Ang Lee's new film 'Life of Pi' has 'Brokeback' similarity

Courtesy PhotoSoul and spirit: Director Ang Lee ponders weighty issues in the visually dazzling film adaptation of the best-selling book “Life of Pi.”

Courtesy PhotoSoul and spirit: Director Ang Lee ponders weighty issues in the visually dazzling film adaptation of the best-selling book “Life of Pi.”

Ang Lee’s new film, “Life of Pi,” has some things in common with his Oscar-winning “Brokeback Mountain.” Both focus on two distinctive characters who bond with each other while they are isolated from the rest of the world.

Aside from these similarities, “Life of Pi” is different from anything else Lee has done so far.

Based on the novel by Yann Martel, the movie is about a young man who survives a shipwreck and is stranded in a lifeboat at sea — with a Bengal tiger.

Lee spent a year mapping out the lifeboat sequences before funding was even secured for the project, which had baffled many filmmakers before him.

“It was difficult for me,” says Lee, who visited San Francisco to promote the movie. “I'm dramatically trained. I’m not a visual artist. I usually don't even do storyboards. I rehearse the scene and decide how to go about it to portray the feeling and conflict. But with this one I had to, because it was so unfathomable.”

Yet Lee conjured up some of the year's most dazzling 3-D sequences, particularly of the ocean’s monumental movements.

The Taiwanese-born filmmaker, who was educated in the United States, shot the movie's entire middle section using a tank.

“It's a bad idea to go out to the ocean,” he says. “You have no control. That's why all the water movies are way overbudget. Still, just a little amount of water is so difficult. You feel so helpless.”

These crucial sequences explore relationships between man and beast, and with the universe.

Before the shipwreck, the main character, Pi (Suraj Sharma) is shown embracing various religions. But in the lifeboat, he finds his situation has little to do with religion; it involves something more spiritual and primal.

Then there’s the question of whether the tiger — known as “Richard Parker” because of a paperwork mistake – has a soul and is capable of bonding with a human.

At one point, a character explains that animals have no souls. When humans look into the eyes of animals, they see only themselves reflected back. During his adventure, Pi begins to believe the opposite.

“We have that need to reach out,” Lee explains. “It's a paradox. That's how I felt about this whole thing. We don't know. If we did, there wouldn't be such a movie.”

Ang LeeartsentertainmentLife of PiMovies

Just Posted

Badly needed rain cooled off pedestrians on Market Street in The City on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Storm door opens in San Francisco — what will the rains bring?

‘Come Monday, fire season in Northern California should be done’

Newly appointed City Attorney David Chiu will play a key role in an upcoming legal battle between gig economy companies and The City. (Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)
City Attorney David Chiu faces immediate test in major gig economy lawsuit

DoorDash and Grubhub are suing San Francisco over price controls

FILE — In-N-Out Burger, the popular California fast-food chain, is resisting San Francisco's public health rules that require indoor diners to show proof of vaccination. (J. Emilio Flores/The New York Times)
When it comes to San Francisco vaccine rules, In-N-Out should heed Biblical advice

Burger chain’s vaccine fight distracts from its tasty burgers and French fries controversy

The Walgreens at 4645 Mission St. in The City is among those slated to close. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Walgreens says it’s closing five SF stores due to crime. Where’s the data?

Walgreens should be transparent, enlighten city leaders about crime’s effect on business

Lake Hennessey, a reservoir for Napa, looked dry in June. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday issued a proclamation extending the drought emergency statewide and asked residents to redouble water conservation efforts. (Mike Kai Chen/New York Times)
Newsom declares drought emergency across California

State closed out its second-driest water year on record

Most Read