December 11th, 2012, by Rob

Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a 2012 American adventure drama film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. Directed by Ang Lee, the film is based on an adapted screenplay by David Magee, and stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu, Tabu, and Adil Hussain. Visual effects are by Rhythm & Hues Studios.

The film is about a 16-year old boy named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, who suffers a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The film received highly positive reviews from critics. Life of Pi has a 88 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from 168 critic reviews.




Movie2k Watch Movies – Life of Pi – Plot

Pi Patel, an immigrant from India living in Canada, is approached by a local novelist who has been referred to him by his “uncle” (a family friend), believing that Pi’s life story would make a great book. Pi relates an extended tale:

He is named “Piscine Molitor” by his parents after a swimming pool in France. He changes his name to “Pi” when he begins secondary school, because he is tired of being taunted with the nickname “Pissing Patel”. His family owns a local zoo, and Pi takes an interest in the animals, especially a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (after a clerical error); to teach him the reality of the tiger’s nature as a carnivore, Pi’s father forces him to witness it killing a goat. He is raised Hindu and vegetarian, but at 12 years old, he is introduced to Christianity and then Islam, and starts to follow all three religions. As an adult he states that he is Catholic-Hindu, and when asked if he is also Jewish, he replies that he lectures in Kabbalah at the university.

When Pi is 16 (and experiencing first love), his father decides to close the zoo and move his family to Canada, transferring the animals in the zoo in the process. They book passage with their animals (to be sold in North America) on a Japanese freighter named the Tsimtsum. The ship encounters a heavy storm and begins to sink while Pi is on deck marveling at the storm. He tries to find his family, but a crew member throws him into a lifeboat; from the rough sea, he watches helplessly as the ship sinks, killing his family and its crew.

After the storm, Pi finds himself in the lifeboat with an injured zebra, and is joined by an orangutan who lost her offspring in the shipwreck. A hyena emerges from the tarp covering half of the boat, and before long begins to attack and eat the injured zebra, killing it. To Pi’s distress, the hyena also mortally wounds the orangutan in a fight. Suddenly the tiger Richard Parker emerges from under the tarp, and kills the hyena.

Pi finds emergency food and water rations on the boat, and builds a small raft of floatation devices so that he can stay at a safe distance from the tiger. Realizing that he must feed the tiger to protect himself, Pi begins fishing, with some success. He also collects rain water for both to drink. At one point, he helps the desperate tiger climb back into the boat after it had jumped off to hunt fish. In a nighttime encounter with a breaching whale, Pi loses much of his supplies. Faced with starvation, he eats raw fish. After many days at sea, Pi realizes that he can no longer live on the tiny raft and trains the tiger Richard Parker to accept him in the boat. He also realizes that caring for the tiger is keeping him alive.

After weeks longer at sea, near the end of their strength, they reach a floating island of edible algae supporting a forest, fresh water, and a large population of meerkats. Both Pi and Richard Parker eat and drink freely and regain strength. But at night the island transforms into a hostile environment, with the fresh water turning acidic. Pi finds a human tooth inside a plant and concludes that the plants are carnivorous, requiring them to leave the island.

The lifeboat eventually reaches the coast of Mexico. Finally back on land, Richard Parker stumbles away from Pi and stops at the edge of the jungle. Pi expects that the tiger will turn toward him and acknowledge him. But instead he looks into the jungle for a while and goes in. Pi is distraught when rescued and begins to weep as he is taken to hospital.

In hospital, insurance agents for the Japanese freighter come to hear his account of the incident. They find his story unbelievable, and ask him to tell them what “really” happened, if only for the credibility of their report. He answers with a less fantastic but detailed account of sharing the lifeboat with his mother, a sailor with a broken leg, and the ship’s cook. In this story, the cook kills the sailor, and then Pi’s mother, to use them as bait and food. Pi kills the cook in revenge.

In the present, the writer notes parallels between the two stories: the orangutan was Pi’s mother, the zebra was the sailor, the hyena was the cook, and Richard Parker, the tiger, was Pi himself. Pi asks him which story he prefers; he chooses the story with the tiger, to which Pi responds, “And so it is with God.” Glancing at a copy of the insurance report, the writer notices a closing comment about the remarkable feat of surviving 227 days at sea, especially with a tiger–meaning that the agents chose that story as well.




Movie2k Watch Movies – Life of Pi – Cast

Irfan Khan as Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, adult
Suraj Sharma as Pi, age 16
Ayush Tandon as Pi, age 11/12
Gautam Belur as Pi, age 5
Tabu as Gita Patel, Pi’s mother
Adil Hussain as Santosh Patel, Pi’s father
Gérard Depardieu as the Cook
Bo-Chieh Wang as the Sailor
Rafe Spall as the Writer
Shravanthi Sainath as Anandi, Pi’s teenage girlfriend
Andrea Di Stefano as the Priest
Vibish Sivakumar as Ravi Patel, Pi’s older brother, age 18/19
Mohamed Abbas Khaleeli as Ravi, age 15
Ayan Khan as Ravi, age 7

Movie2k Watch Movies – Life of Pi – Production

Life of Pi – Development

Life of Pi is directed by Ang Lee and based on a screenplay by David Magee. The screenplay is adapted from the 2001 novel of the same name written by Yann Martel. Before Lee, the project had numerous directors and writers attached, and the Los Angeles Times credited Fox 2000 Pictures executive Elizabeth Gabler with keeping the project active. Gabler in February 2003 had acquired the project to adapt Life of Pi into a film. She hired the screenwriter Dean Georgaris to write an adapted screenplay. In the following October, Fox 2000 announced a partnership with M. Night Shyamalan to direct the film. Shyamalan was attracted to the novel particularly because its protagonist also comes from Pondicherry (Puducherry) in India. The partners anticipated for Shyamalan to direct the film adaptation after completing The Village. Shyamalan also replaced Georgaris as the screenwriter, writing a new screenplay for the film. Ultimately, Shyamalan chose to film Lady in the Water after The Village, and Fox 2000 Pictures decided to find another director. In March 2005, they entered talks with Alfonso Cuarón to become the director. Shyamalan said in 2006, “I was hesitant [to direct] because the book has kind of a twist ending. And I was concerned that as soon as you put my name on it, everybody would have a different experience.”

Cuarón decided to direct Children of Men instead, and in October 2005, Fox 2000 Pictures hired Jean-Pierre Jeunet to direct the film. Jeunet began writing the adapted screenplay with Guillaume Laurant, and filming was scheduled to begin in mid-2006, partially in India. Jeunet eventually left the project, and in February 2009, Fox 2000 Pictures hired Ang Lee to direct the film. In May 2010, Lee and the producer Gil Netter proposed a reported budget of $70 million, at which the studio balked, placing the project’s development on hold for a short time. David Magee was hired to write the screenplay, as Lee began to spend several months looking for someone to cast as Pi.

Life of Pi – Pre-production

After 3,000 men auditioned for the film’s lead, in October 2010 Lee chose to cast Suraj Sharma, a 17-year-old student and an acting newcomer. Upon receiving the role, Sharma underwent extensive training in ocean survival, as well as in yoga and meditation practices to prepare for the part. Two months after Sharma was cast, it was announced that Gerard Depardieu would play the role of the Chef, Irrfan Khan would play the adult Pi, and Adil Hussain would play Pi’s father, while Bollywood star Tabu was in talks to play the role of Pi’s mother.

In April 2011, it was announced that Tobey Maguire would be joining the film in the role originally referred to as “a reporter.” However, in September 2012, it was announced that Lee had cut Tobey Maguire from the film. Lee justified the cut by stating that he did it “to be consistent with the other casting choices made for the film, I decided to go with an entirely international cast.” Lee described Maguire’s presence as “too jarringly recognizable.” He reshot the scenes with Rafe Spall in the role later referred to as the Writer.

Life of Pi – Production

Principal photography for the film began on 18 January 2011 in Pondicherry, India at the Holy Rosary Church in Muthialpet. Filming continued in Pondicherry until 31 January and moved to other parts of India, as well as director Ang Lee’s home country, Taiwan. The crew filmed in Taiwan for five and a half months in Taichung and Kenting National Park, located in Pingtung County where Lee was born. In Taiwan, the ocean scenes of the film were shot at a giant wave tank built by the crew in an abandoned Taiwanese airport. The tank is known as the world’s largest self-generating wave tank, with a capacity of 1.7 million gallons. After photography was completed in Taiwan, production moved back to India and concluded in Montreal, Canada.

Life of Pi – Post-production

The lead visual effects company for Life of Pi is Rhythm & Hues Studios (R&H) which has its corporate headquarters in El Segundo, California. 3D effects for the film were created by a team of artists from all of the R&H divisions, including locations in Mumbai and Hyderabad (India), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Vancouver (Canada), and Kaohsiung (Taiwan). Artist Abdul Rahman in the Malaysian branch underscored the global nature of the effects process, saying that “the special thing about Life Of Pi is that it was the first time we did something called remote rendering, where we engaged our cloud infrastructure in Taiwan called CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects).”

The R&H Visual Effects Supervisor Bill Westenhofer said that discussions of the project began with Ang Lee in August 2009. He also noted that during these meetings, Lee said, “‘I look forward to making art with you.’ This was really for me one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on and the first chance to really combine art with VFX. Every shot was artistic exploration, to make the ocean a character and make it interesting we had to strive to make it as visually stunning as possible.” Additional visual effects studios that worked on the film include yU+co, Buf, Crazy Horse Effects, Look Effects, Christov Effects, Lola VFX, Reliance Mediaworks, and Stereo D.

The film’s musical score was composed by Mychael Danna, who previously wrote the music to Lee’s films The Ice Storm and Ride with the Devil. A soundtrack album of the music was released by Sony Music on 19 November 2012. The album features the track “Pi’s Lullaby,” which was co-written by Danna and Bombay Jayashri, who performs the song in the Tamil language.




Movie2k Watch Movies – Life of Pi – Distribution

Life of Pi – Marketing

Due to the film’s holiday release, Life of Pi’s financial success has been under review. Dorothy Pomerantz of Forbes said, “It looks like chances are very slim that the film will earn back its production and marketing costs let alone turn a profit.” Pomerantz attributes this to the fact that film is not led by a big name star and faces other winter blockbusters. John Horn and Ben Fritz of The Los Angeles Times compared the film to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, a large-budget 3D film that opened during the 2011 Thanksgiving week. They said that Life of Pi could have ended up like Hugo by “failing to connect with moviegoers” and become a “financial failure.” Similar speculation had been made by other news sources.

Life of Pi was referred to as “the next Avatar” in trailers and TV spots. James Cameron, the director of Avatar, was the subject of two featurettes that focus on the film’s 3D and computer-generated imagery.

Whether or not Hurricane Sandy would affect the film’s publicity was also a question. Because the film includes a massive storm, it was speculated that the recent storm may result in lower box office revenue due to the unintentional overtones of Sandy’s devastation. A Fox spokesperson made note that there were no plans to change the film’s marketing approach. Leading up to the film’s release, the original novel was re-released in a movie tie-in edition. This was later followed by the release of The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey, a book by Jean-Christophe Castelli that details how Life of Pi was brought to the big screen.

Life of Pi – Release

Life of Pi had a wide release in the United States on 21 November 2012 in both traditional and 3D viewing formats. It was originally scheduled to be released on 14 December 2012, but when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was announced for the same release date, Life of Pi was postponed a week. It was then shifted a month in advance.

The film had its worldwide premiere as the opening film of the 50th New York Film Festival in both the Walter Reade Theater and Alice Tully Hall on 28 September, 2012.





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