Life of Pi: A cinematic journey open to your interpretation

Suraj Sharma at the press conference of Ang Lee's Life Of Pi (2012) at New Delhi.

(WACH) - The story of a boy who survives the unthinkable could be a personal reflection of your interpretation of God. That's pretty heavy for a movie that, at first glance, looks like a cartoon.

Award winning director Ang Lee pulls out all the stops when it comes to imagery on this film. The elegance of his cinematography on Brokeback Mountain is equaled in Life of Pi. Although primarily computer generated, the stunning visuals are intoxicating and when viewed in 3-D, takes you to the edge of fantasy without going over.

The story begins by introducing you to the lead character Piscine, known as Pi (portrayed by Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Kahn) as a typical boy in India trying to fit in with his classmates. His high intellect and desire for greater understanding soon has Pi investigating the worlds religions. Instead of committing to one organized belief system, Pi is able to value the teachings of Christ, Buddha, and Krishna as he becomes familiar with each respective deity, something that confuses and frustrates his father who would prefer he remain a loyal Hindu. Pi's happy-go-lucky childhood is interrupted when his family learns they must leave India and take the family business, a zoo, with them. During the passage on a Japanese ocean liner, disaster strikes and the ship goes down taking Pi's family to the bottom of the sea. Pi and several zoo animals, including a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, end up in a life raft together navigating fear, hunger, stormy seas and a carnivorous floating island.

The viewer must decide whether this is simply a tale of a boy on a boat with a tiger, a rationalization of dissimilar events, a hallucination, or possibly the effects of post traumatic stress. My personal interpretation is an allegory for comparative religions as well as the Earthly experience of a spiritual journey, with Pi representing the soul (eternity), the boat representing life (sometimes clam, sometimes frightening), with the animals on the boat depicting common components of our humanity (one is destructive, one is wounded, one is intelligent and emotional, and one, the tiger is noble and brave) The parallel stories with identical results might ask the open-minded to consider that all religions contain the same fundamental truths, however we choose which "story" feels more comfortable to us. I told you it was heavy.

But hey, perhaps I'm reading into things WAY too much... maybe it is just a story about a boy on a boat with a tiger. In my opinion, the whole point of the movie is to interpret what it means to you, and in doing so, it has the potential to illuminate how you view this world as well as the universe.

Not bad for $10.