I just got back from watching Life of Pi and it is hands down the most phenomenal film I have seen all year. And now it’s two in the morning and I have class in a few hours but I have feelings and I’m gonna write about them.
I first read this book back in 2009 for my high school English class. When I first heard they were turning it into a movie, I was psyched but somewhat apprehensive. The book is powerful. It’s insightful. It’s exciting. And it’s all narrative. There’s little dialogue and action. It hooks you with the sheer thrill of survival and keeps you with the stabbing pain of loss and human suffering. Who could take such a story and turn it into an electrifying whirlwind worthy of the silver screen, inspiring enough to grab an audience’s attention, deft enough to balance the subtleties of raw emotion and special effects.
I don’t know how Ang Lee (director) and Claudio Miranda (cinematographer) did what they did but the result was absolutely breathtaking. From beginning to end, I was hooked. Spine-tingling shots imprinted in my mind’s eye leave me speechless, even now. Dramatic scenes drew me in so completely, I forgot where I was. Very rarely do movies have the ability to take you in and wrap themselves so closely around your mind like that. The story itself is so compelling, you can’t help but become attached. I had the same experience watching the movie that I had when I read the book years ago. I felt human. I felt alive.
Over the summer, I interned at Twentieth Century Fox out in LA. I was in the publicity department for domestic movies so during the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to do some work for the film. Nothing major of course, mostly assisting with press screenings and conferences. The first press screening I helped out with was a small one. Only one journalist was stopping by. The three of us – the reporter, my supervisor, and I – sat alone in the large Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot. Our 3D glasses at the ready. I had seen nothing of the film yet, and I had no idea what to expect. We were showing two scenes, and my supervisor had talked them up a lot to the reporter. The atmosphere in the pitch blackness of the theater those few seconds before it began were charged with anticipation. And then it started. It was the scene where the ship sinks and Pi is tossed out into the raging storm in the lifeboat. When it finished, we all sat in stunned silence. Before I even had time to process my thoughts, the second scene began. Pi, Richard Parker, and the flying fish. It left me exhilarated. From that day forward, I told anyone who would listen that this movie was going to be phenomenal and I could hardly wait until I could watch it in its entirety.
I had another internship this past summer, working in the communications department of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Part of my job was to look up daily clips relating to the Oscars or the movie/entertainment industry. Near the end of the summer, once the press for Life of Pi started picking up, I saw it moving up in the predictions, especially for Best Picture and Cinematography.
There is not a doubt in my mind that come Oscar time, this movie will surprise everyone. I would love to see Suraj Sharma get a nod for his performance. Not an outright win because I do believe the category is more of a commemoration for an established career based on a single role. But the way he carries the movie. The way he reaches into your heart and brings you into his story. It deserves to be recognized somehow. Slumdog Millionaire surprised everyone back in 2009 winning eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. I have a feeling Life of Pi just might be the Slumdog of 2012. Only better. So much better.
I recommend this film to anyone. I recommend the book to everyone. I hope this movie gets all the attention and recognition it deserves. There is some serious competition at the Oscars this year, no doubt about that. But no one can say after watching this movie that it is not a serious contender. After all, crazier things have happened at the Oscars. Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio.