Life of Pi, The Ang Lee film based on the novel, is an allegory of tolerance between East and West. The Hindu protagonist embraces Christianity and Islam as interchangeable paths to loving God. The film, which was number five at the U.S. box office Thanksgiving weekend, will open the Dubai Film Festival on December 9. With its global appeal, it is also serving as a real life cultural ambassador to the Arab world.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The movie marks the second year in succession a big Hollywood movie has heralded the beginning of the Gulf region’s oldest film festival.” Last year was Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, which integrated the city by featuring an action scene involving Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (2,722 ft), the world’s tallest building.
The film is being acclaimed as visually stunning, using images as truth against a fantastic story and an unreliable narrator. With Israel in turmoil, and the U.S. still engaged in ongoing conflict against al-Qaeda, the film is an important reminder that there are many versions of the truth but they are not mutually incompatible.
Lee also consciously strove to feature unknown actors and avoid the distraction of celebrities. Tobey Maguire was actually cut from the film in its final version because “he was too famous for his small part.” The director wanted audiences to see the characters free of bias from previous roles, and give the story a clean slate. Hopefully, Hollywood’s toehold in the Middle East through art can help prompt life in the same direction.
See the Life of Pi trailer here: