"Technical marvel". "Mind blowing". "A bounteous celebration of the natural world." Yes I too (don't you roll your eyes at me!) am talking about Life of Pi, and no, I'm not disagreeing with any of that praise. Because a marvel in its cinematography it is. In my opinion though, it was well set up for runaway success even before it hit the screens - sumptuously shot, ravishingly coloured and based on a Booker Prize winning novel. The likelihood it wouldn't deliver? Nil.
As the film drew to an unexpected close though and we slowly ushered ourselves out, a distinct murmur of debate hung in the air; "Which story do you think was true?". "I don't understand the twist". "I think the human story is much more believable". Now, as most movies go, a story is told about people, places or events over a certain time period - from start to finish. Simple. But this time round, film-goers expecting nothing more than a fanciful, colourful adventure out at sea were caught off-guard by the finale.
If you've read the book, you already knew what was coming. And also understood why. Lets think this through - did Yann Martel win the Booker Prize for telling yes, the beautiful, engaging, enriching tale of a young man stranded out at sea for 227 days, or for managing to do that whilst simultaneously catapulting the reader into a moment of theological reflection when the story concludes? Don't forget that even in the film, from the very outset the Writer character was promised a story that would make him believe in God.
The “truth”: Pi survived for 227 days at sea, married the girl of his dreams, had children, and lived to tell two stories.
Taking into account the first part of the narrative, in which we witness Pi struggling to reconcile the differences between faith and interpretations (he acknowledges that they all contain valuable elements), in reality, the aforementioned "truth" is of little concern to anyone. What is open to interpretation are the 227 days Pi spends out at sea. Faced with two mutually exclusive stories, we are left with a very simple proposition -
Which story do you prefer?
Whilst some of us might remain unconvinced, in the case of others, like the The Writer who openly admits that he prefers the story with the tiger, Pi successfully helps us overcome one of the largest hurdles to faith – believing in the unbelievable - "And so it goes with God."
Evidenced by his multi-religion background, Pi does not believe that any of the world’s religions are a one-stop shop for the truth of God – and his goal is not to convert anyone to a given mindset. Instead, his story helps viewers consider which version of the world we prefer.