Book Review “The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey”

Author: Jean-Christophe Castelli
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Yann Martel’s international bestseller “Life of Pi”, since it’s release back in 2001.  It is a very ambitious story to turn into a film.  This release is the film’s journey from the pages of the book to the big screen.  It is part scrapbook, part travel guide and part production diary.  When I did my initial flip-through of the book, I couldn’t help but stop many times throughout.  To me that usually means that I am going to love the book.  It was very accurate, since I couldn’t put this wonderful graphic illustrated collection of “The Making of Life of Pi” down until I read it page-to-page.

There are many intimate interviews for the cast/crew, as well 275 photographs and illustrations including storyboards, sketches and artwork, thanks to photographer Mary Ellen Mark and artist Alexis Rockman. This book should have been called “a visual journey” because that is what it really felt like to be.  Whether it was marked-up screenplays or personal notes, this really told the story of how  Oscar-winning director Ang Lee brought Yann Martel’s international bestseller to life.  If you are viewing this book using the enhanced eBook, you get to experience the special features and also get a look inside the fifty-page fully illustrated “survival guide” that shipwreck survivor Steven Callahan created for Pi refers to during his journey.

“The Making of Life of Pi” is the ultimate guide to the making of the film from pre-production through final cut. The film is such a large scale and you get to experience the how this, like I said, ambitious film was turned over to the big screen. We get to meet the unknown sixteen-year-old actor Suraj Sharma, who is taking the lead role of Pi.  We find out how he got the role and even did his own stunts. You also get to see that there was a massive wave tank that was built just for the for the film.  You even get to meet the film’s co-star, or should I say co-stars.  King, Themis, Minh, and Jonas are the four Bengal tigers used in the film.  Lastly we get to see how the heavy amounts of visual effects were used and blended to create this wonderful journey, all while shooting in 3D.

The book is authored by Jean-Christophe Castelli, who has a long working relationship with Ang Lee.  He started working with him way back for cultural research on “The Ice Storm” (1997) and then followed by the story development of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000).  There is a wonderful foreword from “Life of Pi” author Yann Martel.  This is a great sign, which means that the author endorses the film and believes in it. There is also an introduction from the film’s director Ang Lee.  I have been a big fan of his work in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” but not some much recently but this film looks to change that very soon. Thanks to this book, I will be first in line now to see “The Life of Pi” in theaters.

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