'Life of Pi': Five close calls for this 'unfilmable' survival adventure

PI-ANG-LEE

Image Credit: Jake Netter

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For screenwriter David Magee (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Finding Neverland), it wasn’t Pi’s experiences on the boat that were the most challenging for him to write, it was the opening, where the audience sees his family, learns of their history running a zoo, and dive into Pi’s preoccupation with religions of the world and the question of whether God exists. “So much of that was about philosophy and religion and getting a lot of backstory and exposition in, and we knew we had to use some narrative voiceover to some extent to get through that. But we didn’t want it to sound like a documentary or a history class,” Magee says.

Whenever he struggled to adapt the beloved book, Magee credits Lee (who shares screenwriting credit) with pushing him to find the right solution. “I had Ang at my side from the beginning and he was the driving force behind this. When it’s just two of you sitting in a room together trying to come up with solutions, it’s daunting enough. But if it was just me and I was trying to write this myself, I probably would have given up,” Magee says. “We had a nice balance of ‘that’s working,’ ‘that’s working,’ and ‘keep going down that road David,’ or ‘stop doing that David.’ We went back and forth and it worked beautifully for that reason.”

And though the movie as-written already had a lot of challenges, Lee willingly took on another one — 3-D cameras.

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