi is a true work of art and an incredible movie that teaches one of courage, faith, and love in the unlikeliest places. The impression of the movie may vary among viewers, but it made me reflect on things I had closed my mind on for a while now. It is definitely a must watch. Absolutely riveting!
***Feel free to leave a comment on what you learned too!