Monday, April 29, 2013

LIfe of Pi -- a Good Movie , a Great book !

  Several weeks ago  friends, Patty and Phyllis  recommended I rent the DVD  movie Life of Pi, both said it was very good and  worth watching. Phyllis said she also read the award winning  book by Yann Martel  and liked it very much.  So, heeding their advice,  I rented Life of Pi .  My husband and I watched the movie last night, and like my friends,  thought it very good.

   Gary and I were immediately  carried along with the narrative of the story - a cargo ship sinking, a young boy who looses his family and is lost at sea with the likes of a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger ! Yikes ! It  seemed almost unbelievable, yet,  I believed this was as it happened - especially when Pi said something about 'Pi's Ark'.  I was totally captivated through it all - it never dawned on me that the author was presenting an allegory, in the Biblical sense. Not until the end of Pi's second account of  his story. It was only then I had my 'ah ha' moment. The animals weren't animals at all, but real life human beings that had to deal with their circumstance in life - challenging, and sorrowful  as it was.

   In 1974 I was travelling in Europe , and had been away from home for some time, I'd often get letters from Phyllis  telling me she thought I was probably spending too much time in churches, an not experiencing real life, and  encouraged me to get out and live, live, live !

    Sadly,  my maternal grandmother died two weeks after I arrived in London. To hear my mother telling me this horrific news over the transcontinental phone  was devastating, and needless to say put a damper on my trip. To know my mother's sorrow,  and not being there to give her comfort was heart wrenching.    I was in complete shock as grandma had not been ill, she was only 57 years old. Without luck I tried to get a flight home in time for Grandma's funeral.  Very kindly,  family and friends said Grandma wouldn't want me to come home, but  continue my stay in Europe as it was something I had dreamed of for so long. I was less certain, and just felt sad.

  When I finally wrote  Phyllis,   it was a make believe letter that had the sound of truth, so much so, that she called my mother telling her she was sure I was in some harm. I told  about  my harrowing experience of being  kidnapped by bandits from Albania , dumped into a large wicker basket and thrown into the back of a Citroen bus. I  wrote I was then driven many  miles,  making several turns - first a  left, then right, then left again. I could hear voices talking , but couldn't understand what they were saying as  their language was foreign to me.  My letter went on and on telling Phyl about two big black things standing by my side. When Phyllis read that line to my mother, mom knew then  all was okay, as it was a line I shamefully  clipped  from James Whitcomb Reilly's poem Little Orphant Annie.

  By no means am I attempting to  compare  or associate my letter   to Martel's wonderful , well written, well received  Life of Pi. Not in the slightest. Only  to make the point writers do take real life situation that are hurtful and sad, hard to understand or explain,  and create imagined characters and situations  to help them more easily share their anxiety, worries, fears  - as well as their faith and hope that all will be well.

  I wasn't really kidnapped , but for those few days after learning of my grandmother's death, and not being able to get home, it seemed I was kidnapped by distance and time, and so my story/letter developed the way it did. 

   Yesterday afternoon I stopped by the library and checked out Life of Pi.  I can see why more than seven million copies have been sold - Yann Martel knows how to write a story !


Jennifer Rova said...

Good post and recommendation. I read the book when it first came out but appreciate it more now after all this publicity and success. One of the few times when book and movie are well done.

russeldewey said...

This book is renowned for its beautiful literature and the amount of depth and truth an author can place in his writing is ironic.

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