The movie “Life of Pi” is based on a novel of the same name written by Yann Martell. Although the book and film revolve primarily around characters from India, Martell himself is Canadian. During his childhood and adolescence, Martell lived in Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, France, and Canada. He writes in English, but French is his first language. Other Martell books include “We Ate the Children Last” and “Beatrice and Virgil.”
The story in both the novel and the film centers on the life of Piscine Molitor, an Indian boy who was named after a swimming pool in Paris. Because her name attracts ridicule from children at school, Piscine takes the nickname Pi. “The Life of Pi” is told in a framed story format, which means that an older Pi is telling the story to a journalist. The story is mainly about how young Pi survived a shipwreck and spent time in a lifeboat with wild animals, including an adult Bengal tiger.
In addition to attracting a lot of attention from moviegoers of all ages, “Life of Pi” also has a few interesting trivia associated with it. The film is directed by Ang Lee, but many other popular directors were added to the film at some point in development, including M. Night Shyamalan.
“Life of Pi” also has several fun connections to the Spider-Man movie franchise, including links to the trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, as well as the reboot movie “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The first bond involves Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker in the most recent movie. Maguire was originally cast as the reporter who interviews the older Pi, but Garfield was also considered for the role. Although Maguire filmed some scenes, Ang Lee made the decision to replace him before editing. Lee reportedly felt that Maguire was too big an actor for the role.
Another link to Spider-Man can be found in actor Irrfan Khan. Khan, who plays the adult version of Pi, played the role of Dr. Rajit Ratha in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The tiger’s name in “Life of Pi” is Richard Parker, who is also the name of Peter Parker’s father in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
However, Martel did not get the Richard Parker name from the Spider-Man stories. It was named after an 1884 English law case. The case, known as R. v. Dudley and Stephens, focused on a discussion about whether necessity could be used as a defense in a murder trial. Specifically, the argument was about cannibalism in a castaway situation. Four men, including a seventeen-year-old cabin boy named Richard Parker, were shipwrecked. After days of starvation, the other three men killed the possibly dying Parker and ate him. Martel’s choice of this name for a shipwrecked tiger that could, at any moment, eat Pi is full of black comedy.
The name of the ship in the 1884 court case was Mignonette. In a scene from “Life of Pi” in which the older Pi is being interviewed, a ship named Mignonette passes in the background.
An interesting fact about the creation of the film has to do with the tiger. Suraj Sharma, the actor who plays Pi, has reportedly never been in contact with an actual tiger. In fact, all the scenes depicting Sharma and the tiger inside the lifeboat were computerized. Although the CGI is very well done, there is at least one moment in the film where it is evident to viewers. The tiger jumps from an island to the boat, but there is no movement on the surface of the boat. When Pi makes the same movement a moment later, the surface of the ship flexes under his weight.
However, Sharma was hardly seen in the lifeboat. He didn’t even intend to audition for the movie. He was with his brother, who was answering a casting call, when the casting team saw him. With more than 3,000 other young people applying for the role, the team chose Sharma as their leader. “Life of Pi” was Sharma’s first film and, as of January 2013, he has not appeared as an actor in any other films.
“Life of Pi” is a fun and thoughtful film that examines topics such as survival and religion in an unconventional and unique way. It is fitting that the movie is also associated with so many funny and bizarre trivia.