I couldn’t get through the book, so now I feel the need to express my apologies to its author, Yann Martel. The film they have made of his novel, “Life of Pi,” is one of the most exquisite films I have ever seen. It has received rave reviews from everyone (Newsweek called it “stunning”), but I had to add my overwhelming reactions to this extraordinary film. Each frame is visually gorgeous and emotionally provocative. India looks like India—swarming with color. The ocean, even at its most fiendish, is extravagantly blue. When the sun comes out, it blinds you. And the nighttime sky, filled with stars, is as you remember it from your childhood. Not that Director Ang Lee needs to have his genius reconfirmed, but this fantastical picture is bound to be remembered as one of his major masterpieces. I sat enthralled as we journeyed through Pi’s childhood and his engagement with the tiger in his father’s zoo. I admired the way he earned his fellow students’ respect by filling up a room full of blackboards with the endless numbers that make up pi. (Does anyone know those numbers any further than 3.1415?) And when he becomes the sole survivor of a catastrophic shipwreck and sails for harrowing months across the Pacific with only a tiger for company, you become as parched and debilitated as he. The glistening scenes underwater. The variety of quirky animals. The flying fish and the flying birds. And the virtuoso performance of Suraj Sharma as he lives his story. I usually have mixed feelings about 3-D movies because the directors can’t resist the gimmickry and it’s often distracting. But “Life of Pi” is 3-D at its very best and delightfully integrated into the story. It’s so hard to believe that the tiger, Richard Parker, is only real some of the time. But I’ll bet you won’t be able to tell when he’s real and when he’s computer-generated!
The computer work alone took a year, and 14,000 people were engaged in the final production. This is a film not to be missed. And to all the people who worked on it, I can only say “Namaste,” or, “I bow to the divine in you.” “The Life of Pi’” is playing now in theaters throughout Los Angeles.