It’s always so nerve-racking when one of your favourite books is being released as a movie (or film, as my friend Catherine would say). There’s so much potential for greatness (I’m looking at you, English Patient) but more often than not, it’s a total disappointment (Water for Elephants, The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby… and don’t even get me started on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). Usually the movie doesn’t live up to the world that your mind creates while absorbed by a great novel. Needless to say, I’m giving Cloud Atlas a very wide berth.
Despite that, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about Life of Pi, which is scheduled to be released tomorrow. It’s directed by Ang Lee, a director whose success rate is higher than most. He’s shown that he can cross genres with ease and already has two excellent book adaptations under his belt (The Ice Storm and Sense and Sensibility). I’m pretty intrigued by the trailers, which prompted me to pull the book off my shelf and re-read the last 50 pages to refresh myself on the specifics of one of the best book endings I’ve ever read.
On the other hand, Life of Pi has generally been considered to be “unfilmable” which I guess is why it’s taken so long for a movie to be made. (The book was published in 2001 and won the Man Booker in 2002.) And it’s being released in 3D which seems… unnecessary. So far I’m not a convert to the religion of 3D movies; I’ve yet to see a movie that was substantially improved by being filmed that way. So far critics are calling Life of Pi a technical masterpiece, the nuances of which would generally be lost on me. I’ll just be looking for whether Lee does justice to the superb storytelling of Martel’s unforgettable novel. That is, if I go and see it at all. It might be better to let Richard Parker live on in my imagination.