Posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
After a couple years of stalls, Ang Lee‘s big screen 3D adaptation of Yann Martel‘s novel Life of Pi is finally moving forward. The director recently cast newcomer Surej Sharma as the title character, and has now added three more names to the cast. Gerard Depardieu will play Chef, a pivotal character; Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Spider-Man) will play the adult Pi; and Adil Hussain will play Pi’s father. Bollywood star Tabu is in talks to take the role of Pi’s mother. [Variety]
After the break I’ve dropped a refresher synopsis of Life of Pi along with the details we know about the production.
After years of development with a variety of directors Ang Lee appeared set to make Life of Pi. But budget setbacks postponed the film and threatened to kill it altogether; Fox was reluctant to pay the $70m the script called for. Eventually that was pared down to something a bit north of $50m, and the decision to shoot the film natively in 3D seemed like a calculated gambit to help recoup the investment.
A large chunk of the novel takes place on the sea, and the idea of shooting 3D on the water seems daunting. (It’s part of the reason Piranha 3D was post-converted.) But Ang Lee says “the ocean is perfect for 3-D. I think it will change the way people experience the sea.” Don’t be surprised if we hear that the same small, lightweight RED Epic cameras being used for Spider-Man and The Hobbit are put to work on Life of Pi — the diminutive cameras would make shooting 3D on the water a lot easier.
Here’s the book recap again:
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The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting “religions the way a dog attracts fleas.” Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (”His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth”). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don’t burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat’s sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: “It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I’ve made none the champion.”