Whenever I think of this particular film, I can pretty much remember every scene, image and moment from it. It’s just one of those movies that actually have a strange power to stay inside you, or let’s say… behind your eyes when it finishes, its visual spectacle is unparalled to anything that we’ve had this year in terms of nominated movies and above all: theater experiences in 3D. I had the luck to see this one the way that Ang Lee wanted me to, and it was just a marvelous experience from beginning to end, starting in the magical zoo in the beautiful India all the way through the mirror-like ocean that make up the majority of the film, going through dangerous islands and finally ending in that white hospital room where we are confronted with a question that will truly question your beliefs and how you view life, to see really if there’s honesty and reality in the world around us. It’s a complex film that maybe needs to be seen twice for it to be truly win you over with its power of philosophy over the one of the visuals, one that already makes it memorable and a winner in my book. With a memorable score that goes perfectly with every moment in the screen and a cinematography that would actually be more impressive if the special effects work wasn’t one of the greatest I’ve seen in my entire life, it’s just impressive the enormous achievement found here: a full tiger and other kind of animals that seem real to my eyes in every moment, that is something that not every movie nor endeavour can manage, and even if it doesn’t actually have my favorite cinematography or score of the year, it is the sure winner of those categories when the Oscar night comes around.
The movie starts and tell us the story about a young boy that confronts himself with different religions when he is very young, he studies and understands them deeply, mixing them up in ways unimaginable, so that he can finally find a meaning to all that sorrounds him, and that makes him a very intelligent and hope-finding boy, and even when he has to be separated from his girlfriend when his family decides to move out to Canada with all the animals of the zoo with them. That’s when the real adventure starts, when the ship starts to sink due to an enormous storm that immediatly kills all the people aboard except for our protagonist… and some animals in the safe ship that he’s floating into the deep ocean. The main element of this film is the presence of Richard Parker in the boat, he is a tiger from the zoo that has managed to survive the shipwreck and tries to eat our protagonist and all the other animals that are on the ship, among them a zebra, a hyena and an orangutan, that are killed in different manners and ways, just to end up with our main indian kid and the metaphorical tiger in the middle of a mirror-like ocean for days and days with no end. It is obvious that the film will go the usual route of how to adapt, how to make a routine out of the convivence between the man and the beast, but for some reason the film (in an intelligent manner) always throws something new to the equation, either be by nature or random happenstances, the routes and manners that the protagonist invents to try to find his way around the circumstance in which he is invested in, they are destroyed and he has to come up with new and original ways, so the film never becomes boring nor repetitive, and that is an impressive thing when you see that the film is over two and a half hours long.
The movie claims that its story will make you believe in God, and here’s where I think the movie lost me a bit. There are a lot of moments filled with emotion, the tribulations and approaches between the kid and the tiger are always interesting, but when the ending comes and the feelings are at the top of the scale… the whole thing falls down in terms of what the message was supposed to be: the finding of God, I think that the fact that the tiger turns back and does not adress the boy in any way, even if they’ve gone through a lot of things, I think that it’s a stronger argument regarding the nature of… ahem… nature itself, and not of the presence or existence of God. I think that’s the main reason for me to not call it a masterpiece, I do think that the film is great, it’s filled with messages about life, the reasons for living, the way people need to change when faced agains the wild, about death and coping with the reality even if you are filled with hope from your beliefs, but I think we truly need to discuss this in the comments, and I wish all of you to chime in with your thoughts about what is supposed to be the final message, specially regarding about the frame of the movie, the interview about the story. Please, comment away! Nominated to 11 Oscars, this movie will surely win the most of the night with prizes for cinematography, visual effects, score and director for Ang Lee, making a superb work.