FILM 1359: LIFE OF PI
TRIVIA: Suraj Sharma never intended to audition for the film. He went to a casting call to support his brother, and beat out more than 3,000 hopefuls for the lead role.
The shot from overhead of Pi sleeping on the tarp, with Richard curled up in the boat and the fish swimming underneath them, replicates the best known cover of the book that the film is based on.
Suraj Sharma, was never in the boat with a live tiger. Most of the tiger shots were very high-tech CGI. Only a few scenes, like the tiger swimming in the water, included a real tiger.
Ang Lee hired Steven Callahan as a "nautical consultant." In 1982, Callahan survived 76 days adrift on a rubber lifeboat in the Atlantic after his sailboat sank.
The name Richard Parker has previously been associated with shipwrecks. 1) In the Edgar Allan Poe novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket", published in 1838, Richard Parker is a member of a group of shipwrecked sailors who resort to cannibalism. 2) In 1884, a ship called Mignorette sank in the ocean. Four people survived, including a cabin boy named Richard Parker, who was subsequently killed and eaten by the other three survivors.
First movie in 7 years to receive the Oscar for Best Director without winning the Oscar for Best Motion Picture. The previous movie was Brokeback Mountain (2005), also directed by Ang Lee.
Pi is on the lifeboat for 227 days. A good approximation for the number pi is 22/7.
The Vfx studio "Rhythm & Hues" won an Academy Award for this film. This was two weeks after they declared bankruptcy. Main reason was, that there where much substance changes, without paying the extra work (what seems to be normal in this business). Ang Lee did not even mention the Vfx-team at the Oscars. Most of the Work in this film was made by this team. There is also a short documentation about this, named Life After Pi (2014).
The Japanese cargo ship's name, Tsimtsum, is a Hebrew word used by 16th-century Kabbalist Isaac Luria to denote God's "contraction" of Himself from the world at Creation. In the novel, the adult Pi mentions doing a college thesis on Luria's theories about creation. In the movie, he mentions teaching a course on Kabbalah.
Tobey Maguire was originally cast as the Writer. Though he filmed his scenes, he was later replaced by Rafe Spall. Ang Lee thought Maguire was too famous for such a small role, and would have been distracting.
Author Yann Martel said he was inspired by a book review of Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar's 1981 novella Max and the Cats, about a Jewish-German refugee who crossed the Atlantic Ocean while sharing his boat with a jaguar.
At one point Jean-Pierre Jeunet was attached to write the film.
Director Cameo: Ang Lee: A ship crewman in line just before Pi's mother, receiving his food tray from the cook.