The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

It doesn’t make you believe in God – but it makes a good case for 3D

with 21 comments


“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

Written by Jessica

December 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Life of Pi

21 Responses

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  1. So glad you went with the 3D and enjoyed it. Maybe your daughter will rate us more highly now haha.


    December 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    • I think her skepticism isn’t all that easy to overcome. Which probably is a good thing these days.


      December 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

  2. So glad to get your glowing recommendation. It’s been quite awhile since my wife and I have seen many movies at the theatre. We are still so aglow after seeing Anna Karenina and Les Mis this week that we are hungry for more but kind of wary that we’ve seen the best.


    December 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    • Great to hear that you’re aglow too! I’m afraid I have yet to wait for a while before I’ll get the chance to see those movies, but I’ll definitely try to see them when they finally reach our far distant country…


      December 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

  3. Great post, Jessica. I liked this one a lot the first time (saw this a second time last night and found it doesn’t hold up too well for repeated viewings) but I agree it’s visually stunning. Didn’t watch it in 3D, though. I’m sure it looks great and makes great use of the technology like Hugo did, but 3D gives me headaches.

    This is fantastic and I couldn’t agree more: “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.”


    December 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    • Thanks Fernando! I’m sad to hear it didn’t hold up that well for a second watch. I could actually imagine having it constantly playing on a wall sized home cinema (provided I had one), sound off, just watching some of the sub water scenes over and over again on repetition. So beautiful! I think the usage of 3D was better here than i Hugo. I don’t get headaches, but I’m very bothered when people look like cardboard figures, which mostly is the case. Not this time though.


      December 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  4. We’re going to see it on new years day, and i decided nevertheless to watch it in 2D. 3D annoys me so much that even when it is done well (as in Pina, for example) it takes away some of the pleasure of going to the movies. So I’m rather safe than sorry, and if it is a good film it will hold up even without the 3D.


    December 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    • Believe me, I’m VERY easily bothered by 3D, but this time… I was stunned by the beauty of it. I’m pretty certain though that it will be stunning in 2D too!


      December 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm

  5. A great movie, absolute worth the view, and the 3D is fantastic. The local cinema showed the 2D version for a single day only, and that is a good thing, so nobody can make the mistake to watch it in 2D.

    I agree with the remark about religion. I didn’t quite get it when I read the book. If you are religious and see god in everything then of course everything may remind you of god and may strengthen your faith. If you don’t, it obviously won’t. No story can convert. The religious part is interesting (more so in the book, of course, where it is elaborated a little more), but quite unconnected to the other two parts of the movie and book. It is not annoyingly missionary, but close. Luckily it is not relevant for most of the movie.


    December 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    • I haven’t read the book, so I can’t compare, but I didn’t think the movie felt missionary at all. It was definitely free for interpretations. I heard an interesting interview with Ang Lee at the BBC Weekly Film programme, where he said that the audiences in China and US had reacted to it in completely different ways. The US audience seemed to have a religious filter to it, while the Asian audience saw it in a much darker way.


      December 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm

  6. Great post! I don’t generally enjoy 3D movies. I find the 3D aspect distracting, and it makes me “drunk” — seriously, I feel dizzy and queasy afterwards. But you’ve convinced me to consider giving this one a go in 3D. The photo you posted is stunning.

    I’d like to see a movie that … as you put it … helps me understand why some people believe in God. Religion and spirituality interest me greatly. But seriously, I don’t think many people are going to experience a Road to Damascus over a movie. 🙂 I’m agnostic and don’t see myself changing anytime soon. But I can see something like this being great fodder for discussion, especially with my teens (ages 14 & 18).


    December 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    • It’s so beautiful, the photo, isn’t it? And google the film title and you’ll see a whole bunch of other equally stunning pictures. I had a hard time picking one, they were all so good.

      I definitely think this film is a very good starting point for a discussion with your teenagers. I’d say it’s suitable for those from 12 years and up. For a younger audience I think it might be a bit frightening and a little hard to grasp.


      December 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

  7. Great post Jessica. I really enjoyed Life of Pi and thought the 3D was very well done. Like you, and most people it seems, I’m not the biggest fan of 3D but it seemed clear that Ang Lee and actually taken the time to think about how to use it and it made a huge difference.

    I think if anyone says the film will make you believe in God then they have not understood the story whatsoever in any form or shape. The whole thing is about believing whatever you want to believe and accepting that some are more open minded than others and some prefer hard facts over the belief in ‘stories’ that no-one has any clear proof for. It is probably more pro-God than not, but as someone who doesn’t believe in God at all, I didn’t find it preachy in any way.

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    December 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • Thanks Terry. Yes, I’m on the same page as you in what I got from the film in terms of philosophy/sprituality. It’s definitely not force feeding you with something. And the 3D is just brilliant here.


      December 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

  8. Wow, I wasn’t sure I needed to see this in the cinema but your words about this being the most visually beautiful movie you’ve ever seen made me want to see this at the cinema.


    January 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    • Watch it. I don’t think you’ll regret it


      January 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      • Have seen it today and I wasn’t as crazy about it as you. It looks beautiful, but I just wasn’t connecting to the story. I liked the message of the movie though.


        January 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        • sorry you couldn’t connect with it. Glad you found something to like about it nevertheless.


          January 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

  9. […] 4. Life of Pi This movie is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It makes you think about questions about the nature of stories, about faith and about life and death, without going preachy. It leaves you with a room to think and breathe and form your own beliefs or non-beliefs. It made 2012 end with a bang. […]

  10. […] It doesn’t make you believe in God – but it makes a good case for 3D […]

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