Millennium Post

New spin to spectacular

Ang Lee certainly can give a new spin to spectacular. Life of Pi takes a life of its own in big screen adaptation. Lee creates a world of breathtaking beauty — of shimmering sea and fishes — and gets about telling the philosophy behind the tale by Yann Martel. By and large, he gets across his point.

But unlike his other magnum opus Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where his vision is more fluid perhaps because he had set his tale in China — his country of origin — in Life of Pi, it seems to be hindered by the clichéd notion of India. And Lee, true to his style, builds his narrative on these clichéd ideas: his Indians are serene beings on a spiritual path, his India devoid of noise and pollution.

Though we do know that Lee is known for his obsession to compose picture-perfect frames, he does seem to have gone a trifle overboard with this compulsion. For heaven’s sake, his churning ocean is more beautiful than menacing. How are we supposed to feel the suspense when his castaway is suspended so ethereally in the middle of nowhere? It takes a lot of effort on our part to drag our attention away from the spellbindingly beautiful frames and channel it into the tale where our hero is stranded in a situation that is supposed to trigger the most elemental of the evolution theory — the survival of the fittest.  

But once we get past that and get into the crux of the matter – the interaction between the man and the beast — Lee is back in his element.  His Pi stretches the screen tautly with tension as he faces his nemesis. And when Richard Parker —the magnificent Bengal tiger — didn’t turn back to look at Pi one last time to acknowledge the harrowing times that they have been through, the close bond that they have formed over time, he breaks not only Pi’s heart, but also ours. Therein lies the mastery of Lee. For his spectacular is not dished out cold bloodedly, but with a warmth that could melt us. Oh well, we can’t really complain if he could pack in a serenely beautiful world to go with it, can we now? Chaos can wait out Life of Pi.
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