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Just Between Frames

"Life of Pi" Concludes Our Magical Realism Discussions

JBF concluded its look at magical realism in today's movies with "Life of Pi". Directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee, it tells the tale of a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. This was a novel that many believed could not be made into a film, according to The Guardian, "the story of an Indian boy on a literal and spiritual journey with a tiger named Richard Parker, a story open to many interpretations, had long been thought to be unfilmable. Other directors, including M Night Shyamalan and Alfonso Cuarón, had considered and rejected the complex story". Ang Lee himself expressed reservations in the same article "“Kid, water, big special effects, animals – and they have to be in a small boat on water. It seemed to be a filmmaker’s every nightmare,” he says now. “I thought it was difficult and challenging and I got geared up and decided 'I’ll be the one to do this’, but once I got into it I thought it was a dumb idea to have picked it up.”

Our group found this to be one of the best movies we've watched as a group and that it has set the group's bar for what a film using magical realism can accomplish. Whether one came away with the belief that his adventure had been allegorical or real, we felt that both versions were believably presented -- and that is Lee's great achivement with the film. We felt totally engaged by the young hero of the film, and that there was a genuine connection between he and the tiger -- and that they each came to realise that while it was based on survival, some understanding was achieved that normally would never happen -- and that this was a gift. We are all very glad to have met both Pi Patel and Richard Parker!

What else did the Academy Awards like about this film? In addition to getting Best Director and Best Visual Effects, it won Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. Additionally it was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (for the song "Pi's Lullaby"), and Best Achievement in Production Design.


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