Friday, April 15, 2016

Life of Pi

When Canadian writer Yann Martel brought Life of Pi to potential publishers, no one was quite sure what to make of it. Some saw enormous value in this philosophically-inclined tale, while others hesitated over how to categorize it: was it a novel? A fable? A book about religion? Martel himself hesitated, unsure who he could trust to bring the book out without such categorical labels. Finally, UK publisher Jamie Byng wrote to Martel with such an impassioned letter that the author was persuaded to sell him the rights; the book went on to win the Man Booker Prize, the UK's most prestigious, and to sell millions of copies worldwide; in 2012, director Ang Lee's film version won numerous accolades, including a Best Director Oscar® for Lee, as well as for cinematography, visual effects, and score.

And now, long after the champagne corks have been swept off the floors of that year's post-award parties, the book continues to puzzle. Is it an allegory? A fantasy? A true story? A veiled memoir of Mr. Martel? More than 150 years ago, in 1838, another great writer similarly baffled his readers with a claim that he had come upon a great story, an unlikely tale of stowing away, being being lost at sea, and arriving at an unfamiliar shore -- and by chance, it too had a narrator whose name was a monosyllable beginning with "P." This was of course The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (whose name also, come to think of it, has one syllable and starts with "P"). Poe, having written himself into a bit of a corner when his narrator reached Antarctica, ended his book precipitously, explaining to his readers that Mr. Pym had, most inconveniently, died. Martel, happily, does not frustrate his readers in that way, though he finds many others: It is claimed, in its introduction, to be a tale that will make one "believe in God" -- but which one? Pi seems to have a conversion experience every time he visits another holy man, and it doesn't seem to occur to him that most gods are jealous, and will have no other gods before them; he even thanks the Hundu god Rama for leading him to Jesus!

There's more to come -- much much more -- but already, we seem to be at sea!

18 comments:

  1. While watching this film and reading the book this story emotionally struck me hard. I have always been one to have a soft spot for animals. It was upsetting to my how Pi lost all his family in the ship wreck and also how many animals had to die so others could survive. I felt upset that the tiger did not say goodbye to Pi but this was a realistic interpretation of wild lives instincts. I enjoyed the use of food and how it played such huge role in the book. How it is an essential part of our lives. I also enjoyed how Pi is three religions and this happens within such a short time period. I admire his acceptance of more than one religion and I feel it was a proper interpretation of many people today because it seems many people don't know what to have faith in. I would definitely recommend this book and movie to friends I feel as though there is a lot of important lessons that take place.

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  2. I initially was not excited to watch this film or read the book, as I had avoided it for quite some time. I was overwhelmingly pleased that this was part of the semester! This film spoke to me in so many ways. As you will read in my paper I felt that, besides being lost at sea, I have encountered many of the same struggles as Pi. This is definitely a book that will be read multiple times and the story itself touched me in a very personal way. I am excited to add this to my "favorites" list.

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  3. Life of Pi was an interesting read for me. I loved the fact that the main character was so open to all religions bringing out a little bit of a believer in all of us. I really liked the way that the reality of being lost at sea was prominent and not underplayed. Little things like keeping track of the food and rationing it to keep Pi sane on his endless voyage was realistic to me and made the story seem more natural. I didn’t really like the fact that in the movie Pi cried when he had to kill the fish for survival, I understand that he was a vegetarian but I felt like that was extremely unrealistic. If you had lost all of your food that was supposed to keep you alive, vegetarian or not I believe your survival instincts would kick in and you would accept having to eat fish. Overall I thought that bot the novel and the movie were as much entertaining as they were refreshing, giving you some insight into numerous religions.

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  4. I decided to write on behalf of the film because even though the book has more detail, the film is more emotional and the graphics give it that extra inch. This film made me emotional of how a little boy lost his parents and was lost at sea with a tiger who he continued to take care of. I think this book and film was a good way to end the semester because I believe it caught everyone's attention and its always a good book to read and film to watch.
    -Anna Root

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  5. "Life of Pi" was something I did not think I would have enjoyed. I ended up actually really liking it. I did not expect the ending which for me, made it that much better. I hate when a novel, and or movie is predictable. In this case, it caught me off guard with the idea that the tiger was Pi himself, and that the animals all stood for different people. I would recommend this novel and the movie. I personally went back and watched over a couple of the scenes just because I was trying to find clues to how it actually ends. All in all, I think this was a great choice for the end of the semester.

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  6. Life of Pi was an inspiring and touching story. I thought that the film and book version were both great. But like always I liked the book better. I know how difficult it must be to write a screenplay that matches the book. There is so much detail that has to be left out because not everything can fit into the movie. Overall I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had a powerful ending that made you think. I thought that this was a great way to end the semester. This was definitely my favorite book out of everything we have read.

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  7. Life of Pi was a book that I wasn't sure if I would enjoy. I actually enjoyed it more then I thought I would. I decided to write my paper on this book. I thought this book has a very good ending, as I was not sure how it would end. I thought this was a good book to end the semester with.

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  8. I enjoyed this book and the movie both were a little different, but the big picture was there. I thought that Pi's perspective on religion was interesting, the way one person can find internal peace with three different religions; an example to follow in order for this world to find peace.

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  9. I was on the fence for this one on whether I liked the book or the movie better. I loved both equally. It is difficult when trying to turn a good book into a good film; so much could go wrong. However they did a great job here and the casting director deserves a lot of credit because if the actors weren't so believable in their portrayals; it would be an entirely different film.
    Some differences between the book and the movie were in the book Pi had used his knowledge from the zoo to mostly train Richard Parker, but in the movie it seems like his attempts fail more. Plus, how they give Pi a love interest. I would have also liked to hear the prusten sound that Richard makes in the book that shows non-aggressiveness.
    But the main ideas of the story stays the same and what was important in the book is emphasized.
    Another reason as to why the movie and the book feels the same to me, is because they made me go through an emotional roller coaster ride. The book made me cry and to my embarrassment (because in public), so did the movie. But what destroyed me was the ending when Richard Parker leaves and Pi tells the other story.
    In conclusion, this was my favorite book from the semester and great to end it with!
    " I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye."

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  10. Before reading “Life of Pi” I wasn’t sure if I would like it because I knew religion was a big part of the story. However, once I started reading, I was immediately engaged due to Pi’s lengthy description of his life as the son of a zoo owner. From that point on, I found his story to be extremely thought provoking. I think the movie is a pretty good representation of the book, but I definitely liked the book better. The book allowed me to imagine what Pi was going through rather than just watching it happen in the movie. Overall, “Life of Pi” was my favorite reading from this semester.
    Mary Beth Mennucci

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  11. I was originally had no impression when I heard we were going to read this book. But after reading the book and watching the movie I really liked it. I developed a sick interest in understanding the links between Pi's first narrative and his second one. I read through his second account thoroughly and tried to link everything together in order to get a better picture of what really happened and tried to unveil all of the symbolism in the book to possible things he may have endured. I know that was not really the point or the message of the book in general but I took interest in it for those reasons. I saw it as a story of survival of the physical and psychological. Most importantly, how the first narrative helps him live with the bitter reality of his situation far after he had been through it.

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  12. Overall, this was my favorite book and movie of the semester. Personally, after I viewed the film it became one of my favorite movies. I think it so interesting how each animal in the end represents Pi. The tiger is Pi, representing his strength throughout the entire journey. Richard Parker played such a big part in this film, pushing Pi and being his companionship throughout the journey. Like Pi stated, his fear of Richard Parker kept him going. I also really enjoyed religion in this film, something I was a little iffy about! The ending was so interesting, and I'm not sure which story I prefer. I would definitely recommend both the book and movie to anyone!

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  13. I thought the film was very good. Even though the book explained more detail the film was good at making the scenes as detailed as the book. Pi is a great character in the story. I didn't think the tiger was Pi but he showed strength in who he is as the character in the story animal or not. This story was based on religion and learning about a religion is interesting. I thought the book and the movie itself was a great read.
    Lina Nop

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  14. Life of Pi is quite an interesting story. It tries to explain that it does not matter what religion you are a part of or which religion is better, the point is to have faith in what you believe is best for yourself in order to have guidance through life. No matter how difficult or impossible that Pi’s circumstances seemed or struggled he continued to keep pushing. He decided to move forward instead of giving up. Another thing that this story portrays is that when a human being is at their absolute lowest point and is completely desperate, that they will do the unthinkable. When Pi was stranded on the boat and began to suffer from starvation, he began to eat things that we did not imagine of eating. I really enjoyed this selection, it had a strong meaning.

    -Jennifer Praticante

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  15. Life a Pi, was a great book and movie. I actually loved the way the story ended because it allowed viewers to think back on what they saw, and make comparisons with each story. Nevertheless, I do wish there was a bit more information about the actual story, but the mystery keeps all readers wondering.

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  16. I really enjoyed watching this film, I have not read the novel but I must say the film had my attention throughout. I feel after watching it that it brought many excellent and thought provoking questions not just about religion but also about society as a whole and the relationships we have with our fellow human beings but also with our animals and with nature.I think the ending was great also, it really made me think about the reasoning behind Pi deciding to tell an alternate version of the story and what the meanings of each one were. I must say I am a fan of the movie and one day might read the novel as well. This was a great film to watch to end the semester!

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  17. I really enjoyed watching this film, I have not read the novel but I must say the film had my attention throughout. I feel after watching it that it brought many excellent and thought provoking questions not just about religion but also about society as a whole and the relationships we have with our fellow human beings but also with our animals and with nature.I think the ending was great also, it really made me think about the reasoning behind Pi deciding to tell an alternate version of the story and what the meanings of each one were. I must say I am a fan of the movie and one day might read the novel as well. This was a great film to watch to end the semester!

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