Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” Generates Early Oscar Buzz

A preview of director Ang Lee’s (李安) new 3D movie, Life of Pi <少年Pi的奇幻漂流>, was shown at Las Vegas’ CinemaCom last week. The 10-minute video clip was critically praised as a beautiful and inspiring effort, generating early buzz that Life of Pi will be a strong contender in next year’s Oscar Awards!

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was based on the award-winning novel of the same title by Yann Martel. Published in 2001, the novel has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. Life of Pi featured the story of a boy named “Pi” whose family members drowned in a shipwreck. Adrift a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean for 227 days with a wild Bengal tiger, Pi struggled to survive while searching for the meaning of human existence and spirituality.

It took Ang Lee more than three years to bring Life of Pi to the big screen. Since Life of Pi was Mr. Lee’s first 3D film project, he said that there were many technical challenges that he encountered, in which he learned to overcome during the production of the movie. The wild animals, including the Bengal tiger, in the film were computer-generated and appeared extremely realistic. Mr. Lee noted that the film adaptation of Life of Pi would have been impossible to make five years ago, without the current advancements in CGI technology.

Regarding praise for Life of Pi, including early Oscar buzz, Mr. Lee remained humble. He said, “This is still an unfinished movie! Wait until you have seen the finished movie, you will be more emotionally moved!” While Mr. Lee hoped that Life of Pi will bring pleasant surprises to viewers, he hoped that the public will focus on the film’s content and not speculate on the awards that it will reap instead.

Life of Pi will be released by 20th Century Fox in worldwide theaters on December 21, 2012. Indian actor, Suraj Sharma, stars as “Pi.” The film was shot in Taichung, Taiwan, around the island’s waters as well as using a custom-built water tank.


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Jayne: Life of Pi appears to be an extremely interesting film. Would love to see the movie when it comes out!

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  1. Life of Pi is an awesome novel! I also want to watch the movie when it is out. December, must look forward to this!

  2. Life of Pi in 3D? Seriously? I read the book and it was one of the most profound and best book I have ever read, the ending makes you wonder but I choose to believe in the optimist. However it is a book that can only be read once. I am wondering how the book can be adapted, unless starring some very charismatic actor, if not it will be a total loss. The actor is not “indian” enough. I kept thinking he looked more southern, darker. Maybe it was the book cover that made me feel that way.

    In the end I actually cried out for Richard Parker like the boy did. Reminded me of Wilson and Tom Hanks!

    jayne, have you read the book? The first few dozen pages may be slow but it builds up the momentum. This is seriously a book without anything and yet has everything.

    P/s Mr Ang, you should have used a REAL bengal tiger!!

    1. Funn,
      “This is seriously a book without anything and yet has everything.”

      “Life of Pi” has been a book I have been meaning to read, but never got around to it. I would like to read it before seeing the movie though. I think the author wrote the book using deep metaphors, so thus it is up to interpretation as to what elements you read into it. I know the basic plot and who (humans or wild animals) Pi was actually stranded at sea is also up to interpretation.

      Filming with a real tiger is unecessary with current technological advancements. I’m just glad the entire film was not animated. I’m sure the finished movie will feature stunning visuals, while preserving the emotional impact. Thus, a bit of everything for everyone.

      1. It is a difficult read but once the ship sank it was a breeze. The metaphors was what the investigators chose to believe in. I like to believe and I do believe Richard Parker was a bengal tiger. It made more sense. Weird but I admire the writer for being so imaginative and yet logical. His next book was something I couldn’t finish. Too… plodding.

        Real tiger would be nice wouldn’t it? Remember the good old days of filming.. real horse, real everything. I was very disappointed to know in War Horse the horse running on the field was CGI. After a while they can even replace humans.

    2. Is it seriously nice, Funn? It sounds like of boring and slow in today’s face paced lifestyle!

      I mean in the movie… what can the actor do but wait and hang around, pondering the meaning of life…?

      Not to be disrespectful but I am over my literature in school days… Dreaming is a luxury but real life screams to be lived!

      1. I didn’t know about the book and its reputation when I bought a copy. I like the idea of the story and I wondered if the writer could actually carve a story out of it. The first few pages, I think quite a lot I almost fell asleep with the analogy and almost a thesis about zoos, animals and our hero. But once the story gets to main point, it strangely became very engrossing and the picture painted is very very vivid. It is basically a story about survival and like the character I too grew attached to the tiger. I always thought books that win those important awards are boring but surprisingly this wasn’t. But it is a book that can only be read once. I found myself unable to read it a second time.

        But it is also a very difficult movie to make so I wonder how Ang Lee will approach it. It will be mostly quiet but I suspect Ang Lee will focus on the survival issue, the storm, the hunger, the thirst, that mysterious carnivorous island, with some emotional flashback on his dead family, the sinking ship, etc. In fact it might be a great movie, depending on how charismatic the actor is. And this book does deal with religion in a very funny way, the main character is basically a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim all rolled into one. He so believe in God, he doesn’t care which one, he loves them all. I find that very funny.

        “Dreaming is a luxury but real life screams to be lived!”

        What is real life without a bit of imagination that words can offer so much more than visuals? Visuals are merely confirmation of words. Dreaming is a free luxury that everyone can afford, real life sucks for most, but do not dwell too much on dreaming and forget to live, and yet don’t focus too much on living and forget to dream. After all, all reality starts with a dream.

      2. Canto, Funn,
        “Dreaming is a free luxury that everyone can afford, real life sucks for most, but do not dwell too much on dreaming and forget to live, and yet don’t focus too much on living and forget to dream. After all, all reality starts with a dream.”

        Wah, real life sucks for most mah? If we have the luxury to gather around and gossip about entertainment topics, that means we have free moments to breathe. We’re not slaving away at our jobs (most of the time). It’s not too bad…let’s remain optimistic.

        Ang Lee also hoped that his adaptation of “Life of Pi” will deliver some emotional triggers for a family film that will make people talk for days. His films have been commercial successfully and won critics over to allow him in the esteemed position to direct movies such as “Life of Pi,” a once in a lifetime opportunity.

        I’ll guess that Ang Lee will focus less on the survival issue and more on the spiritual aspects. Such as loss of Pi’s family, emotional withdrawal when he struggles to live, but without his closest loved ones to live for anymore. He must seek out greater meaning in life to make it worthwhile to fight to survive. Otherwise it is so easy to just plunge into the ocean and give up.

        I’ll like to add that if we are movie fans (where dreams can come to life even for 2 hours), most of us may have unfulfilled dreams we yearn to chase. A balance is good. Reality can be a mixed bag of responsibilities, materialism, too much fun and games distracting us from chasing our inner dreams, etc. It’s good to take a step back and dream a bit, trying to incorporate such dreams into our current or future lives. Isn’t that what childhood is about? Dreams make us feel that anything is possible, with a whole life ahead to chase after?

      3. Yeah, I am pretty sure the movie will make it even more dramatic on the aspect of emotional loss and physical survival whereas in the book the young man was very very practical about his losses.

        Ahhh Jayne, the key to success is to just accept life sucks. When that is accepted, everything else is just peachy.

        And yes, life sucks. Just because we can steal a few minutes to gossip (power to internet in office!!!) doesn’t mean life is great. Life suck! Sucks! Sucks! Sucks!

        And now that is out of my system, I can say my life is not as bad as poor Pi though!

        And yes, luxury.. I can afford the free luxury and can’t afford the real luxury money can buy. But then, let me just say this; the essential things in life are almost always free. So yes life sucks but doesn’t suck so bad. Some people had it worse.

      4. @Canto: It’s seriously nice. The fight for life of Pi and the tiger is very interesting. They fight against each other (The tiger can eat Pi) but at the same time, they somehow have to lean on each other since there are only them, lonely in a boat in a huge sea. How the director can make this two side relationship on screen, I’m very curious.

  3. Hated the book in high school. Maybe I’ll give it a try now.

  4. Imagine a real tiger on a boat. Will it panic? haaha

    1. It will be a very professional tiger!!

      1. Funn,
        I’m glad no wild animals were tamed or harmed for the filming of “Life of Pi.” Watching wild tigers and lions being tamed to raise their paws at the circus has always made me feel uncomfortable. They are beautiful wild animals; I did not even want to think of the things done to tame them or break their spirit.

        Aside from pulling in the 3D audience, maybe this was another aspect that Ang Lee considered.

      2. That’s why I never like going to the circus to watch these pity animals being abused by selfish human

      3. I am glad there are zoos though. If not I can never see such animals up close and personal. And I like circus. It is a dying art. But those that were great, was what made my childhood.

        Wild tigers or tigers can never be tamed, no matter how they’re beaten to submission. They’re still wild. For practical reasons and cheaper as well, movie makers can’t use real wild animals. Dogs maybe, bulls of course but tigers, lions, sharks, etc, of course they are not practical in every aspect. But I am sick of CGI for everything. I just wish for a real tiger, separated from human actors by a 100 inch plexi glass or whatever they’re called.

    2. I am pretty sure tigers can swim. I don’t know how long and how far it can swim though… to find land.

      1. Lol at first i thought you’re joking Canton but i googled and my, tigers do swim.

      2. I told ya, Amy!

        I watched national geographic 🙂

  5. Ang Lee is so cool. He doesn’t make movies that fit the type cast sterotype of Asians. I hope he wins the Oscar. Will he be the first Asian director to do so?

    1. He already did. Won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain. Love Ang Lee’s films and adore him as a director. Can’t wait to see this film!

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