Hollywood director Ang Lee says he broke every rule in his latest film, Life of Pi, bringing the best-selling novel into 3D life with a production featuring an unknown Indian actor, four tigers and the world’s biggest wave machine.
“There are a few classic advices in movies: never make a movie featuring animals, kids, water or 3D. We ignored all (of them),” says the Taiwanese-born American director.
The filmmaker had to pull out all the stops to get Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name on screen. The story, centred around a shipwrecked Indian boy called Pi who survives in a life raft with a Bengal tiger, posed obvious casting difficulties. Lee’s first solution came in the guise of Suraj Sharma, a hitherto unknown 17-year-old from Delhi who was picked out of 3,000 boys.
The first part of the film was then filmed in Pondicherry where 5,500 extras were hired to shoot scenes of Indian street life and religious ceremonies. Then, because the entire second half of the two-hour movie takes place at sea, Lee went to Taiwan to film in a specially designed wave-generating tank that contains 1.7 million gallons of water. “We created our own Hollywood,” says the director, who has provided a 3D experience such as flying fish shooting out of the screen, and surrealist trips into an Ocean populated by luminous jellyfish and whales.