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Life of Pi

Introduction

Ang Lee directed an adaptation of a beautiful novel “Life of Pi” written in 2002 by Yann Martel. “Life of Pi” is a story about young Indian boy who has suffered shipwreck and had to survive in the wild environment one-on-one with nature and fierce hungry tiger Richard Parker. The story is somewhat similar to Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” whose main character had to live for many years in a desert island with an only one friend a savage Friday. Perhaps, “Robinson Crusoe” has inspired Yann Martel on writing the novel; however, the story of Pi is different from that of Defoe. Although adaptation of “Life of Pi” is based on the actual Martel’s novel, the plot of the film is somewhat different from that of the book and this difference does not make a film much better than the primary writing of Yann Martel. The paper investigates the hero and trauma effects as well as the major distinctions between an original novel and its filming by Ang Lee.

Background information

The “Life of Pi” is written in Canada in the end of 1990s. The novel’s setting is French Indian town of 1970s. First setting is Pi’s home city called Pondicherry in India; the second one is a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean; the third is Tomatlán, Mexico; and the fourth is Toronto, Canada. The story in the book is narrated mostly from the first person of Pi, except from the separate chapters that is told by someone else and emphasized by font; and the final chapter is a recount of facts in a form of a transcript of dialogue between Piscine and two Japan officials. Piscine Molitor Patel is a protagonist of this story. The tense used by the author in the novel is the past tense. One of the most significant parts of the story is the author’s note in which Martel told some background information and obscured the borders between fact and fantasy. The narrator referred to his noticeable knowledge in zoology and religious studies, he had strong beliefs in God, however, was a proponent of three religious groups.

Plot

The wholesome story of a boy called Pi can be a play of youngster’s imagination, reminders of distorted memories of what actually has happened. The readers can follow the traditional pattern of heroes suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder so intensely that it is easier for them to accept the fictional reality than the objective one. Such method of substitution of real events by a fictional one can be very helpful so that to overcome the trauma in a psychological context: “Yet, even if his story with animals is an invention, it is an effective way to survive as a moral being” (Fiamengo 137). The story of a boy who has been shipwrecked and flew in a Pacific Ocean for nearly 227 days alone with a tiger reminds me a Biblical story of the Ark of Noah. The matter is that the boy travelled along on the ship to Canada with his parents and the animals from their zoo including hyena, chimpanzee, zebra, and a tiger. After the shipwreck, Piscine was only one human who has survived in a lifeboat with his animals one by one eaten by a hyena. At last, the punishment has come and Richard Parker destructed hyena. Face to face with a ferocious tiger and the severe living conditions in a Pacific Ocean Pi had to struggle with many difficulties, overcome his fears where his only friend and enemy at the same time was a wild predator. At the end of a story, some people found Pi at the shore of some land and took him away. That shore was a point of separation of Pi and his beloved friend Richard Parker. The tiger has finally found his place on this Earth in jungles. Later, a main hero of the story confessed that his father was right: he taught him everything; Piscine would not have survived without his instructions. Yet the tiger was not a good friend of him, at the point of his departure, he did not even turn his head. Pi believed that he could see not only his own reflection in the tiger’s eyes; however, he was not able to prove it. According to Wright, “while the novel is not an allegory for the current environmental situation, the reinvention of the animal/human relationships within it provides a firm case for the fact that “the story with animals is the better story” (Wright 76). Hyena injured all the animals in the boat, and only Pi stopped it: “The hyena was tense… Just before throwing myself upon the hyena, to collect myself before the final struggle, I looked down” (Martel 72). Closer to the end of the story, it came out that the animals on the boat might refer to real persons such as orangutan Orange Juice to Pi’s mother, injured zebra to hyena to cock, and the noble Bengal Tiger to Piscine itself.

 

Comparison and Contrast

Although a movie is based on the novel, it have many slight differences from the original author’s writing script. The film consists of flashbacks where an adult Piscine speaks with Anandi the writer and tells him the story of his life. Despite the fact that at first tales of Pi seemed to be fictional, at the end the writer agreed to accept the narration as a future plot for this story. Book has similar conversations with the author. The visual elements in the film seem perfect. “Life of Pi” was shot in 3D, it is very impressing, but some moments are even unrealistic in comparison to the novel where the readers can imagine everything, where the plot is a little fictional but realistic at the same time. The structure of a novel corresponds to the structure of a movie itself. However, there are many small differences in the plot between a movie and a novel. In my opinion, some of those differences make movie even more stunning e.g. a story of love between an Indian girl from the dance circle and teen Pi. However, most elements change the plot crucially. I mean in the book Pi could not come near the tiger or even wanted to eat his face, but the movie does not represent it.

In the movie there is a scene with a whale leaping from the water above the boat, Pi, and Richard Parker; this scene is not in the novel. In addition, according to the story a writer spoke with Mamaji and only after that he decided on to talk to Pi. In the movie, the writer only heard about the story and searched for Pi to know all the details. Closer to the end of the novel, Pi has lost his sight after supplies of food and fresh water have been run out, and started talking with some voice. Piscine thought it was a voice of Richard Parker; however, he was mistaken. The man lucked food and then desperately attacked Piscine. Richard Parker was helpful and killed stranger. It is one of the fictional parts of the book. The film did not reproduce this scene. The viewers cannot just enhance all the intensity and exaltation of all those dialogues and thoughts of Pi that book reproduces. In addition, the tiger Richard Parker killed the hyena, while in the book the kill referred to Piscine. The novel is abundant with scenes of cruelty the readers might have imagine in their minds, however, film did not show them directly e.g. “She (Orange Juice) was beheaded. The neck wound was still bleeding. It was a sight horrible t the eyes and killing the spirit” (Martel 72). Recall in the memory just the scene of separation of Pi and Richard Parker. The audience hear only several magnificent words in the honor of tiger, while readers have the possibility to perceive all the emotional set e.g., “I would like to say it formally: Richard Parker, thank you. Thank you for saving my life. And now go where you must… God be with you” (Martel 155). In the end of the film, a rescued Pi had a conversation with two Japanese men who wanted a story based on dry believable facts, but not a story about a zoo and a boy. That conversation is represented in the book in the form of dialogue that made the whole story more captivating: “Mr. Chiba: ‘the story with the animals.’Mr. Okamoto: ‘Yes. The story with the animals is the better story.’Pi Patel: ‘Thank you. And so it goes with God.’ (Martel 398-99). It seems like David McGee and Ang Lee even has transformed that dialogue into the simple narration purposely, however, it made the audience feel that the movie lucks something meaningful. A protagonist is adamant at his faith in God. The book is abundant at description of Pi’s religious ponderings and researches: “We are all born like Catholics, aren’t we in-limbo, without religion, until some figures introduces us to God?” (Martel 27). The movie has only several episodes where Piscine talks about God e.g. in the cuts while talking with the writer or sole episodes of his survival in the wild nature and thanking God for His Assistance.

Conclusion

Both film produced by Ang Lee in 2012 and an original novel written by Yann Martel in 2002 are marvelous compositions of their time. Martel’s magnificent imagination has created some unbelievably captivating, sending Goosebumps down the reader’s spine masterpiece, after that Ang Lee has made an adaptation of a novel on TV screens. It is a well-known fact that the filmmakers often make light or hard changes in the scenarios of the movies based on the writer’s manuscripts. Similarly, a scenarist David McGee has made with Yann Martel’s novel while creating the scenario. It may be difficult to define what version is better, an adaptation of Lee or Martel’s novel. However, in my opinion, Martel’s book is much better. My paper investigates deep into the matter of the common sense and context, and plot of “Life of Pi” no matter it is bookish or filmic. The paper uses some quotes from the scientific books of University researchers such as Anne Janice Fiamengo, and Laura Wright, and uses direct quotations from primary source.

At the beginning, I have used some background information about the plot, time, and settings of the story etc. Then the paper tries to investigate the general and trivia differences between a novel and a book. Every detail in the paper points out that the written version is much better. While watching the film, the viewers see already created images while readers can use their imagination and work mentally and creatively. Moreover, the audience watch the adaptation with too many effects that make film almost unbelievable, fictional. A novel is written more realistically. Richard Parker behaved very aggressively throughout the film, and Pi did not try to make it tamed. However, in the book, a noble Bengal Tiger leaped through hoops after the training with Pi and made a prusten – a sound of reconcile: “I trained him to jump through a hoop I made with thin branches… it was a simple routine of four jumps” (Martel 149). Also in the end of the narration, Pi had a conversation with two interviewers from Japan who insisted on the real story but not fictional one. In the book, the conversation was held in the dialogue form of interaction but in the movie, it was a sole monologue. Dialogical form was much better to pass the message of the author to the audience, made the ending more convincing, but ambiguous. The film gives audience only one ending as it refers more to the Pi’s post-traumatic creative work of imagination. It is obvious that the book has more advantages in comparing with the film. Ang Lee and David McGee had changed the original plot essentially. This story is a story of poor boy that has witnesses the death of his whole family and his mind was injured. It is up to the readers whether to consider this story fictional or real, however, it will always be the sample of great talent of Yann Martel transformed into cooperative work of Ang Lee and David McGee. One just should watch it. For certain.

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