I’ve moved this book/film review over from my Posterous space because, well, Twitter bought them and it’s closing down. Boo!
Towards the end of 2012 I picked up, read and passed on my copy of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.
I wanted to read it before I went to see the film, because generally I prefer to compare film adaptations to books than the other way around. Once you see a film, you have your visuals and you carry them over to the book. I quite like to let my imagination (and the author’s words) do the work first time around.
Anyway, I enjoyed the book; it’s bite-sized compared to most of the 1000-odd page fantasy tomes I tend to wade through. It is at times amusing, upsetting, magical – there were some poignant lines I noticed and should have made a note of as I went along.
Before seeing the film, my impression of the story was that it was one of interpretation. The reader is left with questions and decisions to make by the end and I suppose the conclusions you come to are probably guided by the kind of person you are and the values you hold.
It can be about God if you want it to be – I don’t think it is, but I’m biased. I don’t find it pro-religion, and I don’t find the film to be pushing that agenda either. But you could probably interpret it that way if you really wanted to. Some have decided to take issue with the “I will tell you a story that will make you believe in God” line but I find that unnecessary. I think it’s more about considering how we view and deal with things that happen in life and the power of storytelling.
The book, compared to the film, does make more of a point of there being logical explanations for animal behaviour. Pi’s father is knowledgable on the matter and tries to impart this wisdom to his sons, which ultimately benefits Pi himself. The film seems to cut down on this aspect, which is perhaps why those who have seen the film (but haven’t read the book) might think the emphasis is more on the religious stuff than I felt it was?
Overall I think the film represented the story very well indeed, with only a couple of additions that didn’t spoil anything, but they didn’t necessarily add much for me. There was one omission but I understand why it wasn’t included as it would have required the filmmakers to make a decision when that’s better left to the reader in the story. It’d be *spoilers* to expand on that but I did have a quick facebook chat about it and someone agreed it would have been tricky.
Visually, it’s fantastic. Colourful, joyful, sometimes surprising (greatly enjoyed the people next to me jumping half out of their chairs at one point!), emotional. It is definitely worth seeing in 3D, the technology is used well (but do sit quite far back!).
I recommend going to see it, and do let me know what you think.