Immersed in Blu-ray: Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s multiple Oscar-winning Life of Pi goes Blu (Fox Home Ent.) and looks spectacular. Even viewed flat, I’m still entranced by the spirituality of the storytelling and the seduction of the imagery. And the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio offers a thrilling soundscape. It truly is the 2001 of our time.

The compositions are dramatically expressive as well as immersive and we become more active participants with both subjective and objective points of view to choose from, sometimes even simultaneously.

“I think basically it’s about why we exist,” Lee told me. “Story has meaning but where’s God in the abstract sense? What is your relationship with God with your inner self and that tiger?”

Of course, Rhythm & Hues’ extraordinary VFX was Oscar worthy in every respect, especially the animation of the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. This was the perfect case of VFX being part of the aesthetic. (Unfortunately, the bankrupt studio is now struggling for its survival while becoming a lightening rod for all the ills of the industry.)

But, according to Lee, the water was the most daunting. “I didn’t have a big movie star and water has to be really effective, it has to be a character by itself, very expressive and it reflects Pi’s moods on his lonely journey and you have to externalize his internal feelings. We really went way out, creating a new wave tank in Taiwan with a team of experts that’s elongated, and we showed different patterns and wave lengths and sizes of waves, dissolving from one shot to another so we could keep the shape without having the water bounce back from the wall. It was hair-raising for a long while because this had never been done before.”

For Oscar-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda, “It’s a movie about derailing you and making your own choices of what’s real, and there are a lot of interesting, little weird things,” Miranda suggests.” My favorite scene is probably the candlelit [temple float festival] where the art department got more than 120,000 candles and we worked all night to scatter them around.”

Meanwhile, Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna effortlessly mixes Western and non-Western themes and instruments in an unfettered way: “I played off of Pi being an internationalist in the music [being everywhere and nowhere]. My decades’ of experience working with non-Western instruments as well as Western instruments really came to the forefront.”

Bonus features on this must-own Blu-ray include such revealing docs as “A Filmmaker’s Epic Journey,” “A Remarkable Vision,” and “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright.”

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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