The Life of Pi (through the eyes of a child)


May 11, 2013 by talkaboutyork

Last night we sat as a family and watched the Life of Pi. I had read the book years before and was rather desperate to see the film when it was on the big screen. But my husband wasn’t interested and there was always something else the kids would rather watch.

But last night the boys decided they wanted to watch it now that it’s out on video. My husband grudgingly joined in. I’m not sure what he was expecting. Safe to say he is now converted.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story (written by Yann Martel), it’s about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck and his subequent journey across the sea. With a tiger. It is deep and moving and powerful and just the most lovely story ever.

The film was even better than the book (and the book was pretty amazing). It has raced up into my top five films of all time. The cinematography was beyond words. It is one of those films that really makes you stop and think. And then think a bit more. And just when you think you’ve finished thinking about it, something comes back to you and you think just a little deeper.

But watching it with children was interesting. They are very literal creatures. They loved seeing his adventures at sea. And the sharks, the fierce tiger, the cute meerkats, the big storms. It took a lot of explaining about what was going on, particularly at the end (which I won’t reveal in case you haven’t seen it and don’t know the story). But it prompted deep conversations last night.

And again over breakfast this morning.

Despite us trying to explain the symbolism of the tiger and the whole issue of God vs Science, the children were still finding it hard to grasp. (They got up early to watch it again to try and understand it a bit more).

While eating our porridge, I asked the boys what they thought the central message of the film was.

‘That you don’t want to go to a carnivorous island,’ said son one, purposefully trying to make us laugh, but I think, in general, he got what the story was about.

‘And what about you son2, what do you think the main message of the film was?’ I asked.

He sat quietly, pondering this for some time. At last he said very solemnly:

‘Meerkats are bad.’

And that folks is that.  The Life of Pi summed up in a one liner. He may have missed the point I fear. I feel plenty more conversations on this subject coming up.


4 thoughts on “The Life of Pi (through the eyes of a child)

  1. I loved the film (and book, which I read when it first came out) and was delighted when Ang Lee won best director at the Oscars. I didn’t take the boys to see it, as I thought it might scare them, but sounds as if it was a success – love the meerkat comment. Did they understand the disturbing alternative ending? That would be my worry….

    • We had to explain the alternative ending and that made them even more intrigued. They watched it again and again to see if they could understand it. They didn’t seem upset by it weirdly. I have since asked my son why he thought the meerkats were bad (as they really aren’t) and it turns out that what he actually meant was that hyenas are bad…..

  2. michelloui says:

    I am intrigued! I started the book, but struggled–most unlike me especially with a book so highly recommended. I wasn’t therefore interested in the movie. But your post–even though it was about children’s interpretations of the movie, has me really interested and I’ve made a note to watch it with my 15.5 yo who is finally really understanding symbolism and depth.

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