Part scrapbook, part travelogue, part production archive, this graphic, diversely illustrated volume is a collection of initial inspirations, intimate interviews, storyboards, sketches, souvenirs, snapshots, fine art, marked-up screenplays, notes, and film stills, that when viewed together, tell the story of how renowned, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee brought Yann Martel’s international bestseller–which has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide–to life.
Life of Pi, the 2001 Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel, tells the story of Pi Patel, a 16-year-old Indian boy who is shipwrecked on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with only a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for company. A simple narrative, but one dense with metaphor, Martel’s book explores the big questions of life, death, family, humanity, nature, and religion. Life of Pi is a modern classic: a coming-of-age story, a story of adventure, and a story of stories–it’s about the tales we tell in order to give meaning to our lives. These elements won the novel its global acclaim and wide, passionate readership.
Our book is a juicy behind-the-scenes read, filled with an amazing array of facts and visuals that take readers from preproduction through final cut. Readers will meet Suraj Sharma, the 16-year-old unknown Indian high school boy who won the part of Pi without knowing how to swim–and not only learned to do that in short order, but also perform all of his own stunts. They’ll learn how shipwreck survivor and author Steven Callahan (Adrift: 76 Days at Sea) helped create the “authentic” tools Pi fashions from the boat for his survival–complete with sketches–and be able to see excerpts from the 50-page, fully illustrated “survival guide” Callahan and the art department created for Pi to consult on his raft (which the audience never gets to see). They’ll be able to check out the mapping of the film’s trajectory in the script supervisor’s office, which is literally covered from floor to ceiling with a stationery store’s worth of Post-its to diagram in a linear fashion every aspect of the film, from Pi’s weight loss throughout his journey to the changing condition of his lifeboat and raft. And they’ll get to meet the Bengal tiger (s) in the film and see how special effects is able to present a seamless image of the animal, whether it is flesh and blood or ones and zeros.
This volume is rich with both stand-alone sidebars and a wide variety of illustrative material. Even as it follows the broader arc of pre-production / production / post-production, like a scrapbook or travelogue, there are many points of entry. Readers can flip open to any page and find something fascinating to hold their interest. The vibrant montage of materials give the reader a glimpse of the creative and filmmaking process, of the way in which varied elements coalesced into the director’s vision. Outside photography (including a portfolio by Mary Ellen Mark and vintage archival images), fine art (a portfolio of commissioned sketches by artist Alexis Rockman and 18th-century Indian paintings), cultural artifacts (billboards and signage) and texts supplement the more usual assortment of visuals generated by and for the production (storyboards, sketches, stills, etc.), rounding out this experiential book for lovers of the novel and film viewers alike.
Lee is sure to have this same level of success with his cinematic interpretation when it hits cinemas in the UK on December 21, 2012. The cast includes Tobey McGuire and Gerard Depardieu.
- Author Bio
- JEAN-CHRISTOPHE CASTELLI worked as a magazine editor and freelance writer, publishing articles in Vanity Fair, Esquire, and Filmmaker before moving into film. For seven years, he was the story editor at the independent production company Good Machine. There he developed many film projects and began a long working relationship with Ang Lee, first with the cultural research on The Ice Storm (1997), followed by the story development of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Leaving the film world for a few years to pursue his own writing projects, Castelli has continued to do development and research for Lee, most recently as associate producer on Life of Pi (2012). He lives in New York City with his wife and twin sons.
YANN MARTEL is the author of the internationally acclaimed and best-selling novel Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Man Booker Prize. He is also the author of the novel Self, the short story collection The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios, and the book of letters to the prime minister of Canada,What Is Stephen Harper Reading? Martel’s most recent novel is Beatrice and Virgil. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.
ANG LEE was born in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan. The son of a high school principal with very traditional ideas about education, Lee chose a less conventionally academic path, which led him to the United States to study theater at the University of Illinois. In 1984, he received an M.F.A. in film from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In 1990, Lee’s scripts for Pushing Hands and The Wedding Banquet won first and second place in a Taiwanese government screenwriting competition and, with the independent production company Good Machine on board as producers, they became his first two feature films. Lee went on to direct Eat Drink Man Woman; Sense and Sensibility; The Ice Storm; Ride with the Devil; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, 2000); Hulk; Brokeback Mountain (Academy Award for Best Director, 2005), Lust, Caution; Taking Woodstock; and Life of Pi. The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in New York.