Some musings from a flick-filled weekend…
None whatsoever substance or significance worth discussing. Not exactly funny, not exactly original, yet not exactly boring either. Good for filling your spare time.
Life of Pi:
Put simply, the whole plot revolves around an aspiring novelist who approached an Indian immigrant in search for a story worth writing about. His referrer told him: “This is the man who can make you believe in God.”
I’m not surprised that the plot in the movie has undergone vast changes from that in the original book of the same name. The Man Booker Prize-winning novel is one of the many books on my shelf that has a profound impact on me. Ever since I first read it (I was fourteen), there was one dialogue that stuck on me throughout most of my coming-of-age years.
In Chapter 23, sixteen-year-old Pi talked about how “the sense of community that a common faith brings to a people” created trouble for him instead of bringing peace. Trouble meant the heated argument among a priest, an imam, and a pandit. They probed Pi’s parents regarding their peculiar son:
“What is your son doing going to temple?” asked the priest.
“Your son is was seen in church crossing himself,” said the imam.
“Your son has gone Muslim,” said the pandit.
Now here’s the interesting part: Despite their differing backgrounds of religious faith, there is a seamless convergence (an agreement) to the collective thoughts they’ve been taught by their religions to believe, that there is only one God and that He is universal.
Despite the agreement, they would go on suspecting and attacking Pi’s unorthodox practices.
All Piscine had to say to silence their argument was this:
“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.“
I remember when I was fourteen, at that very moment while I was reading that particular phrase, something struck me – both at mind and at heart – and has never left me up to this day. You can call it a stroke of insight; Pi called it God’s presence.
“The universal theme of us touching God is spiritual and India is a spiritual place,” said the Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, who claimed that this movie was his most difficult project to film yet. He revealed the hurdles faced during the filming process at a press conference in Mumbai: ”The book makes a philosophical point about theology and zoology. It examines illusions. To me that is the hardest. How do you create illusion, especially with so much money?”
On top of my head: Interreligious disharmony in a society (I’m talking about Indonesia). I always wonder how stupid we human beings are sometimes to disregard our conscience and corrupt the very advantage we have against our enemies or competitors. In 1945, Indonesia’s founding father Soekarno asserted in Pancasila that interfaith dialogue is #1 sanction for the nation’s independence. Decades later, all we’ve been doing is creating disastrous illusions, lies, wars, just to hold up our personal disagreements with the differing religions from our own, even when we know deep down we have the same faith and the same God.
Perhaps that’s the purpose of life, isn’t it? All we want to do is to love God, in all his mysteries and all that we’ve been taught about his glory. Much as directing a film is difficult for Ang Lee, to love the universal [truths, ideas, values, peoples, cultures] is a difficult skill to practice, so …
Above all, don’t lose hope.
Let me quote this anonymous writer who, at present is sitting in a local cafe (in Chapter 21), digesting “the better story” Piscine Molitor Patel just told him about his survival journey on a lifeboat – the one that prevailed across the Pacific in 227 days and carried a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger along with Pi. Pi retold his story in a “no animals, just humans” context to Japanese reporters who didn’t believe in the original story.
Let’s see what the writer believes:
I pause. What of God’s silence? I think it over. I add:
An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose.
Take a moment to reflect… What are your thoughts?