What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?
Not much to report this week. I’m still waiting on a couple of releases that I’ve mentioned here that contain content of mine. One of them is actually due to be released today or tomorrow, I believe, so…
What does the future hold?
Next Friday, I’ll put up a link to Somewhere in the Shadows, where I was asked to write the foreword. And because it is simply the foreword (both to the anthology and on my thoughts on the state of horror in general), and not a specific story in the anthology, I’ll be posting it here to pique your interest.
If you’ve perused my blog, you would know that the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel made it into my Top 10 Books that Have Inspired Me.
From that post:
[Life of Pi is] Another one my wife introduced me to, and this story found me at just the right time and appealed to me on multiple levels. As a child, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, and even after letting go of that idea, I’ve still always loved and been fascinated by animal science, so I loved the zoo and animal behavior discussions. And I could relate to the main character’s quest for a god, in his case through an interesting choice of the combination of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. I liked this idea so much that when I taught the book at a school for troubled teens, I combined it with a crash course of multiple discussions of various world religions. But beyond all of that is a captivating story about an Indian boy, the son of a zookeeper, stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger. The ending is a beautiful and poetic slug in the stomach. Besides the novels I’ve taught in my English classes, this is the only book I’ve read more than twice (I’ll have to think about that one, but I’m pretty sure it’s the case).
So with all of that in mind, I was obviously trepidatious when it came to the movie version, especially when they were advertising it as “a visual spectacle” and “the next ‘Avatar.’” I knew that there was obvious fodder in this novel for great visual moments, but it was so much more than that, and I was concerned that they were going to disregard the story in a quest for the spectacle.
However, the movie did not disappoint. Not me at least. I can imagine that if you went to see it after only watching the trailers and not reading the book, you might’ve been disappointed that you didn’t see “the next ‘Avatar.’” This is another example of poor marketing, in my opinion. I think this is what also caused poor reception of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Lady in the Water,’ which was not the horror movie the trailers made it out to be.
But anyway, as I was saying, no disappointment here. The movie stayed as close to the book as the 2 hours and 18 minutes would allow. The actors fit my envisioning of them from reading the book (and funny enough, the actor playing “the author” looks pretty close to a young Yann Martel), and while I haven’t seen Irrfan Khan (the adult Pi Patel) in anything else, he did an amazing job with the subtleties of his part.
I would’ve liked to have seen more of the discourse from the novel about the science behind why zoos work. For me, this lent to the suspension of my disbelief when it came to a boy training a Bengal tiger, but I understand the time constraints (and I’ve also heard many people complain that this part of the book bored them. It must just be the boyhood veterinarian in me that was fascinated by this section).
I also was a little sad that they didn’t show one of my favorite scenes in the book, when all three of Pi’s religious instructors meet by accident and realize that he has been practicing the different religions simultaneously. After much furor and insistence that Pi can’t do what he’s been doing, he responds, “I’m just trying to love God.”
There weren’t many embellishments. I don’t remember the mention of Pi’s “girlfriend” before leaving India in the book, however, they make it work. I also don’t remember the whale, but this obviously was part of the “visual spectacle.”
[A word before I continue. The visual aspects of the movie were amazing. I didn’t go to the 3-D version because those glasses make me crazy, but I don’t think you need to in order to appreciate what Lee has done with this movie. It was at moments visually beautiful, breathtaking and terrifying. And definitely one to be seen on the big screen.]
There is also an additional scene that I don’t remember from the book that shows a little of the tension between Pi’s family and the cook (played by Gerard Depardieu) on the freight boat that carried the animals from India. Without giving away much, I will say that this scene, while seemingly minor, is important.
Overall, I would say this is as close to a book as I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time. And I was so glad I got the opportunity to see it.
There is one thing I’m still not sure about, but it comes with a…
The ending. At first I was wondering if they were going to do the ending. They had to, right? That was my aforementioned “beautiful and poetic slug in the stomach.” If you’ve read the book, it makes you watch the details with the animals a little more closely. I can’t remember if the order was exactly this way in the book, but the connection between Pi and Richard Parker was blatantly obvious when Pi is enraged and getting ready to take on the hyena, but suddenly Richard Parker lunges from under the tarp and attacks the hyena instead.
Anyway, the ending. This is just my personal opinion, but when Pi tells “the other story” in the book, I always visualized it, as disturbing as it was. So when it came to the ending of the movie, I wanted to see it on the screen, even if it was just silent images in the background with Pi’s face overlaid telling the story (like they had done in other parts of the movie) instead of him just lying in the hospital bed telling the investigators. I guess I can understand why they made that choice, but for me, the lack of seeing it (and honestly, missing a few things he said as a result of his accent) took away some of the power.
But again, I guess I understand. It’s not “the better story.” So they kept it flat.
And honestly, compared with everything else, it wasn’t enough to tarnish my opinion of the movie.
What do I want from you?
Read the book? Seen the movie? What did you think?
Any other movies based on books that you felt were very true to the book?
Don’t forget to check back next week for my foreword/commentary on the state of horror.
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