` Life of Pi (2012) …review and/or viewer comments • Christian Spotlight on the Movies • ChristianAnswers.Net
Oscar®Oscar® Winner for Best Directing, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Music (original score)
NOMINEE FOR: Best Picture, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design
Movie Review

Life of Pi

MPAA Rating: PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults Family
Genre:
Fantasy Adventure Drama Adaptation 3D
Length:
2 hr. 6 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
September 28, 2012 (festival)
November 21, 2012 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: March 12, 2013
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

being shipwrecked and adrift in the ocean, alone

based on Yann Martel’s bestselling/prizewinning novel Life of Pi

hope

faith

Pi is born a Hindu, but as a child is introduced to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions, as he “just wants to love god.” He is trying to understand God through each religion. Are there truly many ways to God? Are all religions basically the same? Answer

God

God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

Religion

answers about RELIGION, including Islam, Hinduism, and Christian

sharing Christ with Hindus

an open letter to disciples of Hinduism

What is Monism and Pantheistic Monism? Who believes in Monism? Is it biblical? Answer

MYSTICISM—Can mysticism lead to God? Answer


animal psychology / being the alpha

animals in the Bible

zookeeping / taking care of diverse types of animals


Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

Featuring: Gérard DepardieuFrenchman
Rafe Spall … The Writer
Irrfan Khan … Older Pi
Adil Hussain … Pi’s Father
Suraj Sharma … Pi Patel
Tabu … Pi’s Mother
Shravanthi Sainath … Pi’s Girlfriend
Andrea Di Stefano … The Priest
Ayush Tandon … Young Pi
Ayan Khan … Pi’s Younger brother
Vibish Sivakumar … Ravi Patel
Gautam Belur … Young Pi (at 5 years)
Director: Ang Lee—“Brokeback Mountain, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Producer: Rhythm and Hues
Fox 2000 Pictures
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“Believe the unbelievable”

Anyone who has either read the best-selling novel by Yann Martel or has seen the trailer to the film “Life of Pi” should be utterly familiar with it’s seemingly impossible premise. Simply stated, the movie follows the adventure of a zoo keeper’s son who finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Sound implausible, well not in the capable hands of director Ang Lee.

Pi Patel, is the curious son of a zoo-keeper in Pondicherry India. When the family is forced to move from India to Canada, Pi, his family and their zoo of exotic animals find themselves on a large ocean liner crossing the Pacific Ocean. When the vessel is swallowed up by a large storm Pi is tossed into a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and Richard Parker, the aforementioned 450-pound Bengal tiger, and thrust into the adventure that will change the course of both their lives.

The film itself is rated PG primarily for the action sequences in the film and the thematic premise of the protagonist being alone on a life boat with a 450-pound tiger ready to eat him for dinner. There are a handful of minor “hells” and “damns”, but other than that the film is non-objectionable to most general audiences.

An aspect of the story that some Christian audiences may find troubling is how the film deals with religion and faith, which play a key role in the story. In the course of events leading up to Pi and his family finding themselves on an ocean liner traveling from India to Canada, Pi is on a journey himself, one to find religious “truth.” In his quest he researches Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and finds himself identifying with aspects from all three major religions. The film does not take a particular stance as to which religion is best or bring Pi what he is searching for, but the role of God, capital G, plays a major part in Pi’s adventure.

To those who have read the book and were pleased with the book, chances are the film will not live up to the expectations one would have from the novel. However, it will probably not disappoint as the adaptation is very true to the book, except for a couple liberties taken by the screenwriters/director to bring the story from page to screen.

If available, do yourself a favor and see the film in 3D, though the film’s backdrop for a majority of the film is the Pacific Ocean, there are sequences in this film that are visually spectacular and only made more stunning through the perspective of 3D.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

Editor’s caution: Pi is born a Hindu, but as a child is introduced to Christianity (via Roman Catholicism) and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions, as he “just wants to love god.” He is trying to understand God through each religion. This is the book author’s way of looking at religion, and it is promoted in the film. Are there truly many ways to God? Are all religions basically the same, as some claim? No. See our answer!

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This beautiful film demands serious attention, as it is about God and a search for God, and is clearly set up allegorically. The young hero Pi in fact seeks to embrace Hindu, Christian and Islamic faiths, as well as his family’s secular modernity. While this may upset some American Christians, the Christian priest in the film does a good job modeling Christian love while explaining some challenging doctrines. Director Ang Lee left out a scene from the book where Pi encounter’s clerics from all three faiths at once, and all three act competitive and petty. The main part of the story finds Pi on the lifeboat, with attached jerry built raft, with four surviving zoo animals, soon reduced to one large dangerous tiger, in a scary but often magical sea that delivers rescuing food and land at the most necessary moments.

Allegories abound as Pi confronts himself, the Tiger and God, in a kind of Indian Pilgrim’s Progress, but what does it all mean? (or as the survivor Pi says, does it have to mean anything?) What about tiger and Pi’s “relationship” with it, his “training” it, his inability to kill it when it is vulnerable, his giving it food and water, taking its head in his lap, his thanking it and his fear of it for his survival, his feelings of sadness when it goes into the jungle after their rescue. What about the fantasy island with its false feelings of long term rescue? What about the dark alternative story he tells the investigators? Why is the interviewing author in the movie at all? What does it mean when the author chooses which is the best story, and Pi says “so it is with God”?

This is a film that demands serious attention, and hopefully its many Indian cultural aspects will not get in the way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Stanley Hirtle, age 67 (USA)
Positive—I will admit, this was a hard movie to watch, one because it started off really slow before it got to the graphics, and two because of how intense it was with the animals fighting for their lives. No, I certainly do not like movies that talk about other religions, however that is a reality of our world. At least they even talked about Christ, which might make Hindus that watch this think about Him, too. I was really glad they did talk about Christ, even though they did not point it out as the only way to heaven, of course, they are not going to, this was not a Christian movie. The graphics were amazing, and the story kept you intrigued. This is NOT a movie for children, for the scenes with the tiger are very intense and scary, until they become friends. Overall, it was a pretty good movie, suspense was good, it was funny at times, and the graphics were awesome.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 38 (USA)
Positive—I loved it. I’m a Christian, and I saw nothing offensive in the film’s respectful approach to religious faith. We can be secure enough in our own beliefs to allow the existence and exploration of other faiths. I personally find Christians that knock anything other than their own specific views very off-putting. Pi was a lovely young man on his own journey. It was visually beautiful, and it is great to see modern movies exploring spiritual and religious themes. It was a stunning and thoughtful movie, and, again, it is not meant to promote Christianity, but to tell a story and to explore the nature of faith.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Debbie, age 54 (USA)
Positive—Full of symbolism, the harsh ravages of loss, survival, animals eating each other and human death, and with a mix of faith suitable only for the mature mind, this is not really a movie for children. I took my 14 year old to see it, and, at first, she could only see the beauty of the visual aspects of the movie, and the sadness of the losses and difficulties. However, it also opened a gateway to some more in depth discussions about truth, faith, and the struggles of comprehending or believing what we have not experienced for ourselves, or at least as part of our human lives.

I was glad I didn’t take my 11 and 8 year olds, as it would have given them nightmares, at best, and confused them on their own journeys of faith, at worst. Although, in their simple childlike faith, they may have just come away asking why Pi couldn’t understand that Christ’s death for us meant he didn’t need to worry about reaching out to God through other religions. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ruth, age 33 (Australia)
Positive—I think this was an excellent and gripping film and worthwhile seeing for older children, teenagers and adults. Most of all, it is about a young Hindu boy’s spiritual journey, and for me the main theme is how he grew to give complete surrender to God for control of his present and future. There is a wonderful balance of humour with the tragedy and suspense in the film. The joke about his name is slightly vulgar, but funny all the same, and so typical of some little boys. I totally understand some people’s concerns about the different religions mentioned, and there is a slight leaning toward the idea that all religions are equal. However, as his father says in the movie—you have to choose one road and to choose all of them is to have nothing!

I prefer to concentrate on the positive Christian references contained in the film. These include Pi saying that he found Christ, the priest quotes John 3:16, Pi is shown praying and seems to pray to accept Christ, he says grace before every meal and says amen, mention is made of Jesus’ Sacrifice and how He died for the sins of many when He had not sinned, the fact that he refers to himself as Catholic first, and his request to be baptized. The way I take it is that he still has his East Indian culture, but identifies himself as a Christian. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kathy PJ, age 52 (Canada)
Positive—Let me warn the reader that this brief review contains a major spoiler and should be avoided by anyone who did not read the book and intends to see the film. First off, I am not a Christian; I am an atheist. A wager is made in the film that after you hear Pi’s story you will believe in God. Pi, now a grown man, tells his story to a young novelist: how as a teenager he survived on the ocean in a lifeboat with a hungry, aggressive, man-eating tiger. It is a story full of beauty and near miraculous occurrences. ***SPOILER*** But at the end of the story, Pi is forced to tell another version of the tale, darker, harsher, shocking—a version that, upon reflection, is obviously the true one. A question is then presented to the viewer: which story do you prefer. ***END SPOILER*** Like the young interviewer, I too chose the wonderful one, the miraculous one, the “God” story. And that is the power of this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John Calendo, age 65 (USA)
Positive—I loved this movie, both visually and spiritually. I think it was amazing that, out of all the references to other beliefs, it was very clearly stated, as Pi asked, why would a man die for our sins, and the Catholic Priest makes it clear, and the gospel has gone out to millions by that one scene.

Pi is on a journey, and his family were not faithful Hindus, nor did Pi go very far in his Muslim belief; he just wanted to know God. And since he was a child, he approached it in a childlike manner, and he met God.

I think the movie doesn’t go deeply into any belief system vs. Christianity, but clearly tells the gospel message to every viewer… that is something to be thankful for, and, for that, I am grateful to the writers.

And, of course, the movie is a wonder for the eyes, BUT TOO INTENSE for small children; it is after all a life and death journey! And Pi asks many hard questions to God, while facing death.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sharon Ulstad, age 52 (USA)
Positive—I took the time to read just about all the reviews. It is unfortunate how so many people do not know how to distill the meaning from a story. From the standards many apply to movies, the Bible would be unacceptable reading. To the movie. Was the second explanation of his voyage the true one? Unless one wants to completely ignore what happened during the storm and sinking of the ship where his mother was trapped below decks, then the second story was impossible.

Secondly, the movie made quite clear that Pi chose Christianity, evidenced by his request to be baptized. Interestingly, Pi still honored and respected his father (an atheist) which both Hinduism and Islam would struggle to do. There are so many aspects to this movie which reflect the true nature of our Lord.

Given the opportunity to kill his dangerous enemy, Pi chose instead to live with, care for and ultimately to save. The various scenes and story points demonstrated the sanctification process, the guidance of the Holy Spirit (telling him to leave the floating island) and the providence of God (throwing fish at and into his boat), just to mention a few. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Henry, age 61 (USA)
Positive—Beautifully shot; the photography and imagery set a new standard for filmmaking. Wonderful acting from the actors portraying young Pi and especially adult Pi. There are many positive lessons that can be drawn from this movie:

(1) We can choose the narrative of our lives. What sort of lives do we want to lead? What sort of impact do we want to have on others? What sort of positive outlook can we bring in the face of adversity? more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jack, age 28 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—After watching the “Life of Pi last night, the question arose would I let my brothers kids watch the film? the movie was good, it showed strength and courage and the human potential of survival when faced with life threatening situations. It also brought out the fact of the Bible that animals can be trained or tamed. It also shows the mercy of God in that He provides protection and safety for mankind when in need. For the Bible says that “God sends rain on the just and the Unjust” that His tender mercies are new each day. Pi does thank God for the miracle of providing fish, and landing at the swamp for a couple days of rest, before going back to the ocean. God is not a respecter of people. Hindu, Muslim, or Christian God mercy goes forth day to day and His provision to all His creation.

However, that does not mean that God receives the worship of all 3 religions. The Bible is clear that only those who place their faith in Christ will receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life On the bad side of this film some serious questions were raised about faith and also wrong answers were given about the Christian faith. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Brandon, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—It is not uncommon for a Hollywood produced movie to question spirituality, the existence of God, and supremacy of religion, but rarely are these doubts projected in such a powerful way as they are in Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.” The Oscar winning film is based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. The movie centers around a 17-year old Indian boy named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, the son of a zookeeper, who survives a shipwreck aboard a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.

Prior to the shipwreck, Pi, who was raised Hindu by his mother, had experimented with both Christianity and Islam. Pi discovers Christianity and Islam and incorporates the philosophies of these faiths into his Hindu lifestyle, culture, and spiritual pursuit. For example, in his prayers, Pi thanks Krishna for the salvation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Pi’s father, who has thoroughly rejected any religion, thinks that Pi is ridiculous and actually says something that seems to make the most sense of anything in the movie. Pi’s father tells him, “Believing in everything at the same time is the same as believing in nothing at all.” more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Greg, age 25 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Though this movie has some of the most awesome scenes I’ve seen in a movie, not unlike a lot of Indian/Bollywood films, which love creation and spiritual things, still I wasn’t expecting such a “aggressive” attempt at teaching Indian/Eastern religion. After the film watered down the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by making it “another” option and putting it on equal terms with Hinduism, Islam and maybe some others, I knew I had to give a heads up here for those concerned with spending money on films like this. I don’t mean just a passing comment, but about a 30 minute presentation designed to leave a strong impression.

I don’t have a problem dealing with strong issues, and we want to and do, but I’m just saying I wasn’t expecting this from what I saw from the trailer and from reviews. I thought it was just stunning scenery with a boy and tiger shipwrecked out to sea. Maybe sites like this are having an impact so much that they have to hide what the film is really about by making the movie seem like something else in the previews.

But I want to take this negative and turn it into a positive, and maybe you’ll join me. Movies are a great pastime when they are “good”. But I’ve been meaning to make more of an effort to do other things for pastime, especially considering how much I spend on movies, sometimes. Things like going to a local ball game (high school, college, professional), concert and plays, some restaurants I’ve been meaning to visit, events of interest (cultural, arts, history, science, games, , etc.), take a short trip to explore somewhere I haven’t been, take my telescope out and go to the mountains or desert, go to the gym and play basketball/volleyball, go over to some friends or families house for a visit (hmmm, maybe that shouldn’t be last). Pretty much just start living life more actively, instead of just watching it on film. …Make your/my “movie” great(er) !!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Des, age 38 (USA)
Negative—I agree with much of what’s written above, both positive and negative. Visually, the movie is stunning, at times, and some of the action sequences are riveting. However, the negatives outweigh the positives, in my judgment. One of my biggest concerns with the movie as a whole is that it’s rated PG. These days this usually means “bring your small children,” even though only G is supposed to mean that. My teenagers are able to see the attempt to portray all religions as a legitimate path to God as derisively ludicrous, but small children may not. While not portrayed visually, the actions discussed by the main character at the end are grossly brutal and completely unfit for children. Be warned.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jeremy, age 57 (USA)
Negative—The movie was very disheartening and dangerous for this reason: I would never want my children or anyone I love to think they can just choose whatever god they think will suit what they want in this life. The God who made man and who lovingly teaches that we are to acknowledge Him as the ONLY true God is the God who demands us not to worship any other god. It is understood that Hinduism can embarce many gods to the angst of those who know what is truth. It is also understandable for a person raised as a Hindu to not know the truth. That is where the Christian can help them and challenge them with the truth.

Ask any converted Hindu who knows Jesus, and they will tell you without hesitation that He alone is God whose power is far above all the powers of the gods they once believed in. Ask Rabi R. Maharaj who wrote Death of a Guru. His story is a fascinating story of the supernatural evil he experienced in following his father's life example of a Guru who experiences what living according to the Hindu religion results in. Mr. Maharaj is respectful and loving toward those who are of the Hindu religion knowing well the lies they believe and the power of those lies, but rejoicing in his knowledge of JESUS CHRIST who rescued him from the supernatural misery of the life of a Guru and the false teaching of Hinduism.

Truth exposing the lie is what makes good stories—stories of knowing Who God is—good and loving toward all He has made and wanting them to know what is truth so they will be saved from the destruction that man is born into. Only those who follow the Truth have the hope of eteranl life. That is how important it is for us to know truth. That is why this movie was very offensive. It has the potential of keeping people in the darkness of the lies they believe. It seems like such a “nice” story, and if a false premise of religion had not been so prominent in it—it would have been ok.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Claudius, age 67 (USA)
Negative—I went to this film partially because of this review, from other reviews, and because a couple of personal acquaintances encouraged me so. No problem with the quality, but the whole premise of this film is in question. There was plenty of adventure and danger, but the whole story became contrived and unbelievable. Really, in the end, it is an attempt at syncretism of Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam, and even Kabbalah. This director’s works should be avoided; be warned: you will be wasting your money and time. I think the boy actually did kill the ship’s cook…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Roy, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Please do not waste your money or time on the popular movie the “Life of Pi”; and certainly DO NOT take your children to see it! I went to see it because many said it was a “spiritual” movie. While the movie was cinematically beautiful to watch (at times), it was mostly preachy, depressing and too violent for children. As for its “spiritual” aspects; the movie was more of the same “all religions are from God… ya dah… ya dah” that we have all heard from ignorant people who have made a shallow attempt at religion. But more sadly, while this movie sent the message that all religions are legit ways to “God,” in reality… they are all just human fantasy. Life is cruel and religion is just a coping mechanism… and that’s OKAY. Whatever gets you by in this horrible life. I personally think the writer had a lot of bitterness against God and this was a jab at Him for allowing such cruelty. But that is natural for people who only relate to this world.

Indeed, it is a cruel world! But Jesus Kingdom is NOT of this cruel world, and never will be. This world is cursed and the only true remedy is to KNOW Jesus. Then we are to keep our eyes and hearts on Him and His heavenly Kingdom. Indeed, Jesus can be as Noah’s Arch during a flood. He can even prepare a lush banquet (table) before us in the presence of our enemies. We just have to stay in His Spirit! Otherwise, we too can become bitter as this life can truly deal us some severe blows!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris, age 49 (USA)
Negative—My wife and I walked out! This, as with so many films from Hollywood at the moment, is another attempt to dilute or even destroy the work of the cross. Sorry if I seem narrow minded, but Jesus paid to great a price for me to “open up my mind” and join the merry throng on the “broad road” to destruction! Avoid.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Steve, age 47 (Australia)
Negative—I went to watch this movie based on all the glowing positive ratings on this Web site. Boy, what a mistake! About 15 minutes into it, I knew that I had been misguided. I should have read the negative comments! The Life of Pi? This movie would be far better titled “The Lie of Pi!” Seriously!

To all those who gave it a positive rating, let me say this—No matter how entertaining and appealing and humorous it may be, “The Life of Pi” is spun around one big lie of the devil. The strong underlying message and basic premise of it is that all religions are equal and fully compatible with one another. Is this what the Bible teaches? more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Demitri, age 44 (South Africa)
Negative—I was highly disappointed by previous Christian reviews of this movie. They left me unprepared for its real message. This movie comes out strongly and condescendingly atheist. Moreover, it is armed with really effective writing and imagery. The author takes us through a very meaningful portrayal of suffering and the wonder of life, by a man who claims to be syncretistic. I say “claims,” because, in the end, he admits that the meaning and wonder are merely a farce and that his atheistic father was right all along. All faiths are just stories that men “prefer” to the truth, because the truth makes no sense of their suffering.

The movie was powerfully done, but that makes it more offensive, in my book, since the emotional imprint of such storytelling can do significant damage to any mind, but especially that of the young and impressionable. If you do watch it with your family, just be prepared to discuss this ubiquitous Hollywood message: God is a fantasy for the weak who need comfort. “Science” is the only truth.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Douglas Morrissey, age 41 (USA)
Comments from young people
Neutral—I saw the “Life if Pi” with my friend and did not like the movie too much. First, I thought it was a little strange that Pi followed 3 religions. I am a Christian so remembered during the movie God is the only God. Second, some scenes may be intense for young children. For example, in the beginning Pi’s dad feeds a baby goat to Richard Parker, (tiger). He does this to teach Pi how vicious the tiger really is. Pi learns from this but is scarred for life. Another example is when Pi stranded the ocean and a hyena kills a zebra and gorilla. The fill is not overly graphic, but does show blood. Overall, young viewers may find this film a little strange or frightening at some points.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Katie, age 12 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—While the story looked OKAY, at first, from what I saw in the commercials, I read that the boy becomes sort of mix in Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Spiritually speaking, this is like mixing electricity, gasoline, and fire; the result is explosively deadly. If not for that, I would see the movie. Christ cannot be mixed with Muhammad or Buddha, the latter two were false teachers, leading millions to damnation and perdition to this day.
—Peter, age 22 (USA)

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie and would like to share your observations and insights with others to be posted here, please contact us!