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Life of Pi (film)

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Title: Life of Pi (film)  
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Subject: Ang Lee, 85th Academy Awards, 18th Critics' Choice Awards, Visual Effects Society Awards 2012, Adil Hussain
Collection: 2010S Adventure Films, 2010S Drama Films, 2012 3D Films, 2012 Films, 20Th Century Fox Films, American 3D Films, American Adventure Drama Films, American Films, Castaways in Fiction, Dolby Atmos Films, Dune Entertainment Films, English-Language Films, Fiction with Unreliable Narrators, Films About Castaways, Films About Orphans, Films About Religion, Films About Solitude, Films About Survivors of Seafaring Accidents or Incidents, Films About Tigers, Films Based on Canadian Novels, Films Directed by Ang Lee, Films Set in India, Films Set in Mexico, Films Set in Montreal, Films Set in the 1970S, Films Set in the Pacific Ocean, Films Set on Islands, Films Shot in Andhra Pradesh, Films Shot in Kerala, Films Shot in Kuala Lumpur, Films Shot in Maharashtra, Films Shot in Montreal, Films Shot in Puducherry, Films Shot in Taiwan, Films That Won the Best Original Score Academy Award, Films That Won the Best Visual Effects Academy Award, Films Whose Cinematographer Won the Best Cinematography Academy Award, Films Whose Director Won the Best Director Academy Award, Films with Live Action and Animation, Imax Films, Magic Realism Films, Seafaring Films, Solitude in Fiction
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Life of Pi (film)

Life of Pi
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Gil Netter
Ang Lee
David Womark
Screenplay by David Magee
Based on Life of Pi 
by Yann Martel
Starring Suraj Sharma
Irrfan Khan
Rafe Spall
Adil Hussain
Gérard Depardieu
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography Claudio Miranda
Edited by Tim Squyres
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 28 September 2012 (2012-09-28) (NYFF)
  • 21 November 2012 (2012-11-21) (US)
Running time 127 minutes[2]
Country United States[3][4][5][6][7]
Language English
Budget $120 million[8]
Box office $609,016,565[8]

Life of Pi is a 2012 American 3D adventure drama film based on Yann Martel's 2001 novel of the same name. Directed by Ang Lee, the film's adapted screenplay was written by David Magee, and it stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.

The storyline revolves around an Indian man named Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, living in Canada and telling a novelist about his life story and how at 16 he survives a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

The film had its worldwide premiere as the opening film of the 50th New York Film Festival at both the Walter Reade Theater and Alice Tully Hall in New York City on September 28, 2012.[9]

Life of Pi emerged as a critical and commercial success, earning over $609 million worldwide. It was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards which included the Best Picture – Drama and the Best Director and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. At the 85th Academy Awards it had eleven nominations, including Best Picture, and won four (the most for the evening) including Best Director for Ang Lee.[10]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Development 3.1
    • Pre-production 3.2
    • Production 3.3
    • Post-production 3.4
    • Music 3.5
  • Distribution 4
    • Marketing 4.1
    • Theatrical release 4.2
    • Home media 4.3
  • Reception 5
    • Box office 5.1
    • Critical reception 5.2
    • Controversies 5.3
    • Accolades 5.4
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


A Canadian novelist named Yann Martel meets an Indian man, Pi Patel, with some knowledge from Pi's late father's friend, known to Pi as "Mamaji", for a good book. Pi tells Yann his life story.

In a flashback, Pi's father named him Piscine Molitor after a swimming pool in France. By the time he reached secondary school, he changed his name to "Pi" (the Greek letter, π) because he was tired of being called "Pissing Patel" (due to the pronunciation of his name). Pi's family owned a zoo, and Pi took great interest in the animals, especially a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. When Pi tries feeding Richard Parker through the cage bars, his enraged father runs in and tells him that Richard Parker is dangerous and would kill him if it had the chance, and so his father forces Pi to witness Richard Parker killing a goat to prove his point. Pi is raised Hindu and vegetarian, but at 12 years old, he is introduced to Christianity and then Islam, and decides to follow all three religions as he "just wants to love God". His mother supports his desire to grow, but his father, a rationalist, tries to convert him to his own way of thinking.

When Pi is 16, his father decides to move the family to Canada, where he intends to settle and sell the zoo animals. Pi's family books passage on a Japanese freighter named Tsimtsum. During a storm, the ship founders while Pi is on deck. He tries to find his family, but a member of the crew throws him into a lifeboat. As the ship falls into the sea, a freed zebra jumps onto the boat with him, breaking its leg as it lands. Pi watches helplessly as the ship sinks, killing his family. After the ship disappears, Pi sees what he believes is a survivor struggling in the ocean. He calls out to the 'survivor' who swims towards the lifeboat, however it turns out to be Richard Parker. Pi attempts to prevent the tiger from entering the boat with an oar, however it climbs in anyway.

After the storm, Pi finds himself in the lifeboat with the injured zebra, and is joined by an orangutan who has survived the sinking on a floating crate of bananas. A spotted hyena emerges from a tarpaulin covering half of the lifeboat and snaps at Pi, forcing him to retreat to the end of the boat, while it kills and eats the zebra, and later fights the orangutan, eventually killing it too. Later, Richard Parker emerges from under the tarpaulin, killing the hyena and attempting to attack Pi, who distracts it by throwing a rat into its mouth. Richard Parker then retreats under the tarpaulin and does not emerge for several days.

Pi retrieves biscuits, water rations and a hand axe from the lifeboat and builds a small raft to stay at a safe distance from Richard Parker. He begins fishing and is able to feed Richard Parker. He also collects rain water for them to drink. When the tiger jumps into the ocean to try and hunt fish, Pi considers letting it drown but ultimately helps it climb back into the boat. One night, a humpback whale breaches and lands on the rope connecting the raft to the lifeboat, completely destroying the raft. Pi loses most of his supplies, forcing him to eat fish for the first time in his life. Pi trains Richard Parker to accept him in the boat and realizes that caring for Richard Parker is keeping him alive.

Weeks later they reach a floating island of edible plants, supporting a mangrove jungle, fresh water pools, and a large population of meerkats. Pi and Richard Parker eat and drink freely and regain strength. At night, the island transforms into a hostile environment: Richard Parker retreats to the lifeboat and the meerkats sleep in the trees while the fresh water pools turn acidic and digest the dead fish in the pools. Pi discovers that the island itself is carnivorous after finding a human tooth embedded in a flower. The next day, Pi and Richard Parker leave the island.

Some time later, the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico. Pi is crushed emotionally that Richard Parker does not acknowledge him before disappearing into the jungle. Pi is rescued and brought to a hospital. Insurance agents for the Japanese company that owned the freighter interview him, but do not believe his story and ask what "really" happened. Pi tells a different story, in which he shares the lifeboat not with animals, but with his mother, a Buddhist sailor with a broken leg, and the cook. In this story, Pi says that the cook killed the sailor in order to eat him and use him as bait. In a later struggle, Pi's mother pushed her son to safety on a smaller raft before the cook murdered her and threw her body overboard. Pi then took the knife and killed the cook, and managed to survive on the cook's flesh until reaching Mexico. The insurance agents are not satisfied with this story either, but they leave without questioning Pi any further.

Next, Yann notes the parallels between the two stories: the orangutan was Pi's mother, the zebra was the sailor, the hyena was the cook, and Richard Parker was Pi. Pi asks which story the writer prefers, and Yann chooses "the one with the tiger" because it is "the better story", to which Pi responds, "Thank you. And so it goes with God". Glancing at a copy of the insurance report, Yann sees that the agents wrote that Pi survived 227 days at sea with an adult Bengal tiger, meaning they had also chosen to record the more fantastic story.


  • Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, the film's protagonist
  • Rafe Spall as Yann Martel, the real-life Canadian novelist who wrote this story.
  • Tabu as Gita Patel, Pi's mother
  • Adil Hussain as Santosh Patel, Pi's father
  • Ravi Patel, Pi's older brother:
    • Ayan Khan as Ravi, age 7
    • Mohamed Abbas Khaleeli as Ravi, age 13/14
    • Vibish Sivakumar as Ravi, age 18/19
  • Gérard Depardieu as the Cook
  • Po-Chieh Wang as the Sailor
  • Shravanthi Sainath as Anandi, Pi's teenage girlfriend
  • Andrea Di Stefano as the Priest
  • Elie Alouf as Francis "Mamaji", Pi's uncle

Pi was named after the Piscine Molitor's swimming pool because its water is crystal clear.



"I wanted to use water because the film is talking about faith, and it contains fish, life and every emotion for Pi. And air is God, heaven and something spiritual and death. That's how I see it. I believe the thing we call faith or God is our emotional attachment to the unknown. I'm Chinese; I believe in the Taoist Buddha. We don't talk about a deity, which is very much like this book; we're not talking about religion but God in the abstract sense, something to overpower you."

—Ang Lee, on the use of water and the spiritual element of Life of Pi, November 17, 2012.[11]

Life of Pi is directed by

External links

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  10. ^ Brooks, Xan (February 25, 2013). "Ang Lee wins best director Oscar for Life of Pi".  
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  12. ^ a b Zeitchik, Steven; Horn, John (May 27, 2010). Life of Pi' suffers another blow"'".  
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  20. ^ Patches, Matt (November 22, 2012). Life of Pi' Newcomer Suraj Sharma Reveals Ang Lee's Acting Boot Camp"'".  
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  28. ^ Bierly, Mandi (February 24, 2013). "Oscar-nominated cinematographers explain how they envelop you in the story".  
  29. ^ A Glimpse of Rhythm & Hues (Asian Facilities) Work on Ang Lee's Masterpiece, 'Life of Pi.' "
  30. ^ Making of Life of Pi: In Conversation with R&H
  31. ^ Rhythm & Hues Taps NVIDIA Technology for Life of Pi . Animation World Network, November 26, 2012
  32. ^ A First Mate Bares His Fangs: Creating a Tiger for ‘Life of Pi’. New York Times, November 16, 2012
  33. ^ Rhythm & Hues Makes Skies Soar, Computer Graphics World, November 27, 2012
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  35. ^ 'Life of Pi's' digital magic. The Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2013
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  38. ^ a b "Life of Pi: a tiger’s tale", Fxguide, November 26, 2012
  39. ^ Vfx team dares to take tiger by the tail. Variety (magazine), December 15, 2012
  40. ^ Video essay: The animal menagerie of Rhythm and Hues," British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine, December 21, 2012
  41. ^ "Local touch to Life Of Pi", New Straits Times, November 26, 2012
  42. ^ "‘Life of Pi’ Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. October 14, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Life of Pi Available November 19, 2012". Sony Music. KOTA News. October 25, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012. 
  44. ^ Pomerantz, Dorothy (November 21, 2012). "Why I Hope 'Life of Pi' Will Succeed at the Box Office (Even Though I Know It Won't)".  
  45. ^ Horn, John; Fritz, Ben (November 19, 2012). Life of Pi' a huge gamble for 20th Century Fox"'".  
  46. ^ Cunningham, Todd (November 20, 2012). Life of Pi" and "Rise of Guardians" Debut, but It's Still "Twilight" Time at Box Office""". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  47. ^ Smith, Grady (November 21, 2012). "Box office preview: 'Breaking Dawn' headed for Thanksgiving win".  
  48. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (October 30, 2012). "Hurricane Sandy: 'Life of Pi's' unfortunate coincidence".  
  49. ^ Subers, Ray (November 21, 2012). "Forecast: 'Guardians,' 'Pi' Target Family Audiences Over Thanksgiving".  
  50. ^ Chitwood, Adam (November 16, 2012). "Two New Featurettes for Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI Focus on the 3D and Creating a CG Tiger". Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  51. ^ Ahearn, Victoria (November 23, 2012). "Man Booker judges still proud of honouring Yann Martel’s Life of Pi".  
  52. ^ The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey. Google Books. October 30, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  53. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 1, 2011). Life of Pi' Moves Back One Week to Avoid 'Hobbit' Film"'".  
  54. ^ Life of Pi Blu-ray and DVD, January 29, 2013
  55. ^ Broadwater, Casey (March 8, 2013). "Life of Pi 3D Blu-ray Review: The Rime of the South-Asian Mariner". Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  56. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for Thanksgiving, November 21–25, 2012".  
  57. ^ "'Life of Pi' is second Hollywood film to gross more in China than U.S. –". December 16, 2012.
  58. ^ "少年派下线 国内票房5.7亿". December 26, 2012. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  59. ^ "少年派三连冠破四亿". December 11, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  60. ^ McClintock, Pamela (January 24, 2013). "Box Office Milestone: 'Life of Pi' Crosses $500 Million Worldwide". Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
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  63. ^ "Mexico Box Office Index".  
  64. ^ "Peru Box Office Index".  
  65. ^ Bhushan, Nyay (January 11, 2013). Life of Pi' Becomes 2012's Highest-Grossing Hollywood Release in India"'". hollywoodreporter. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  66. ^ "Ang Lee's LIFE OF PI top Hollywood Grosser of 2012 in India". January 11, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  67. ^ Bhushan, Nyay. Life of Pi' Becomes 2012's Highest-Grossing Hollywood Release in India"'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  68. ^ "Life of Pi Hong Kong Box Office". HK Neo Reviews. February 24, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
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  71. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 20, 2012). "Life of Pi".  
  72. ^ Travers, Peter (November 20, 2012). "Life of Pi". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  73. ^ Borah, Parmita. "Life of Pi – a fascinating story". EF News International. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  74. ^ Sharkey, Betsy (November 20, 2012). "Review: 'Life of Pi' is a masterpiece by Ang Lee".  
  75. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (November 2, 2012). "James Cameron: 'Life of Pi' 'breaks the paradigm' of 3-D movies".  
  76. ^ Gout, Marjolaine. "Review: 'Life of Pi' by Ang Lee". Ecran Large. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  77. ^ Quill, Greg (November 23, 2012). "Yann Martel on Life of Pi: Author gives 3D movie by Ang Lee thumbs up".  
  78. ^ Scott, A. O. (November 20, 2012). "Plenty of Gods, but Just One Fellow Passenger".  
  79. ^ Schager, Nick (November 23, 2012). "Life of Pi Is the Story of How Important Life of Pi Is".  
  80. ^ Bradshw, Peter (December 20, 2012). "Life of Pi – review". London:  
  81. ^ Corliss, Richard (Top 10 Movies of 2012). "Top 10 Movies of 2012". TIME. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  82. ^ Thomas Faunce "Life of Pi's Acidic Island a Warning of Our Warming World. The Conversation. January 27, 2013 (accessed Jan 27, 2013).
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  84. ^ "Twitter / WSJ: Anne Hathaway on Life of Pi:". January 10, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  85. ^ Samarth Goyal (May 26, 2013). "I would’ve made a different Life of Pi: M Night Shyamalan".  
  86. ^ Hart, Elly (February 28, 2013). "Life In The Movie Business: An Inside Look At The VFX Crisis". Gizmodo Australia. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  87. ^ [VFX protest at Oscars: images from the picket line + audio interview]
  88. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (February 25, 2013). "Biggest Oscars snub: A shark attack on the VFX industry | The Big Event | an blog". Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
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  91. ^ Giardina, Carolyn. "Oscars 2013: VFX Artists Blast 'Disgraceful' TV Moments". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  92. ^ Life After Pi (Official Video)
  93. ^ Documentary Chronicles Bankruptcy of Visual Effects Firm Rhythm & Hues
  94. ^ Revealing ‘Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi’ Doc Exposes Grief, Anger and Troubled Business (Video)
  95. ^ YouTube Documentary ‘Life After Pi’ Chronicles Collapse of Rhythm & Hues (Video)
  96. ^ 'Life After Pi,' doc on fall of visual effects house, to debut
  97. ^ a b c A Case of two lullabies, Business Standard dated March 16, 2013.
  98. ^ Life of Pi: Is Bombay Jayashri's Oscar nominated song 'Pi's Lullaby' not original?
  99. ^ Irayimman Thampi Trust alleges plagiarism
  100. ^ "Oscars – The Nominees". The Academy Awards of Motion Pictures and the Arts. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  101. ^ "Oscars 2013: the full list of winners". London: The Guardian. February 25, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 


  • Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films

See also

Life of Pi was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won four (more than any other film from 2012): Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Cinematography (Claudio Miranda), Best Visual Effects (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan de Boer and Donald R. Elliott) and Best Original Score (Mychael Danna).[100][101] It was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and won for Best Original Score. The film also won awards for cinematography, film editing, sound effects and original score at several other awards ceremonies. In addition to the academy award, Ang Lee won best director awards from the Kansas City, Las Vegas, and London Film Critics. The film was awarded the Best Picture award by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society and was named one of the top ten films of the year by the New York Film Critics and the Southeastern Film Critics.


The New York Times reported in 2002 on the similarities between the book by Yann Martel on which the film is based and Max and the Cats, by Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar, published in 1981. The book tells the tale of "a Jewish youth who survives a shipwreck and ends up sharing a lifeboat with a panther."

A trust named after Carnatic musician Irayimman Thampi has accused Bombay Jayashri's Oscar-nominated song "Pi's Lullaby" of not being an original composition.[97] The trust has alleged that the first eight lines of the song is a word-by-word translation of composer Thampi's renowned lullaby in Malayalam Omanathinkal Kidavo. Jayashri has denied the allegation.[97][97][98][99]

Despite the Oscar for Best Visual Effects at the 2013 Academy Awards, Rhythm & Hues Studios (who provided most of the visual effects for the film) was forced to file for bankruptcy on February 11, 2013, citing unfair competition from subsidized and tax exempt foreign studios.[86] This sparked a demonstration of nearly 500 VFX artists who protested outside the 2013 Academy Awards.[87] Inside, during the Oscars, when R&H visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer brought up R&H during his acceptance speech for Life of Pi, the microphone was cut off.[88] This started an uproar among many visual effects industry professionals, changing profile pictures on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to show the green key colour, in order to raise awareness for what is happening to the effects industry.[89] In addition, director Ang Lee was criticized by the protest leader for his failure to thank the effect industry, "Ang thanked the crew, the actors, his agent, his lawyer and the entire country of Taiwan right down to the team that built the wave-pool on the soundstage where Pi was shot. But failed to mention hundreds of artists who made not only the main character of the tiger, but replaced that pool, making it look like a real ocean for 80% of his movie."[90] He was also criticized for earlier complaining about the costs of visual effects.[90][91] In February 2014, Christina Lee Storm and Scott Leberecht released the documentary Life After Pi to YouTube.[92] The documentary details the role Rhythm & Hues played in Life of Pi as well as the consequent bankruptcy. Bill Westenhofer also discusses his experience at the Oscars as he accepted a Visual Effects award for Rhythm & Hues' work on Life of Pi.[93][94][95][96]


"Though Lee did a wonderful job, I think my film would have been different from his version. Different perspectives, I guess. When I was approached to do the film, I wanted more time. The production house wanted me to do it right away, but I’m sure they had their reasons. It took them six years to find another director."[85]

M. Night Shyamalan, who was originally approached to adapt the novel into a movie, praised Ang Lee's "wonderful job" but acknowledged he would have done it differently:

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Anne Hathaway said the film is one of her "favorite films of all time".[84]

On his Twitter page, Actor Russell Crowe has praised the film, calling it "amazing" and a "beautiful film".[83]

The film has been described as containing a "subtle, artistic warning" about the dangers of increased anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and ocean acidification, the acidic island Pi and Richard Parker encounter being compared to Castello Aragonese in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples and Richard Parker's final dismissive departure representing the "not too pleasant face of Gaia (see Gaia hypothesis)."[82]

Richard Corliss of Time selected the film as the third-best movie of 2012, as well as calling it the next "Avatar."[81]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times was critical of the film's narrative frame, arguing that "the movie invites you to believe in all kinds of marvelous things, but it also may cause you to doubt what you see with your own eyes – or even to wonder if, in the end, you have seen anything at all." Scott further criticized the film for repressing the darker themes of the tale.[78] Nick Schager of The Village Voice also panned the film stating "A stacked-deck theological inquiry filtered through a Titanic-by-way-of–Slumdog Millionaire narrative, Life of Pi manages occasional spiritual wonder through its 3-D visuals but otherwise sinks like a stone."[79] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 2 out of 5 stars, and states "despite some lovely images and those eyepopping effects, it is a shallow and self-important shaggy-dog story – or shaggy-tiger story [....] It deserves every technical prize going."[80]

"I’m happy it works so well as a film. Even if the ending is not as ambiguous as the book’s, the possibility that there might be another version of Pi’s story comes at you unexpectedly and raises the same important questions about truth, perception and belief."[77]

Yann Martel, the author of the novel on which the film is based, found the film to be a "delightful" adaptation, saying,

According to French journalist Marjolaine Gout, the movie is "a philosophical tale where Noah’s Ark metamorphoses into 'The Raft of the Medusa'". She adds that it is "a visual masterpiece" in which "Ang Lee proves, once again, his talent as a universal storyteller". She also writes about the visual poetry of the movie reminding viewers of the works of classical painters and the symbolic of kolams. The film got 8 out of 10 stars, the readers gave 7 stars.[76]

"Life of Pi breaks the paradigm that 3-D has to be some big, action fantasy spectacle, superhero movie [....] The movie is visually amazing, inventive, and it works on you in ways you’re not really aware of. It takes you on a journey, and unless you’ve read the book – which I hadn’t – you have no idea where that journey is going. It does what good 3-D is supposed to do, which is, it allows you to forget you’re watching a 3-D movie."[75]

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, renowned director James Cameron highlighted the use of 3D in the film stating that

"There is always a poetic aesthetic that Lee brings to his best work – the brutal martial arts ballet of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or the homophobic hatred against the backcountry grandeur of Brokeback Mountain, which would win him an Oscar for directing in 2006. In Life of Pi, certainly given its technological achievements, the filmmaker has raised the bar. Not since James Cameron's breathtaking blue Avatar in 2009 has 3-D had such impact."[74]
critic Betsy Sharkey referred to the film as a "masterpiece," stating that Los Angeles TimesThe

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Life of Pi 4 out of 4 stars, referring to it as "a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery" as well as "one of the best films of the year." He particularly praised the film's use of 3D that he described as "deepen[ing] the film's sense of places and events."[71] Comparatively, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone highlighted the use of 3D in the film suggesting that "like Hugo, from Martin Scorsese, Life of Pi puts 3D in the hands of a worldclass film artist. (Ang) Lee uses 3D with the delicacy and lyricism of a poet. You don't just watch this movie, you live it."[72] Parmita Borah of Eastern Fare says, "There is this one scene in particular where the entire ocean is covered with jelly fish which makes you feel like 'this is what heaven must look like'."[73]

Life of Pi received widespread critical acclaim, with praise directed towards the visual effects, Ang Lee's direction, David Magee's screenplay, Mychael Danna's musical score, and the editing. It has an 87% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 225 reviews. Its consensus reads "A 3D adaptation of a supposedly 'unfilmable' book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible — it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding."[69] On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 79 out of 100, based on 44 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[70]

Critical reception

As of May 8, 2013, Life of Pi has grossed $124,772,844 in North America, and $484,029,542 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $609,006,177.[8] During its opening on the extended Thanksgiving weekend, the film debuted in 2,902 theaters throughout the United States and Canada and grossed $30,573,101.[56] The film did well internationally and is one of the few Hollywood films to earn more in China than in the United States.[57] On the Chinese mainland, from November 22 to December 24,[58] the film topped the box office for three weeks,[59] and grossed over $91 million.[60] As of January 24, 2013, it had also topped the box office for three weeks in Australia,[61] Chile,[62] and four weeks in Mexico[63] and Peru.[64] The film became the biggest Hollywood hit of the year in India[65][66] and is also estimated to be the third-highest grossing Hollywood release of all time in the country behind Avatar and 2012.[67] Life of Pi has earned HK$45,058,653 (US$5.8 million) at the Hong Kong box office, making it the highest grossing Ang Lee film in Hong Kong.[68]

Box office


Life of Pi was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D in North America, on March 12, 2013.[54] The film's 2D Blu-ray release contains many special features, including a one-hour making-of special entitled A Filmmaker's Epic Journey, two featurettes focusing on the film's visual effects, as well as two behind-the-scene looks at storyboarding and pre-production artwork. In addition, the film's 3D Blu-ray release contains five deleted scenes and a featurette entitled VFX Progressions that takes a look at what was shot and how it evolved to be what was rendered on screen.[55]

Home media

Life of Pi had a wide release in the United States on November 21, 2012 in both traditional and 3D viewing formats. It was originally scheduled to be released on December 14, 2012, but when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was announced for the same release date, Life of Pi was postponed a week. It was then shifted a month in advance.[53]

Theatrical release

During the marketing campaign for Life of Pi, the film was promoted as "the next Avatar" in trailers and TV spots.[49] James Cameron, the director of Avatar, later became the subject of two featurettes that focus on the film's 3D and computer-generated imagery.[50] In addition, the original novel was re-released in a movie tie-in edition.[51] This was later followed by the release of The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey, a book by Jean-Christophe Castelli that details how Life of Pi was brought to the big screen.[52]

Whether or not Hurricane Sandy would affect the film's publicity was also a question. Because the film includes a massive storm, it was speculated that the recent storm might result in lower box office revenue due to the unintentional overtones of Sandy's devastation. A Fox spokesperson made note that there were no plans to change the film’s marketing approach.[48]

Due to the film's holiday release, Life of Pi '​s financial success had been under review. Dorothy Pomerantz of Forbes said, "It looks like chances are very slim that the film will earn back its production and marketing costs let alone turn a profit." Pomerantz attributed this to the fact that film was not led by a big name star and faced other winter blockbusters.[44] John Horn and Ben Fritz of The Los Angeles Times compared the film to Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a large-budget 3D film that opened during the 2011 Thanksgiving week. They said that Life of Pi could have ended up like Hugo by "failing to connect with moviegoers" and become a "financial failure."[45] Similar speculation had been made by other news sources.[46][47]



. Mychael DannaAll music composed by

The film's musical score was composed by Mychael Danna, who previously wrote the music to Lee's films The Ice Storm and Ride with the Devil. A soundtrack album of the music was released by Sony Music on November 19, 2012.[42] The album features the track "Pi's Lullaby", which was co-written by Danna and Bombay Jayashri, who performs the song in Tamil.[43]

Life of Pi: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Mychael Danna
Released November 19, 2012
Genre Soundtrack, Indian Classical Music
Length 65:10
Label Sony Music
Producer Mychael Danna
Mychael Danna chronology
Life of Pi
Devil's Knot


Additional visual effects studios that worked on the film include MPC, yU+co, Buf, Crazy Horse Effects, Look Effects, Christov Effects, Lola VFX, Reliance Mediaworks, and Stereo D.[38]

Artist Abdul Rahman in the Malaysian branch underscored the global nature of the effects process, saying that "the special thing about Life of Pi is that it was the first time we did something called remote rendering, where we engaged our cloud infrastructure in Taiwan called CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects)."[41]

The R&H VFX (Visual Effects) Supervisor Bill Westenhofer said that discussions of the project began with Ang Lee in August 2009.[35][36] Westenhofer noted that Lee "knew we had done the lion in the first Narnia movie. He asked, 'Does a digital character look more or less real in 3D?' We looked at each other and thought that was a pretty good question."[37] He also stated that during these meetings, Lee said, "‘I look forward to making art with you.’ This was really for me one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on and the first chance to really combine art with VFX. Every shot was artistic exploration, to make the ocean a character and make it interesting we had to strive to make it as visually stunning as possible.”[38] Rhythm & Hues spent a year on research and development, " building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation" to develop the tiger.[39] The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine suggested that, "Life of Pi can be seen as the film Rhythm & Hues has been building up to all these years, by taking things they learned from each production from Cats & Dogs to Yogi Bear, integrating their animals in different situations and environments, pushing them to do more, and understanding how all of this can succeed both visually and dramatically."[40]

The lead visual effects company for Life of Pi was Rhythm & Hues Studios (R&H). 3D effects for the film were created by a team of R&H artists in Los Angeles, Mumbai and Hyderabad (India), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Vancouver (Canada), and Kaohsiung (Taiwan).[29][30][31][32][33][34]


Principal photography for the film began on January 18, 2011 in Puducherry at the Holy Rosary Church in Muthialpet. Filming continued in Puducherry until January 31 and moved to other parts of India, including the popular hill station of Munnar in Kerala, as well as Taiwan. The crew filmed in Taiwan for five and a half months in Taipei Zoo, an airport in Taichung, and Kenting National Park, located in Pingtung County where Lee was born.[24][25] The ocean scenes of the film were shot at a giant wave tank built by the crew in an abandoned airport.[26] The tank is known as the world’s largest self-generating wave tank, with a capacity of 1.7 million gallons.[27] With production scheduled to last two and a half months at the tank, cinematographer Claudio Miranda assisted in the tank's design in order to get the most out of it for lighting, explaining, "We knew we were going to be inside there shooting for 2.5 months, so it was worth it to be able to do anything we want. On all these kind of scenes, we had an idea of what the weather would be like. In that tank, I can create storm clouds, nightfall. We had curtains that I can block out [light], doors to open and let in real sunlight,” Miranda says. “So lighting-wise, [the movie] had a big ebb and flow."[28] After photography was completed in Taiwan, production moved back to India and concluded in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[19]


In April 2011, it was announced that Tobey Maguire would be joining the film in the role originally referred to as "a reporter."[22] However, in September 2012, it was announced that Lee had cut Tobey Maguire from the film. Lee justified the cut by stating that he did it "to be consistent with the other casting choices made for the film, I decided to go with an entirely international cast."[23] Like Shahrukh Khan, Lee described Maguire's presence also as "too jarringly recognizable." He reshot the scenes with Rafe Spall in the role later referred to as the Writer.[23]

After 3,000 young men auditioned for the film's lead, in October 2010 Lee chose to cast Suraj Sharma, a 17-year-old student and an acting newcomer.[19] Upon receiving the role, Sharma underwent extensive training in ocean survival, as well as in yoga and meditation practices to prepare for the part.[20] Two months after Sharma was cast, it was announced that Gérard Depardieu would play the role of the Cook, Irrfan Khan would play the adult Pi. It was also announced that Adil Hussain would play Pi's father, while Tabu was in talks to play the role of Pi’s mother.[21]

Suraj Sharma plays Pi at age 16.


Lee stated that water was a major inspiration behind making the film in 3-D: "I thought this was a pretty impossible movie to make technically. It's so expensive for what it is. You sort of have to disguise a philosophical book as an adventure story. I thought of 3-D half a year before 'Avatar' was on the screen. I thought water, with its transparency and reflection, the way it comes out to you in 3-D, would create a new theatrical experience and maybe the audience or the studio would open up their minds a little bit to accept something different."[11] Following the premiere of the film, Lee stated that his desire to take risks and chances helped with his direction, saying "In a strange way it did feel like we're the vessels, we have to surrender to movie god. We have to let things happen. I just had this feeling, I'll follow this kid to wherever this movie takes me. I saw the movie start to unravel in front of me."[18]

Cuarón decided to direct Children of Men instead, and in October 2005, Fox 2000 Pictures hired Jean-Pierre Jeunet to direct the film. Jeunet began writing the adapted screenplay with Guillaume Laurant, and filming was scheduled to begin in mid-2006, partially in India.[16] Jeunet eventually left the project, and in February 2009, Fox 2000 Pictures hired Ang Lee to direct the film.[17] In May 2010, Lee and the producer Gil Netter proposed a reported budget of $120 million, at which the studio balked, placing the project's development on hold for a short time.[12] David Magee was hired to write the screenplay, as Lee began to spend several months looking for someone to cast as Pi.

[15] Shyamalan said in 2006, "I was hesitant [to direct] because the book has kind of a twist ending. And I was concerned that as soon as you put my name on it, everybody would have a different experience."[14] to become the director.Alfonso Cuarón, and Fox 2000 Pictures decided to find another director. In March 2005, they entered talks with The Village after Lady in the Water Ultimately, Shyamalan chose to film [13]

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