12/10/2012, 00.00
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Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" film, tool in teaching philosophy and theology

by Xin Yage
The film has already broke the box office in India and China. Technical quality, 3D animation, breathtaking images are the ingredients, but also a philosophical and religious inspiration.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - In Taiwan, Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" has become a box office success. But it has also become a tool for metaphysical and religious dialogue.

"I chose two interesting introductory texts for the course of fundamental theology. One was Canadian Yann Martel's novel 'Life of Pi' (PI 少年 的 奇幻 漂流) upon which the film was based," says Father Joseph Vu Kim Chinh (武 金正 神父). "Many of the students who had read the novel went to see the film and were delighted to have witnessed a work of art."

In Taiwan the film, released in cinemas from November 26, has a particular flavor, first because it was directed by Taiwanese film director Ang Lee (李安) who won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2000 and the Oscar for Best Director in 2005, the first Asian director to win the award that made him even more famous in the film world. Lee also won two Golden Lions at Venice in just three years (2005 and 2007).

20th Century Fox bet on him after contacting three different directors, who later abandoned the project. Anne Chen (陈明林), professor of communications and new media at the Catholic Fujen University, comments: "Ang Lee is a true film artist. This encouraged 20th Century to invest heavily in post-production to bring the novel to the screen, something many thought impossible. Probably only a genius of his caliber could do it". Last year, in order to complete the film, 20th Century Fox invested in Taiwan, involving the animation giant Rhythm and Hues (R & H). R & H is already at the top of animation technology, but through this film it further developed its potential in an international project in 3D.

The company opened a center in Taipei and one in Kaohsiung where they operate the CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects) to render images in real time between Malaysia, India, Canada.

John Cai (蔡瑛龙 先生), a computer engineer involved in the production of the film, said: "Thanks to the CAVE, one part of the globe are working on one image, while another intervenes making changes, seen in real time by all artists at the same time: an amazing thing that Taiwan is also proud of, being at the forefront of information technology and the construction of computers and semiconductors. Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver, Mumbai and Los Angeles connected via the 'cloud' created here in Kaohsiung ".

"The director - he adds - had tried different ways, but this remarkable technological capability has enabled him to translate his idea into an image."

"It 's a global film - explains Fr. Joseph - that sees a young Indian protagonist in the Pacific with his friend Richard Parker, dealing with issues relating to his own survival." "The religious dimension, typical of a multi-religious context like Asia, is central to the novel and is well expressed in the film. This is why it has broken the box office in India and China. It's not just a commercial product: the values ​​embedded in the film are well received by viewers and the story is very well presented for children and young people. It is very linear in a sense, not to mention the impact that the image has". The 3D also makes the protagonist's journey of discovery even more intimate: you put on your glasses and are immersed in his world for the duration of the film.

"In the novel, as in the film you become immersed in the symbolism of the ocean and sky both vast, recalling the archetypes of life itself. Throughout the film there is a physical confrontation and there is a metaphysical comparison well introduced in the early dialogues, when Pi is still in India with his family. "

To the question "Why did you choose this novel as an introduction to the study of theology?" Father Joseph replied: "A colleague of mine taught philosophy in Manila had suggested it, and one night last summer I read it. I was immediately struck by the style and the possibilities it contained to open up new ideas in the field of dialogue in general and interreligious dialogue in particular, which is something that we currently sorely need in every part of the world. Then they told me that Ang Lee was making a movie. I am not a cinema expert, but I never imagined a blockbuster of this size. Actually I went to see it with a friend Buddhist monk, you should have seen the line of people waiting ... He and I never go to the movies, we are bookworms, we did not know exactly what to expect. Then having to put on those strange, incredible glasses... in the end we were deeply impressed by the experience and strength that came from the images. I would dare say that it was two hours of an inner spiritual journey. Above all I hope that the film will sow hope and the desire to live in audiences of all ages. "


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