When I spoke to Ang Lee on October 15, 2012, one thing I wanted to know first was what was the spark that let him think he could film a book that had been considered unfilmable by a bevy of studios and directors. His answer revealed both his innate modesty, and his personal spark of genius that let him see more than what was on the printed page. The conversation continued to include the ancillary role of CGI (no matter how dazzling it is), the difference between religion and faith, and why he thinks that the Hindus have the best stories. We concluded by acknowledging with a laugh that a film so dense with ideas needs days, not minutes or even hours, to fully discuss.
LIFE OF PI is a savage and lyrical tale of living in the universe on its own terms. The hero is Pi, an irrational Indian boy who accepts all faiths, but not necessarily all religions, and who chooses as his name, the most famous irrational number of all, which is both constant and transcendental. Told in flashback, his story is one of wonder, terror, and drifting across the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, with whom he forms a bond, but on the tiger‘s terms, not his. The film stars Irfan Khan and Suraj Sharma as the older and younger Pi. Lee directed from a screenplay by Scott Magee, which is based on the book of the same name by Yann Martel.