Ang Lee's Empathy With The Life of Pi
Life of Pi, the newest film from award winning director Ang Lee, has already been tipped as a sure fire Oscar winner. Every new review has been frantically searching for a new adverb to describe the type of 'beautiful' that Life of Pi is; the Wall Street Journal opted for "ineffably beautiful", while others have said 'sumptuous', 'dangerous' and rather less dramatically 'consistently beautiful'. So, Life of Pi is beautiful, good. But, judging by recent interviews with Ang Lee, beauty is far from merely skin deep.
Given the reactions of critics so far, being almost unanimously positive and praising, one wonders what makes something quite so beautiful. Most of the time it's hard work and dedication, and no one can accuse anyone that's worked on Life of Pi of not living up to those things, but Ang Lee's direct empathy with Pi himself will surely really have bolstered a lot of its feeling of authenticity.
"[Life of Pi is] Very much [a spiritual tale rather than a religious story]. It's not like you have a scripture you practice, it's not religious. ... Sometimes in the making of it, you have a taste of it, you feel like your faith is being tested." Lee said in an interview with Zimbio. "It is about religion because it's related to God, the creative deity. it's not really religion because of the ocean. Religion is organized. [Pi] doesn't have that societal framework so he's thrown into the abstractness, facing God. So in making the movie, I felt very sympathetic to Pi because I felt the same way."
Lee's spirituality has come across in other interviews with beauty and eloquence, that show it to be something very dear to him. Speaking to Reuters he got really quite cryptic: "To me, faith can be elusive, but... As a Taoist would say, 'That's the apple's truth.' The source of all the material comes from nothingness, illusion is working more on things you can prove. That's the principle, the essence of life, it is actually an illusion, not immaterial. That's worth pursuing. So illusion is not nothing. In a way, that is the truth. Sometimes I feel (illusions) are more of life's essence, I can trust them more than real life that is full of deceit and covering up." Does someone else care to decipher that? Anyway, while Lee isn't religious he's admitted to praying to a 'movie God', which certainly seems to have paid off.