Life of Pi: To Read or to Watch … That’s the Question, Isn’t it?
May 6, 2013 11 Comments
Sarabeth and I sat down to watch Life of Pi less than an hour after I finished reading the book. Having read the book of course, I was extremely excited for the movie – and curious as to how it had maintained just a PG rating.
I know some of my readers have yet to see the movie, or even read the book. Or maybe you’ve seen it, but not read it or visa-versa. So you’re wondering, is it worth reading or is it worth watching?
Allow me to share my thoughts on both written and visual depictions of the story by Yann Martel.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Let me tell you, the first few sentences had me hooked. Now, let me make clear to you: I’m not blind to the fact that this book’s cover may have well been a picture of those “Coexist” bumper stickers. (Somebody pointed out at church recently that we already do coexist, so what’s the point of the sticker?)
I read books with many different hats on. I found myself having to switch hats on many different occasions while reading this piece of work.
As a blogger and book reviewer, I couldn’t wait to share this exciting read with my readers.
As an author, I learned many new tricks from Mr. Martel, and am indebted to his bravery of venturing into new territories, and am awed by his storytelling abilities. He truly has proved himself a master of fiction.
As a husband, I sounded like this throughout the last two weeks: “Sarabeth, this book has a lot of potential” … “Sarabeth, I don’t agree with his religious outlook, but he’s such a great writer, I don’t care!” … “Umm… this book is really gory. You might not be able to read it” … “I just threw up” … “I just cried like a baby.” … “Finished. Let’s start the movie.”
But as a Christian, I was not blinded to the overt inclusivistic themes of the book.
(To be sure, the movie hammered those themes much more than the book did.)
I will say that it was extremely fascinating to hear the account of Christianity retold through the eyes of a Hindu/Muslim (yes, the main character Pi subscribes to both religions, plus Christianity).
I am a huge proponent of seeing the world (and God) through the eyes of non-Christians, which is one reason why I think it’s pointless for Christians to only read theology-based books, or listen to only Christian music.
There are so many passages from the book I wanted to share on this post to you all, but space (and time) limit me. So for the sake of story, I truly hope many of you get a chance to read this book. I would be remiss in not warning you however, as I hinted above, that the book is extremely gory at times, and could be overly upsetting to many animal-lovers.
Life of Pi directed by Ang Lee. If anything stood in my way from watching the movie, it would have been director Ang Lee’s weak reputation as a movie director. Need I say more than 2003’s all-time disaster Hulk? That, and his insistance on being controversial, i.e. Brokeback Mountain.
But people have redeemed themselves before. Everyone deserves another chance.
I think Ang Lee did the story more harm than good. I don’t know if it was his decision to add all the weird New Age-y special effects, which really served as nothing more than a New Age mini-sermon disrupting the story, or Hollywood’s insistance to cash out on the 3d rage. Either way, the exagerated color schemes and light shows were all for naught, in my opinion.
I never felt that sense of hopelessness and fear and desperation that we should have felt from Pi since falling into the lifeboat. There was never that Cast Away feel of being alone and missing the life that has forgotten you thousands and thousands of miles away.
Danny Boyle, director of 127 Hours would have been a shoe-in for this project. He knows how to make the audience thirsty for a single drop of water. With a certain, magical way of filmmaking, he can trap every audience member’s hand between a rock and a wall, and convince us all to long for a knife to saw off our arm. That’s exactly the kind of director Life of Pi needed.
I would suggest watching the movie if you simply can’t get to the book. Because, in Lee’s defense, he does stay true to the story, despite his weird detours and out-of place special effects.
In summary. Despite my disagreement with Yann Martel’s vision of God, I will eagerly anticipate his next book.
I think Ang Lee has run out of chances with me.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer the book or the movie?