One thing about reviewing all of the Best Picture Nominations is that I am seeing films I would have never seen otherwise.  In the case of Beasts of the Southern Wild it was unfortunate.  In the case of Life of Pi (now available on Amazon) it is most fortunate!  Forcing yourself to see movies not usually in your viewing habits is a great way to expand your horizons and get new insights into the human experience.  I was speaking to a friend of another faith who said that seeing Life of Pi was a Spiritual experience for her, so I knew it had to be the next movie we review for you.

 Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. After growing up in the French colony Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.

   The hallmark feature of Life of Pi is the imagery.  While Pi is at sea he experiences all sorts of natural phenomena.  From fierce storms to reflective glass seas each scene seems to take on a separate setting.   

   One would think that spending 90 minutes watching someone at sea would start to get old.  The Life of “Pi Chart” above does a great job letting you know how the time is divided.  I will never forget that tiger’s name because he probably says “Richard Parker” a hundred times.  But these things don’t really get stale.  Because Richard Parker has claimed the main lifeboat as his, Pi must fashion himself a raft from supplies he is able to sneak out of the boat.  Pi learns all sorts of tricky ways to use the supplies from a survival manual in the boat.  These are all really interesting to watch.  He is like an Indian MacGuyver!

    Early on in the film he learn that Pi has been spending his youth trying to know God.  He was born Hindu from his mother, and gains reason and logic from his father.  Through his childhood he also joins the Christian and Muslim faiths.  His family him about this.  His father says there is no difference from believing everything and believing nothing.  I think there is some truth in that, although I am sure the author did not intent that.  Although I do see there are parts of truth and good in all faiths.  I was always intrigued by the fact that just about every ancient civilization has a story of the earth being flooded. Greek, Hindu, Judeo-Christian, Islamic cultures all have a great flood in their histories.  (Which is also how I prove my Dragons are real theory, but that is for another day) Only one Flood story is true and accurate.  As well, only one faith is God’s plan for us.  During Pi’s time as seas he explores his relationship with God, but it is not as poignant as I was expecting.

   M. Night Shyamalan must have been a creative consultant on this story because the end of the film has a real twist and make you rethink the movie you just experienced.  It is two days later and I am still thinking about it!  Feel free to post your thoughts on that below, but make sure you warn before posting spoilers.

   It is refreshing to have a family friendly film in the line up for Best Picture.  Some scenes of animal fighting might be a little intense for very young audiences, you could take just about anyone to see Life of Pi and feel unashamed.   

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