The film version of Life of Pi has now been released.
I read this (Man Booker Prize-winning) novel when it was first published in 2001, but remembered loving it so much – and had my interest so piqued by the technicolour preview of the movie – that I felt it necessary to be have all my mental ducks in a row and refresh my memory.
Of course, now it turns out the novel is just as impressive as I remember, this may make the film proportionately more disappointing.
It promises to be visually spectacular; sweeping and majestic, as it should. But densely woven themes of religion, love, identity, and the nature of humanity, story and truth?
How can these be communicated in a movie that must devote equal attention to giving a sense of achingly long passages of time, minutely detailed accounts of survival at sea and journeys into fantastic worlds?
I am almost sure a film will not (cannot) do this story justice within a couple of hours. This is one of those stories that can be trimmed without suffering a fatal loss of lifeblood. And really, who wants to see a movie that’s much longer than a couple of hours?
(Side note: went to see Les Miserables on the weekend, and by golly Tom Hooper did a pretty good job of it. But the length, though necessary and justified, is punishing. Whose bladder is up to such a task?)
To return to the point, Life of Pi is another of those books that leaves you staring into space, blinking, your brain working furiously, for several minutes – if not several days – after you turn the final page.
Immediately my mind had returned to reality, I hungered to watch the movie, no matter how inadequate it may prove to be. I turned to imdb.com, which reports that 50,000 people or have combined to rate it, on average, 8.3 (spot price).
Thus encouraged, I looked up what Roger Ebert had to say and was amazed to see praise heaped upon the film. He calls it a “miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery … [a book] many readers must have assumed was unfilmable.”
He calls it one of the best of the year.
Now I’m REALLY EXCITED!