It doesn’t make you believe in God – but it makes a good case for 3D
“3D? Nooo! Do we really have to mum? Wasn’t there any other alternative? I hate it so much…”
My 18 year old was looking at me with a mixture of anger and disappointment. We were about to watch Life of Pi and I had hoped for one of those magical nights of shared enjoyment, bringing some glue into our relationship. Instead it looked as if we were heading for a big rift.
I made a vague gesture, a white lie that suggested that it was out of my control since it wasn’t available in any other format. But then I decided to get clean right away, since she easily could check out the screening schedules for herself. So I tried to sound as if I knew what I was speaking about and said that people whose judgement I trust had said that the 3D was fine; they had even insisted on that I should watch it that way.
She gave me one more quizzical look before putting on the glasses. I don’t think she ranks my internet acquaintances very highly. In any case it was too late to do anything about it now and besides she knew as well as I who was paying for the tickets. Resistance was futile at this point.
Two hours later we took off the plastic devices, for once more reluctantly than relieved.
“I told you!” I said, triumphantly.
And she gave me a little nod, aware of her dignity like you are when you’re 18 and in a public space. But I knew that she was just as floored as I was by what we had seen.
Life of Pi was the visually most beautiful movie I’ve watched in my life, as far as I can recall. I know: those are big words to take in your mouth, especially at my age, since I’ve watched quite a few movies in my life. But I stand by it. I really can’t think of anything like it, and the 3D doesn’t take a way a bit, especially not as long as we’re out on the sea, where I think it adds something. (The land based scenes are a different story.)
A story about storytelling
As we arrived at home, ready to share our experience with the rest of the family, we got into difficulties. My 18 year old has a very low tolerance for spoiling and insisted on that we shouldn’t even say that the major part of the film is about a boy who is adrift across the ocean in company with a tiger after surviving a shipwreck. “It’s about someone who tells a story. You need to find out the rest for yourself”, she said, and with that the conversation was over.
Actually, this one sentence “It’s about someone who tells a story”, says quite a lot about the film. If I was asked to describe Life of Pi in one word, I would say: “Storytelling”. It’s about the power of storytelling, how we tell them and why we tell them and how they ultimately can be what save our lives and sanity.
I’ve seen it suggested that Life of Pi makes you believe in God, a claim I vehemently disagree with. But I would say that the film provides a perspective on why some people choose to believe in God. And that’s a completely different story.
I’m still not convinced that the future of cinema lies in the 3D technology. Wrongly used it’s more distracting than enhancing and no matter how many Ds you bring to a movie, it can’t save it if the script and the acting is subpar. But Ang Lee certainly makes a good case for it.
Life of Pi is one of the most memorable cinematic experiences I’ve had this year, and it’s the movie that I’d be happiest to watch again, just to enjoy the spectacle of it.
Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US 2012) My rating: 5/5