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Top 10 Life of Pi Trivia

VO: Rebecca
This film is an adaptation of Yann Martel's prize winning Canadian novel. A heartfelt and spiritual tale of a boy who survives 227 days at sea with a Tiger for his only travel companion, the beautiful film won Ang Lee an Academy Award for best director, while recapturing the magic of the source material. Of course, as a film, many of the details had to be changed for the silver screen. Join as we explore ten pieces of trivia about “Life of Pi.”

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Top 10 Life of Pi Trivia

There’s a lot you don’t know about this fantasy adventure story. Welcome to and today we’ll be exploring ten pieces of trivia about “Life of Pi.”

#10 – The Inspiration

Our trivia list begins with a fact the origins of this story: this tale of a boy who survives 227 days at sea is based on a prize-winning novel of the same name. Written by Canadian author Yann Martel, this story’s inspiration came from a review of the 1981 novella “Max and the Cats,” which centered on a Jewish-German refugee crossing the Atlantic Ocean with a jaguar.

#9 – Casting Pi

In the film, the teenage Piscine Molitor Patel, otherwise known as Pi, is older than he is in the book, to make room for a romantic storyline. Incredibly, 17-year-old Suraj Sharma was selected from more than three thousand hopefuls to fill the role, even though he had never acted before. He only tried out at the request of his brother, whom he had accompanied to the audition.

#8 – Reduced Intro and Rating

For the film, many story elements were changed to accommodate the new format and pacing. As a result, most of the lengthy intro of Martel’s book was shortened, which means the focus moved from Pi’s mentors to the lessons he learned from his family. The tone of the movie was also changed: the anguish and horror of the book was removed so the film would be family-friendly with a PG rating.

#7 – Nod to the Book

Even though the film changed many aspects of the original story, it lovingly paid respect to the source material with various visual cues. The most notable of these is the overhead shot that shows Pi and the tiger Richard Parker asleep while curled up on opposite ends of the boat as fish swim beneath them. This is a direct tribute to the book’s cover.

#6 – Creating The Tiger

Though Pi spends much of the film trapped with Richard Parker, actor Suraj Sharma was never actually in the boat with the live 450-pound tiger. The real tiger only filmed select scenes, like when he is sitting at the beginning of the film, swimming in the water and during stick training. CGI was used for the remaining shots, and – in fact – 86 percent of the tiger shots were artificial.

#5 – The Untamable Friendship

When “Life of Pi” showed up in theaters, Pi was never fully able to tame the tiger. But, this was not the case in the book: Pi actually uses his zoo and circus knowledge to subdue the beast – we know this because the creature makes a noise that tells us he is no longer aggressive. But to keep the movie tension high, this part was cut.

#4 – Glances of Vishnu

This film has a major focus on religion and a higher power, and in fact, the god Vishnu appears at key moments throughout. Vishnu’s profile appears on the distant hills when Pi is on holiday, during his visit to the church, in the clouds on a dark night at sea and as the outline of the carnivorous island.

#3 – The Carnivorous Island

Speaking of the island: in the film, Pi and Richard Parker only spend a day there, which was done for the sake of narrative flow. While the island and its terror are displayed through scenes like when Pi discovers human teeth, it is shown in such a way as to present doubt over its actual existence, as further elaborated on by Pi when he is older and speaking with the writer.

#2 – Ang Lee’s Moments of Cinematic Beauty

Director Ang Lee manages to capture the novels moments of beauty and wonder on film, including such elements as a lightning storm and the introduction of the whale. While the movie’s running time meant may cuts were necessary, the biggest omission is the fact that audiences do not overhear Pi’s thoughts. To make up for this, the film relies on aspect ratio changes and stunning cinematography to convey teenage Pi’s emotions.

#1 – Oscar Milestones

Rounding out our trivia is a fact about this movie’s winning ways: this is the first film that was not rated PG-13 or R for older audiences to win the Oscar for Best Director since 1985’s “Out of Africa.” It was also the first family film to win the Oscar for Best Director since 1969’s “Oliver!,” and the first film to win Best Director without taking home the Best Motion Picture Academy Award since Lee’s other project, 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.”

Are you a fan of “Life of Pi”? Which did you enjoy more, the novel or the film? For more illuminating top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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