Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) grows up in a family that owns a zoo. When Pi is 16, his father decides to move the family to Winnipeg, Canada, where he intends to settle and sell the zoo animals. They book passage on a Japanese freighter with all the animals. One night there is a storm and the ship begins to founder while Pi is on deck.
He tries to find his family, but a crew member throws him into a lifeboat before he can save them. Just as the ship falls into the sea, a freed zebra leaps from the ship to land on the boat with him. Pi then watches helplessly as the ship sinks, killing his family and the crew. After the storm, Pi finds himself in the lifeboat with the injured zebra, an orangutan, and a spotted hyena.
The hyena kills the zebra and then the orangutan. Suddenly a tiger named Richard Parker emerges from under a tarp that covers half of the boat. The tiger proceeds to kill the hyena and takes numerous swipes at Pi. The remaining story involves how Pi and the Tiger manage to coexist on the small boat in the middle of the ocean with no food or water.
The 3-D in this movie is spectacular. The tiger, Richard Parker, is at the top of the list, but in fact the entire movie benefits tremendously from 3-D. If you liked Avatar, you probably liked the marvelous animals.
Life of Pi has a real earthly animal to work with, and you can argue there is no animal on earth more beautiful or fierce than a tiger. That’s part of the genius of this movie, and I’m sure one reason James Cameron liked it so much.
That brings me to another point about this movie, its suitability for kids. Hopefully by now you understand the tiger is not a cuddly pet. Its very much a wild animal, just like you can see in nature videos. Except in this movie the tiger is a lot closer. He wants to eat Pi. Pi can’t always see the tiger.
The audience knows the tiger is going to try something, but that just makes it all the more nerve-wracking.
Director: Ang Lee
Year of Release: 2012
Character to watch: Suraj Sharma as Pi Patel.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?