First of all, none of the enclosed details could be considered spoiler-ish, but it must be said of the film, for those who are unfamiliar with the novel, despite the film’s marketing this movie especially in its closing minutes is not meant for children; instead, it is a work of adults who wrestle with their sophistication and haven’t fully come to terms with it.
The opening, etched as if a children’s coloring book presents animals as if they were a part of a travelling caravan. Young Pi is a very religious youngster, who calls himself a Catholic-Hindu. “The gods were my superheroes growing up” he reads about Krishna early on in the mythologically-based comic books of India. He makes contact with Christ and even Islam early on as well. His parents don’t try to divert him from religion so much, but they introduce him to concepts like reason and science.
“Facts, fractions, and French” is the scope of education he receives at school. In the montage of school scenes the power of editor, in this case Tim Squyres, is especially felt; what reads as long, uneventful life is sped up with precision and humanity.
The first couple of days at sea is a horror story. Ang Lee never lets go the reigns, leaving production for the computer, even though the green screen cgi is constant here but used to full effect. The torment vegetarian Pi goes through is full of pathos and heart as even he has to struggle to eat a plate of fish. Comedy, nonetheless, follows as natural promptings of the heart. The melodrama subtle here runs parallel with Tom Hanks’s Castaway, expect for an inanimate volleyball, Life of Pi contains a very hungry adult tiger. The plethora of flying fish that wash across the lifeboat provide young Pi of a plentitude of manna—meat—to for a time sever his vegetarianism.
The episode of the island, whether it be delirium, dream or reality is left in the mind of Martel. The island scene is short and meant to remind the viewer that they have just witnessed a narrative exercise only to be fully divulged in the heartbreaking ending. Humanity can be even more brutal than a Bengal tiger. But in a clever way, the end delivers on its promise—the parable of Pi’s journey serves as a proof of God.