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Religions 2016, 7(8), 96; doi:10.3390/rel7080096

Screening Belief: The Life of Pi, Computer Generated Imagery, and Religious Imagination

Department of Philosophy and Religion, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Academic Editor: Joseph Kickasola
Received: 18 March 2016 / Revised: 20 July 2016 / Accepted: 21 July 2016 / Published: 26 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Film and Lived Theology)
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Abstract

Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi is based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. The film expands upon the novel’s fantastic story through the integration of new visual metaphors that invite religious reflection, and is reinforced by religious rituals within and beyond the film itself. Martel’s novel invites readers to believe Pi’s story without seeing it. Viewers of the film, by contrast, are invited to believe Pi’s story precisely because they are seeing it so vividly. Ang Lee constructs a filmic world using such elaborately developed CGI (computer-generated imagery) that the film exhibits only a vestigial relationship to the real-life animals and locations used in its creation. Indeed, it is impossible to make sense of the film’s extensive use of religious themes and rituals without understanding its use of immersive visual effects. For Ang Lee, the manufacture of a seamless, aesthetically appealing CGI world was a means of visually affirming the broadly conceived notions of interconnectedness and purpose that he borrowed from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Jewish mysticism. View Full-Text
Keywords: computer-generated imagery; film; CGI; visual effects; storytelling; Kabbalah; Hinduism; Islam; Christianity; Judaism computer-generated imagery; film; CGI; visual effects; storytelling; Kabbalah; Hinduism; Islam; Christianity; Judaism
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Wagner, R. Screening Belief: The Life of Pi, Computer Generated Imagery, and Religious Imagination. Religions 2016, 7, 96.

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