Life of Pi is a 2012 adventure drama film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. The storyline revolves around an Indian man named ‘Pi’ Patel, who is narrating to a novelist about his life story. He tells that how at the age of 16 he became a victim of a shipwreck and was able to survive all hardships. The fact that he was in the company of a Bengal tiger for whole 227 days on a single lifeboat and how he had to survive while being in danger at all times.
This report will identify and examine the film theories about this movie ‘life of Pi’ and all the methods used in the production of it.
Aesthetics of the film
Firstly, we will talk about the cinematography and the aesthetics of the film. Meaning that all the picturesque scenes, vivid colors and the artistic blend of fiction and reality used to create the movie. Most of the film scenes are of Pi at floating on Pacific Ocean, so there are not many aesthetic scenes, but the few that were includes in it are very beautiful. They create a completely different feeling of wonder and the outlandishly beautiful details build a different environment. The graphics used to create the magical images filled with majestic whales and the reflection of a tapestry of stars over a calm and peaceful sea takes the level of visual poetry to another level. It shows what the medium can do if you just let your imagination run free.
This theory is an assumption of what the determinants are that makes the mind react in a certain way. it is the understanding of human behavior and their intellectual power on how quickly they are able to adapt themselves to the changing environment. In this movie, it is shown in the start that Pi is a vegetarian and he cannot stand even the thought of killing an animal. But when he is stranded all alone, he is forced to eat sea food to survive. He is shown killing fish to feed himself and the Bengali tiger.
The look of disgust clearly shows his unwillingness to kill the fish, but desperate times calls for desperate measures. In order to save himself from being eaten by the tiger, he took the necessary steps to keep it well-fed and survive (Ashdown, 2013).
This movie is purely fiction and drama. It is not based on a true story, however the way it is told invokes true feelings. Everything, from the actors to the sets and locations, the background music have all succeeded in portraying true classicalness of the movie and kept the audience engrossed in the story till the end.
Emotions through cinematography
There are many scenes that give away different kinds of emotions.
This scene was shown when Pi was on his way to Canada with his family on the ship. His expressions show that he was deep in thought, probably thinking about his new life which would start soon, or maybe he was reminiscing about his previous life and all the people he left behind with only memories to cherish now (Duncan, 2008).
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These scenes show the loneliness Pi was feeling. That feeling is portrayed by showing Pi alone, sitting on a hand made raft made by himself to maintain distance from the tiger. The blank look on his face while he stares out at nothing on the sea. The scene where he witnesses a truly magical night but no one to share it with except the tiger. There are moments when Pi would find himself sharing his thought with the tiger without realizing it.
This scene shows Pi’s disgust while killing a fish but he was forced to do it to feed the tiger and because he had to feed himself as well to stay alive. It creates a feeling of pity for Pi because he had never ever harmed any living creature before but being forced to do it to protect himself.
The tiredness and fatigue portrayed is very realistic and when the tiger walks away from Pi when the have finally reached the island makes the viewres heart go out for Pi, because he did so much for the tiger yet he was left alone as soon as they reached safety. The tiger showed no loyalty which brought viewers back to the scene at the start of the film where Pi’s father had warned him that the tiger was just a wild animal and not his friend.
Mise En scene
This means the arrangement of sceneries, props, etc., on the set of the film. It is used to analyze the visual presentation of the film. It creates the nature of the character, the emotions they portray and the mood they set for their audience. The way each scene is linked to create an impact on the viewer without them even realizing it.
Methods used in filmmaking
Most of the scenes were shot from above with the help of cranes. Most of the time it was used to show Pi standing on his raft and the comparison of his existence on the sea was very significant.
It was used when Pi was climbing down the ship stairs when the ship was sinking and he was searching for his parents. The camera moved with him and gave the feeling of sinking along with the ship. (Ebert, 2020)
Camera tricks, advanced technology and photoshopping was used throughout the film and out of 142 tiger scenes, only 27 scenes were shot with a real tiger.
The film, Life of Pi has taken maximum advantage of all available technology with respect to cinematography, graphics and colors and has succeeded in creating a truly wonderous movie making it a memorable and unique movie.
In the final analysis, just as pi is a mathematical construct that can never be fully comprehended, the Life of Pi is essentially unfathomable; as is the battle between religion, science, and spirituality. However, just as Pi finds peace within – “Solitude began. I turned to god. I survived”-perhaps the final message of the film is one that simply urges us to find peace within as well. (Meaning, Faith and The Life of Pi; Psychology today)
- Ebert, R. (2020). Life of Pi movie review & film summary (2012) | Roger Ebert. Retrieved 18 February 2020, from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/life-of-pi-2012
- Ashdown, B. K. (2013). “Faith Is a House With Many Rooms”: Religion and Spirituality in Life of Pi. Psyccritiques, 58(22).
- Duncan, R. (2008). ‘ Life of Pi’ as Postmodern Survivor Narrative. Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature, 167-183.