Just like the character Pi in his newset film, Ang Lee has been on his own journey into unfamiliar waters over the past 4 years. “Life of Pi,” which is now playing in theaters, was by far his most challenging project, not to mention his first foray into the wonders of digital and 3D filmmaking. “3D is fascinating, and troublesome,” he states in his soft and welcoming voice, “It is an art form, one that we don’t fully understand.”
The film, based on Yann Martel’s best selling 2001 book of the same name, tells the story of young Pi Patel, who becomes stranded on a life boat with a bengal tiger having survived a shipwreck. Throughout the story, the two endure a grueling physical and emotional journey that bonds them forever, and like many of his films, Lee has once more created a compelling tale that stays with you long after the screen goes dark. Like most of his work, the cultural setting of Pi is far away from what Lee is comfortable and knowledgeable about — which he prefers.
“Culturally, the further away I am the better, because it’s more exciting that way,” he says, smiling. Like the novel on which it’s based, Lee’s film interprets faith in a peculiar way, setting the stage for the audience to perceive as they wish rather than offering a solid thesis. As Lee points out, “Faith is not something you can prove, it’s beyond that. It requires you to take a leap, and trust something you can’t prove.” Lee’s leap of faith was in bringing this story to life, which he’s done so brilliantly. The film has many strengths, but the visuals are by far the most awe inspiring aspect. Though this is his first digital and 3D film, Lee has managed to create one of the most beautiful films to this date, and one that is sure to be a groundbreaker for the future of 3D.
To have the kind of filmography skills of Lee is an achievement in itself, but perhaps the most inspiring part about him is that with every project, he strives to do something he’s never done before. “I like to see my whole career as a prolonged film school, just learning to make movies.” With “Life of Pi,” Lee can cross beautiful 3D achievement off the list.
Life of Pi, starring Suraj Sharmaand Rafe Spall, is rated PG. Now playing in theaters. 127 minutes.
Foghorn Grade: A+