MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By 20th Century Fox
Directed by Ang Lee. Starring Suraj Sharma, Ayush Tandon
TV pundit Bill O’Reilly spoke recently (in his annual commentary on the war against Christmas) of Christianity being a philosophy rather than a religion. Spoken like a Christian. That is what a life of faith does for you – it becomes such a part of your life that you start to assume that you can reason it out.
Life of Pi is a film that argues that faith and reason may complement each other, but they are not the same at all. This engaging family-friendly film offers up some deeper themes that are good discussion starters, and the 2002 novel by Yann Martel is a big favorite with book clubs and schools for that reason.
The film tells the fantastic story of Pi Patel, an Indian boy who grows up in the French-influenced city of Pondicherry, where his family owns a zoo. Pi is intelligent and inquisitive, especially in matters of the sprit, and he holds fast to his Hindu faith while also exploring the positive attributes of Buddhism, Islam, Jewish kabbalah, and Jesus Christ. It is to filmmaker Ang Lee’s credit that he spends so much time in the first part of the film with this religious pilgrimage. Such syncretism is far-fetched for the period of time in which the film is set (1960s and 70s), but becoming rather commonplace in the 21st century. Many Christians are discovering attributes of other religions to add to the centrality of Christ.
The Patel family is forced by changing times to move their zoo to Canada. When they are at sea, the ship on which they are sailing is torn apart by a storm and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger.
The film then becomes a story of survival and discovery as the boy and the tiger get to know and respect each other during the 227 days at sea. And the visual beauty and depth of this CGI epic is most amazing in the 3D format.
This lovely film might get lost in the holiday season shuffle between James Bond, Abraham Lincoln and Bilbo Baggins, but I encourage you to seek it out while you still can and enjoy its beauty, wonder and sense of humor.
And, depending on your mood when you see Life of Pi, you may even find moments approaching true worship. That is what sets this film apart from the pack and why I recommend it so strongly.
Four halos: A stirring adventure story that also serves as a meditation on faith and reason.
One pitchfork: For brutal off-screen animal savagery, one slang term for urination (that all little kids know) that helps explain how Pi got his name.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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