Book + Film Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi was I film I avoided, despite the rave reviews, because it was a film which I simply thought was not my thing. However, the bargain lover in me could not resist giving the book a read when I snapped it up for just €1 at the Boxhagenerplatz Flea Market.

When I opened the first pages of the book, I was still pretty skeptical about whether I would enjoy it or not. In fact, I was pretty sure that I would not make it to the end of the book (usually I try to force myself to read until the end but I am trying to drum the mantra ‘life is too short to read bad books’ into my head). Luckily, it turned out Life of Pi was not so bad after all. I didn’t get as stuck into it as I have with other books, but I did find myself enjoying it. Let me tell you why.

The Book Depository offer free worldwide shipping on this book!
The Book Depository offer free worldwide shipping on this book!

Firstly, a brief explanation about the book. Life of Pi is simply the story of Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a young boy from Pondicherry, India whose parents own a zoo. His parents decide to move to Canada for a new life and pack the family, along with the animals which have been sold to North American zookeepers, on board a Japanese cargo boat heading to Canada. Tragedy strikes and Pi finds himself onboard a lifeboat stranded in the Pacific Ocean with just a tiger, orangutan, hyena and a zebra for company. So, what did I like about the book? Quite simply the fact that Pi is not on the boat for the entire story (apologies if that piece of information was a spoiler of some sort). My main fear in reading the book was that, due to the fact that there is just one human being present for most of the story, I would be bored stiff reading his meandering thoughts. Thankfully, this was not the case. I can honestly say that I did not long for the existence of another character during the moments Pi is alone on the boat.

Naturally, after I read the book, I just had to see the film. As I mentioned earlier, I had previously ignored the film because I felt it would not be enjoyable for me. However, since I enjoyed the book, I thought I would see how it fared in comparison to the book. I like to do this with all film adaptations of books I have read; it is another strange pastime of mine. Specifically, I wanted to see how the story would play out with just one character, and I wanted to see the highly esteemed special effects.

The special effects were bang on, and I just saw the film in normal 2D. I can only imaging what it would be like in 3D. The colours were absolutely enchanting and it was hard to pull my eyes away from the screen even for just one minute. The story was in line with the book, something which I was relieved by as I hate when the film strays too far away from the original storyline. What was missing though was the emotion. I did not feel as attached to and anxious about Pi as I did when reading the book, except for one scene at the end with Pi and Rickard Parker which I won’t reveal. I guess this is quite often the case with books though. At least in my case, I usually find myself becoming more attached to fictional characters I find between the pages of books.

I love when I get matching book and DVD covers!
I love when I get matching book and DVD covers!

Overall, both the book and film were rather enjoyable. There was enough action for those who require such an element to a story, yet, for us softies, there is an acceptable balance of love, that is the love between family and indeed the love between human and animals, and inspiration. One definitely comes away from the Life of Pi with the feeling that anyone can succeed in life with willpower, determination and dedication.

Have any of you read/watched the Life of Pi? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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