Monday, 14 January 2013

Who is Richard Parker?

Richard Parker is a Bengal tiger. He is a character in the story “Life of Pi”. He is a beautiful and dangerous tiger who is shipwrecked with Pi and they are adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days.
Is Richard a bundle of fur, nerves and instinct? Or is he a sentient being that makes a deal with another to survive?  
The story explores belief and faith. It avoids agnosticism which the writer describes as “dry yeastless factuality”.
As a boy in his home town of Pondicherry - French speaking India - Pi manages to follow at least three religions Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. When he asks to be baptised as a Christian he also asks his father for a Muslim prayer rug. His brother is embarrassed. His mother suggests he spend his time instead reading Robinson Crusoe.

Throughout the tale many questions are posed.

Some are answered – some not.
Do animals look for safety in confinement?
Does Richard Parker have a French accent or Canadian?
How did Richard Parker and Pi get their names?
Did the tiger and Pi finally survive together?
Does Pi find God in the fear and freedom of the ocean?

Pi’s uncle Mamaji quotes from the Holy Qur’an “In all this there are messages indeed for those that use their reason.”
Believe in the story you choose.

The making of the film
Ang Lee’s glorious film of the Life of Pi is based on the book by Yann Martell.
While enjoying the film I was concerned in case any animals had been distressed. I found out that only a small group of animals were kept to help in the study of their movements and they were not exposed to the fears or stresses of the story.
The drama is created thanks to the meticulous work of the huge army of technicians employed to recreate the actions and movements of wild animals.  
For a fascinating account of the making of the film see Ian Failes’ article The Life of Pi – a tiger’s tale  in FX Guide