This evening I watched "The Life of Pi" with my son Benjamin. His reaction at the end of the film was "So the story wasn't true". That's a natural reaction for someone to have to the film. In fact, that was my first impression when I saw the film in the cinema, although I changed my mind after sitting and thinking about it. If we bog ourselves down with questions about what's true and what's false we lose track of what's important. It's a story to make us believe in God.
Is it possible for a story to make someone believe in God? Let me take an example. There's a story in the Bible about Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt to Israel. Some people think the story is true, some don't. Those who believe the story is true believe in God, those who think it's a legend don't believe in God. So what comes first? Do people who believe in God automatically accept the story, or do people who believe the story believe in God as a result?
There's no proof whether Pi's story is true or not. It's all a matter of faith. The Japanese investigators believed him. The unnamed interviewer (who represents the author Yann Martel) has initial doubts, but then believes him. Do I believe the story? Sitting in my chair at home and treating the film as a work of fiction it's a purely intellectual exercise, but if I were sitting in Yann Martel's chair in the film I would have believed Pi's story. I would have gone home and thought about God.
"I wanted to use water because the film is talking about faith, and it contains fish, life and every emotion for Pi. And air is God, heaven and something spiritual and death. That's how I see it. I believe the thing we call faith or God is our emotional attachment to the unknown. I'm Chinese; I believe in the Taoist Buddha. We don't talk about a deity, which is very much like this book; we're not talking about religion but God in the abstract sense, something to overpower you". (Ang Lee, November 2012).
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