And so my cinema inspired ramblings continue. January has indeed been a feast for my eyes. But this film touched me somewhere beyond the aesthetic, and visual. I guess it might fall into the realm of the transpersonal, a word that makes occasional appearances in my vocabulary but splashes around without much style. For me the transpersonal domain might well be equated with the spiritual life. And spirituality feels, to me, to be the journey of a lifetime.
I am comforted by the idea that we are, each of us, spiritual beings having a human experience. And, somehow, for me, this movie spoke to this very directly. I so appreciated the implicit suggestion that hovered in the subtext, that belief in whatever or whoever is capable of preventing the extinction of hope. Hope having been highlighted as the ultimate power, and life force.
I guess approaching the film's plot from a different perspective, it tells the story of a young man's experience of an horrific trauma that resulted in what might be described as a psychotic experience. We see his near death experience, and can maybe postulate that some of what follows is hallucination, the understandable consequence of prolonged hunger and the complete absence of human contact. The scenes might represent the vivid imaginings of the traumatised mind playing tricks to avoid the alternative of shut down, demonstrating the tremendous resilience of the human spirit, psyche and physiology.
I wonder too about the symbolism of Richard Parker, the fantastically life-like Bengal tiger. What is it that we see the protagonist, Piscine Molitor 'Pi' Patel work hard to tame? An aspect of himself, perhaps? It is all of course well beyond the imagination of the naive Canadian with whom he later crosses paths who lacks any real frame of reference for the rich anecdotes of the older, wiser and now even more deeply self-reflective Pi.
Seemingly blunt, the line, "if it happened, why does it have to mean anything?" seems spot on, in the circumstances. Of course, we are left to make up our own minds about what did really happen after the boat on which Pi, accompanied by his family and floating menagerie, got caught in a treacherous storm in the middle of the Pacific. The film is a testament to the crucial importance and critical value of narratives to human survival.
We all have the power to write the endings to our own stories. We can choose to make sense of them along the way, or get into the deceptively simple business of having experiences that feel meaningful to us.