Sunday, January 13, 2013

On Shipwrecks or Life of Pi

This day last year the Costa Concordia was sailing happily near the Italian shore. Not too near, until its Captain decided he had the right to be careless. A bit after nine thirty in the afternoon the emergency signal rung. The evacuation plan worked out well for more than three thousand passengers and crew. It didn't for thirty-two of them, who lost their lives in their effort to escape. Two of the bodies were never found.

Last year on this day and for some days after, Gianpaolo,  my then roommate, was utterly embarrassed from the disaster; he was blaming the Captain, not only for being irresponsible, but also for giving a bad name to Italians, as he said. The Captain in question is restricted in his residence and did not yet face trial for manslaughter, for which he is accused. As for the ship, it still lies on its side, near the island of Giglio, waiting to be towed away - a costly operation.

Ten days ago I was myself still on board a Concordia-class Costa cruise ship. I wouldn't have been there, if it wasn't for the incident. Too much curiosity, I guess. During my contract I met numerous passengers that had been cruising on Concordia some weeks before the shipwreck. Fearless, they went back to cruise vacations in the first opportunity. Two of my ex-collegues have actually lived the Concordia shipwreck, but it didn't hold them back from continuing their career with Costa and I admire them for that.

Back on land, the first film I went for at the cinema was Life of Pi (2012). Until now, I could not find the right way to address it; my feelings for the film were overlapping with my feelings about life on board, those I left behind and my vague fear of rough sea and reckless commanders. Timing is all in life, and timing had its role here; from now onwards Life of Pi will be for me an allegory for all the brave and adventurous Indians (and they are only too many), as well as Philippinos, Peruvians, Brazilians, Chinese, Romanians, Hungarians -the list does not end here- that left their homeland and their beloved ones in quest for a new life, a new job, an exciting adventure. What they found is a different story altogether.

Let's go back to Pi, the visionary Ang Lee and the lucky Yann Martel. Personally, I know very few directors that would take upon a project like this and pull it off, in unanimous critical acclaim that is. Because, not only Life of Pi is a majestic film from a visual point of view, but it is also one with a breath-taking performance from newcomer Suraj Sharma. How Lee could so charismatically orchestrate a CGI technology Bengal tiger under the name of Richard Parker, a seventeen year old boy without previous experience that had to perform for most of the film in front of the blue screen and the capricious Atlantic Ocean and yet bind  visual poetry with suspense will remain a mystery to me. He gave movie-goers a unique experience, and we have to thank him for that, as well as the guys from Rhythm & Hues for "making art" while developing the film's exquisite 3D graphics. I have a tiny negative comment to make, though: I haven't seen such an annoying face as the one that Rafe Spall had while portraying the bewildered author for a while now. For my satisfaction, Irrfan Khan as the adult Pi had the stoic attitude of a truly wise man, one who has potentially seen God with his own eyes.

Life of Pi made me re-think nature, change, faith. It also made me re-think success: Yann Martel published a couple of books before and after Life of Pi; none of them had a real impact, except for the latter. Ironically enough, Martel's only book to win accolades and together with them the Booker Prize on 2002 is inspired by Max e os Felinos by Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar and it comes with accusations of plagiarism to which the aforementioned chose to give an end opting not to sue the writer.

Well, Life of Pi did all that to me and to others, which make the prizes and nominations well deserved, but it didn't succeed in making me believe in God. Some fellow Indian crew members tried to convince me that he exists earlier on; I seriously doubt it, especially after what I've seen on board. But, forget I ever said that; being politically incorrect is the last thing I want, dear reader.


ludo said...

Hey!! Sei indietro a Lussemburgo?? Possiamo avere una pizza insieme se vuoi!
And btw, I also liked very much Life of Pi ;-)

estelle said...

Certo, ci parliamo. Life of Pi, che filme meraviglioso!