The use of Computer Generating Images (CGIs) in the past has been gaudy and blatant, leaving spectators dissatisfied.
Until the advent of James Cameron’s, Avatar (2009) it had felt like a lot of Hollywood beta-testing; but eclectic Ang Lee, who has brought us Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Brokeback Mountain (2005), has taken the lead from Cameron to create yet another astonishing visual piece in Life of Pi (2012).
Originally considered a concept impossible to put to screen, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi had sat on a Twentieth Century Fox shelf since its literary debut in 2001. Though the novel won a plethora of awards and gained swift critical acclaim, the Canadian novel proved hard to shoot due to its use of live animals and the lack of an on-land setting.
Lee says, “It was a lot harder than I expected. It’s a big movie and it was quite tortuous. But I thought it was a calling, something challenging that could be wonderful,” in an interview with the Telegraph.
After viewing the film, it’s not hard to understand why constructing a movie so breath-taking would be a tortuous task. The majority of the plot takes place in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean; the only characters being a 16 year old Indian boy named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel (Suraj Sharma) and his tiger, Richard Parker. To maintain audience interest would be a wieldy task, but Sharma captivates while Lee keeps everything visually entrancing.
The story is a combination between an existential staple, a coming of age story and a tale of survival. To compare to films of the past, one might say it’s a spiritual Castaway (2000) with a tiger instead of volleyball; of course this is under-cutting the majesty of Pi. This film is nothing short of aesthetic wonderment; a testament to Ang Lee’s ability to manipulate a screenplay into something grandiose.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times says, “There are images in Life of Pi that are so beautiful, so surprising, so right that I hesitate to describe them. Suffice it to say that the simple, elemental facts of sky, sea and animal life are captured with sweetness and sublimity.”
The Oscar race for the best 2012 had to offer is underway, but it will be another month before audiences find out who has won the daddy of all awards: Best Picture. The highest accolade which academy offers has been home to film giants like The Godfather (1973), Gone with the Wind (1940), and Driving Miss Daisy (1990).
This year’s list does anything but disappoint. With the bloody, shoot-em-up Tarantino bid, Django Unchained (2012) and the Spielberg historical drama, Lincoln (2012) in the running, the competition is heated. Though giants like Spielberg and Tarantino are assured acclaim for their respective films, director Ang Lee has given audiences something new and fantastical in his submission of Life of Pi (2012).