‘Life of Pi’ astonishes on Blu-ray
Written by David Magee based on the novel by Yann Martel
Directed by Ang Lee
Fresh offof director Ang Lee`s best directing Oscar win, Fox Home Entertainment brings Life of Pi to DVD and Blu-ray. The tale of faith and perseverance was a 4 year passion project for most involved, director Ang Lee no exception as he jumped in both feet first. The worldwide smash cost hundreds of millions to finally bring the book many thought was ‘un-filmable’ to the screen. So how will the grand spectacle transfer over to the small screen?
Life of Pi is bookended in Montreal with a writer (Spall) who after seeking inspiration happens across the incredible story of Piscine Militor Patel (older version played by Khan), or Pi for short. Growing up in Pondicherry, India during the 1970s, Piscine has a rich life. His father (Adil Hussain) owns a zoo, and Pi spends his days among tigers, zebras, hippos, and other exotic creatures. But when Pi is seventeen (played as a teen by Sharma) his father and mother (Tabu) decide that the family must emigrate to a better life. Choosing to relocate to Canada, Pi’s parents close their zoo, pack their belongings (including some of the animals from the zoo), and board a Japanese cargo ship. But after a massive storm hits the ship sinks and only Pi miraculously survives. He is cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean aboard a boat with a most unexpected traveling companion, Richard Parker, his parent’s 450lb Bengal tiger.
Even on the home screen, Life of Pie is a visual treat. The action is stunning and excellently directed by Lee. The script is well paced and written with little left that is not necessary as the film truly does not start until after the ship goes down and both Magee and Lee know it. The bookending allows for us to meet the adult Pi first, played by Khan, which frame the film very well and keep the fantasy/storytelling aspect of the tale intact.
Irrfan Khan is excellent as the adult Pi. His performance is a studied and brilliant take on a very quiet man relaying the most difficult and trying time of his life, all while the tale he is spinning may or may not be true. Khan is commanding on screen and his presence is impactful, and despite the beautiful visuals Pi’s story provides, the audience is never let down or dreading the story cutting back to Khan’s Pi in present day. Sharma also does a good job in tough circumstances as in many situations he has nothing to act against except for a blue screen with all of the shots added in later. The rest of the cast are very background players here, with Depardieu only having 2 small scenes in total, and while none of them stick out as being particularly bad , they also have very little to do here.
The main reason that this film has garnered so much acclaim and awards are the visual effects is so expertly provides. Director Ang Lee had a specific goal in mind, when he first met the visual effects team he boldly stated that he didn’t want to just make effects for the film, he wanted to make art. What he meant was he wanted the fantastical scenes of evenings, boundless skies and crystal clear water to appear as if they themselves were living and breathing pieces of art instead of film. And the results are quite spectacular as the sequences on the boat are among some of the most beautiful captured on film. The main reason why Lee won best director lies in the way he was able to manipulate and see these images clearly while shooting on a large water tank in front of a blue screen and translates the images in his head into reality.
The Blu-ray is jammed packed with special features that highlight aspects of making the film from almost every angle. Starting with the over an hour long documentary ‘A Filmmaker’s Epic Journey’ which documents all of the film through the focus of director Ang Lee himself. The 20 minute ‘A Remarkable Vision’ talks about the process and thoughts behind creating the art of the film and ‘Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright’ shows all the methods that were used to bring the Bengal tiger Richard Parker to life. Finally the disc also includes storyboards and an art gallery of the still from the production.
A film that is beautiful to look at but also has a heart at its core, Life of Pi will be an inspirational journey that many will willingly take. The Blu-ray captures the transfer from theater to home beautifully and manages to keep the larger than life presence that it possessed in theaters. Life of Pi on Blu-ray is a must buy.
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