Life of Pi (2012) – the hidden meaning of the plot and the ending of the film.
Life of Pi: four in a boat, not counting God
Man is undoubtedly the king of nature, but only his subjects are not aware of this. Finding himself alone with Infinity, a person can behave like a wild animal, or he can become a true likeness of God. How does this happen and what drives us at the decisive moment? What is the general relationship between man, God and nature? These questions were posed by the writer Yann Martel when creating the novel Life of Pi. After watching the film based on his novel, millions of viewers began to ask this question. There is only one answer: the film must be viewed in two dimensions at once: visual and philosophical.
Pi as a symbol of the harmony of the universe
Why is the main character called so strange? Actually, his full name is even more unusual – Piscine Molitor , in honor of the Parisian pool. Because of the ridicule of those around him, Pisin takes a new name for himself – Pi, shortening it to the letter of the Greek alphabet. This letter is familiar to all students of mathematics; it underlies many formulas. Thanks to her, we can calculate the length of any circle – a smooth, curved, closed line, knowing the length of a straight line segment – the radius. This letter is a real symbol of harmony. The hero of the film, trying to reconcile the ideologies of three religions – Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – is also trying to build himself into the formula of the world.
Having left his homeland, in search of a new life, Pi, by the will of fate, finds himself in the middle of the ocean, one under the endless sky, and in the boat besides him there are four animals. A shipwreck, as the collapse of plans and hopes, brings everyone to the brink of destruction. A storm in the middle of the ocean, like any storm of life, puts everyone on the brink of survival. Man builds his relationship with animals, as God – with people. Animals behave as expected. They do not recognize the supremacy of Man, just as people deny God. They are trying to kill him – just like those people who refuse God. They kill each other, like people who are possessed by a lust for blood and profit. But Pi wins and harmony triumphs.
Man and tiger
Stars from heaven are reflected in the ocean abyss. Among this primordial darkness, in the sparkle of billions of luminaries, a man and a tiger drift in a lonely boat. They achieved mutual understanding with great difficulty. Man had to tame the tiger, as God has to teach man. They never became friends, but elements of order appeared in their relationship.
The full gamut of emotions sounds here: unwillingness to obey, fear, suppression of will, concern, recognition of the need for cooperation. Before us is no longer a pair of “man – tiger” or “God – man”, but one, single being. They can save their lives only in cooperation – both in the middle of the ocean and on the “carnivorous” island devouring its inhabitants.
The coveted shore gives them freedom from each other. The tiger, without looking back, goes into the jungle. So a person, having received salvation from God, rarely thanks him even with a glance.
People or beasts?
Returning from his wanderings on solid ground, leaving philosophical searches and finding himself in the real world, Pi is faced with the need to explain everything that happened to him from a materialistic, atheistic, literal point of view. Instead of the raging elements – the walls of the hospital, instead of the boat, this symbol of movement – a hospital bed. The hero is interviewed by officials representing the interests of the owner of the ship that has crashed. The story of the search for truth, self-knowledge and knowledge of God is too unrealistic for an official report.
Then Pi, as if descending from Heaven to earth, gives a completely earthly explanation of what happened. In the boat with him were really not animals from the traveling zoo, but people. It was not an evil hyena who killed the wounded zebra and the female orangutan who stood up for Pi, but the ship’s cook, cannibal and killer, killed the wounded sailor and Pi’s mother. And it was not the tiger who destroyed the hyena, but Pi himself, feeling the strength of the tiger and animal hatred in himself, killed the cook.
There was no one in the boat except Pi. There was only one, in two essences – human and animal. And if we consider that God created man in his own image and likeness, then the boy Pi was the image of the Divine principle in man, and the tiger was an animal, animal principle. This means that he was looking for peace with himself, with his two essences. And only by reconciling them, I was able to be saved.
The meaning of the ending of the film
At the end, the main question is: which of the two stories do we accept? How do we understand what happened to Pi? What is more in us – human or animal? Will we believe in a philosophical, “high”, or generally accepted, understandable to all “logical” explanation?
No one was surprised by the version with murder and cannibalism. No one was surprised by the fact that people at a critical moment behaved like animals. It would seem that this is what should be incredible for us, and not the possibility of joint swimming in the same boat with a tiger. Therefore, the author of the novel Martel and director Ang Lee urge to take Pi’s story “at face value”: they believe in people.
And for those who still hesitate, there is another explanation. Pi tried to reconcile the three religions, to love God, but crossed the moral line. To find salvation, he had to fight the killer tiger that lurked within him. This means that both versions are true, and the battle with the “inner tiger” can expect any person after another catastrophe in the middle of the stormy ocean of life.