Yann Martel’s bestselling novel “Life of Pi” is coming to movie theaters this winter in 3-D. The trailer is online now.
A delightully inventive story about Pi Patel, a 16-year-old whose life is much changed by a shipwreck, “Life of Pi” might have been considered unfilmable. Pi survives in a lifeboat along with a ferocious tiger, an orangutan, a zebra and a hyena. Drifting for months, he sees terrible and wondrous things.
The project stopped and started with three directors — M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron and Jean-Pierre Jeunet — before getting traction with Ang Lee. He’s done both CGI (“The Hulk”) and literary adaptations (“Brokeback Mountain,” “The Ice Storm”), so he seems like the man for the job.
In 2007, Martel spoke to the A.V. Club about the tensions between books and films. “I find that movies tend to fix the aesthetics of a story in people’s minds. So it’s hard to visualize James Bond without seeing one of the actors who played him. And it’s hard to visualize Harry Potter without seeing Daniel Radcliffe,” he said. “A movie is so visually powerful, so overwhelming, that it tends to crowd out how you might have imagined things.”
In the film, Pi is played by first-timer Suraj Sharma, a student from Delhi, India, who was selected from a field of 3,000 hopefuls.
“I love cinema. I think the risk of the aesthetics being fixed is compensated by other advantages,” Martel said. “Cinema is visually powerful, it is a complete experience, reaches a different audience. It’s something I really like. I like movies.”
Martel did not adapt the screenplay. “As much as I love movies,” he said, “it would be presumptuous of me to think that I know how to make one.”
“Life of Pi” won the 2002 Booker Prize.