Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life of Pi as a Movie - Some Thoughts

Earlier in the week, in "praising" M. Night Shyamalan for choosing non-original source material for his next project, I mentioned that I had thought a good project for him would the Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

This book has been a very popular book, both critically and by general readers.

To be honest, while I enjoy the book, it is hardly one of my favorites, in a way it is reminesce of other youth survival naratives like Gary Paulson's young-adult fiction novel Hatchet.

Life of Pi is as much about the unique character of Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel, particularly his broad pluralistic religious paradigm that allows him to worship God through the different aspects of Islam, Hindu and Christianity.

In this regard, in order to get the full "impact" of the story, it cannot just be a novel about a young Indian boy from Pondicherry who through a unique series of events ends up lost in the Pacific Ocean on a boat with a Bengal tiger, a wounded zebra, and an orangutan.

Telling this story, would mean that the majority of screen time would be filled with a single character and a tiger. With many people familiar with the source material, veering from the history, religion, and emotion of this story would be very challenging, not to mention the complexities of filming a story where an animal plays a central character, and it's not a monkey who dances around in a bikini with a cigar.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought Shyamalan could pull of this film, and at one point it was a possibility, but in 2005 M. Night Shyamalan was replaced by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien) to direct. Yet obviously, that didn't happen...and earlier this year Variety has reported that Ang Lee will be directing a film adaptation of Life of Pi.

Frankly, if I could chose a director for this project I think I would chose Richard Linklater, and this film would be handled similarly to Waking Life with different animators being able to take over different portions of this film. I think a more mature animation style would open the film up to truly explore the true nature of the text, and that animation would allow the writers ultimate freedom in telling the story. Although, I hardly think that's going to happen.

All the same, I think if Ang Lee or anyone else is capable of successfully pulling off a film adaptation of this story that their is true art and mastery in their work, because frankly I think there are far to many challenges to capture this story in a way that is engaging, captures the uniqueness of the source material, and is cinematicly cohesive.

2 comments:

Will said...

Actually, at one point Jean-Pierre Jeunet was connected to the project. In fact, I thought he still was.

To me, that was a marriage made in heaven. Ah well.

Jose said...

I would've loved to see Federico Fellini take on this a la "Satyricon".
Alas Lee will do for now...Peter Jackson would be good too...maybe.

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