Life of Pi - Do You Believe In God ?

"Life of Pi" is a work of the writer named Yann Martel. It was published in 2001 was transformed into a movie in 2012 by a famous Chinese director named Ly An, who directed a well-known series of movies such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Lust Caution”. He has won the Oscar 3 times. Paying attention to the list of literary awards that Yann Martel's work has received, as well as the film's awards and nominations of the director, this combination between that writer and director won't disappoint you.

Life of Pi

Credit : Fox 2000


This is a work with many metaphorical meanings. For example, although I feel that the words in the work are very simple and easy to read and understand, there are many layers of deep meanings. These implications need time to contemplate. That's why every time I watch the movie, I realize another "philosophy" after watching the movie. This is also my second time  writing this review. The film attracts me by its shimmering images with full of mysterious colors.

You may be wondering that why don't the Tiger eat Pi? Why is there a whale in the middle of the ocean that jumps up and the tiny boat doesn't capsize? Why can he live a hundred days at sea despite the storms, hunger, and sun? Why are there cannibal islands? And there is another question do you believe in god, in the magic of the universe?

I watched the movie Life of Pi in 2016 and read the book with the same title in early 2019. I know that it's a famous work, so I bought the book a long time ago. But when I first saw it, I didn't understand it. Therefore, I wasn't interested in reading the story until I understood. Even though I knew the content in advance, the details in the book still made me curious. I liked the book more than the movie and the book explained the metaphors used in the movie more easily for me to understand.

The story is about a 16-year-old boy named Piscine Molitor Patel, the son of the owner of Pondicherry Zoo, India. His family consists of 4 people: Parents, Pi and brother. From an early age, Piscine was troubled by his name. He was a joke for his friends because when his name was pronounced, it is similar to the word "pee" even though he has a meaningful name. Piscine strongly stood up and asked his classmates to call him Pi (Pi=3.14), and he even memorized the whole sequence of Pi numbers written on the board as a strong assertion about the meaning of his name.

Pi is fascinated by religions. His family is both Hindu and worships Hindu Gods. And he is both Muslim and Christian. He believes in God. Pi's father teaches him lessons about the wilds of animals when he tries to get close to the tiger Richard Parker.

One day, to avoid political events in India, Pi's family decided to sell some animals, and migrate to Canada. Some of the animals that were sold to the US traveled with their families on a Japanese ship called the Tsimtsum. Unfortunately, the ship in distress sank during the night. Both the family and the people on board were killed. Fortunately, Pi survived and being pushed into a lifeboat by the crew. Some animals that had been kept in cages were also released onto the boat with Pi.

On the boat with Pi, there were a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, a hyena, a broken leg zebra and a chimpanzee named Orange Juice. They were floating on a banana boat on the sea. That hyena ate the zebra and killed Orange Juice, then the tiger Richard Parker killed the hyena. Finally, on the boat, only Pi and Richard Parker remained on sea for more than 7 months (227 days).

Throughout his journey, Pi has always put his faith in God. With his knowledge of wild animals, Pi tamed Richard Parker, hunted fishes and sea turtles to maintain his life and Richard Parker. On his journey, Pi also discovered an island that was inhabited by sea weasels. However, he quickly discovered that night came the algae on the island become scaring. And he also discovered human teeth curled deep in the leaves of the tree. He and Richard Parker quickly left the island.

When Pi was almost exhausted, Pi's boat washed up on a beach in Mexico and was helped by people. Richard Parker just got ashore and ran into the deep forest. Then someone from the Japanese insurance company came and asked Pi about the sinking of the Tsimtsum ship. Pi told his story but they didn't believe it. Finally Pi told another story. Many years later, Pi arrived to Canada and got married, the he began telling his story to a Canadian writer.

 When I watched the movie, I found it very good, but until I read the story, the meanings of faith, religion, and human ego were described more truthfully. Because in the book, the life of Pi and the family that ran the zoo or the parts such as when Pi had to catch and eat raw food or even eat humans to survive at sea while his family was vegetarian were described very carefully, I can see the details more clearly. In the movie, the filmmaker has omitted the details of the first 3 chapters that the director though that they are the foundations for his personality, as well as how Pi behaves in the upcoming life events. Because of ignoring the details that are very "naked and barbaric about survival", the film is filled with shimmering and mysterious colorful images. I like the night scene the most, the fish sparkles in the sea and the whale jumps out of the water to create a giant arc.

Life of Pi

Credit : Fox 2000


" These people refuse to realize that God must be protected within our hearts, not outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. Because the evil on the outside is just the evil on the inside that has been let out.”  

At the age of 16, Pi suffered extreme loss and pain: leaving his homeland, losing his family, difficulties, deprivation, physical and mental pains while floating at sea but Pi has strong to faith to continue living and hoping to live, instead of complaining, because things happen in the world need no reason.

“If it happens, it happens, why should it mean anything? "

There are 3 parts that impressed me the most in the book.

First, Richard Parker ran to the forest without saying goodbye and he never looked back. In the story, Pi told the story with serenity, but in the movie, Pi cried like a baby. This video also moved me, because it was like a farewell to a friend who had overcome hardships together, like Pi leaving the "brutal, beastly part of me" to survive for seven months. Now the boy with strong faith and desire to live could return to a normal human life. Richard Parker did not belong in that life. But I find the serenity in Pi's story because after all, during 7 months on the floating boat, Pi gave Richard Parker enough gratitude, he was the one wh

o saved the tiger from the sea. He also found food, and shared everything with it. Because Pi knows how to cherish and love, there is no need to regret the moment of parting.

Life of Pi

Credit : Fox 2000


The second segment is on the cannibal island. It was actually a beautiful island with full of fresh water that saved Pi and Richard Parker from starvation and exhaustion. The thought that Pi could start a new and peaceful life here but suddenly he realized that there was a full of danger. The island is also a trap of safety, making people not want to go back to their days on the sea, and gradually kill people who live on it. Pi realized that, and he filled the boat with fresh water and meat to continue stepping out of the safety zone to the mainland. Going to the sea to return to the mainland is better than dying slowly in the fullness that the island camouflages for it.

The final detail is a brief interview between Pi and two people in the insurance company. They didn't believe the story on the boat. They didn't believe in the island, they did't believe that a bunch of banana and the chimpanzee could float on the water. They only believed in the fictional story that Pi came up with. After all, people only believed what they wanted to believe, and what they've seen.

“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”

The ending is also quite ambiguous, and you can believe any of Pi's stories. Maybe the story of the beasts and the island was just an illusion. The important is  do you believe in God, in the wonders of the universe?

(I will edit this post again when I realize a new philosophy every time I watch the movie again)

 “If there's only one nation in the sky, shouldn't all passports be valid for it?”



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