When ‘Real’ Isn’t Enough

 

(Here’s my photo of a grassy section of Goddard Park, in Warwick, RI, at the end of day, with the late afternoon sunlight filtering through.)

Went to the movie “Life of Pi”  yesterday, and I must say:  I found it eerily unnecessary.  If I thought it were going to give me that “Old Man and the Sea” purpose, I was disappointed, for it wasn’t simple (as is Hemingway’s material;) the movie seemed to derive much of its value from cinematic tricks…special effects in photography…whatever.

So many things in the movie appeared surreal.  There were the fish in the water, appearing almost irradiated, glowing (the dance of the jellyfish at night comes to mind.) There was the whale scene where that animal lunges out of the water, just near Pi’s makeshift raft…Again, his carefully-crafted choreography anything but real but having a cartoonish “Jonah and the Whale” feel….The acid pool at the end appearing as if lit from below (when that wouldn’t have been possible.)

It got me to thinking:  “Why does everything, today, have to be enhanced… buoyed… bumped up?” Why isn’t ‘real’ good enough anymore?  Especially Nature (and don’t get me started on Female Body Parts).

It’s like my own photos.  Now I can enhance them with special effects, thanks to programs like Instagram and Picasa.  If I utilize their talents, they allow me to edit my photos, pop their colors, blur some parts of a shot completely out, while I intensify other aspects.

Cropping and removing red-eye aren’t the sole features, anymore.

So, all this begs the question:  “Why isn’t ‘real’ good enough anymore?”

Then, too, “Do any of us really want to take on the role of perfecting Nature?” “Are we really saying we’ll do a better job?”

Seems to me that’s slightly egocentric, on our part.

I don’t know about you, but when I attempt to perfect something, I find I’ve overdone it (like working pastry too long or whipping mashed potatoes, only to find out they’ve turned into a gelatinous, glue-like substance that I now need to throw out.)

I think that can happen here, and I think it did with “Life of Pi.”

Now, don’t get me wrong: “Life of Pi” had an interesting (if unbelievable) story line—and I’m not skeptical of this merely because the boy’s religious, while I still question.  I think the actors played their parts well (but these days almost all do.)

Yeah, sure, it got a little draggy when they bounced around the open sea for all those days (I think 200+.) But then again, I’m sure time dragged for them a whole lot more.

In the end, I weigh this movie against that classic “Old Man and the Sea,” for there’s a lot of similarity.  It pitched a human being against his faith, daring him to persevere when all else told him to quit.

It had its share of sea monsters…the sharks…the whale…predators who case the situation, ready to pounce.

One had a very old man whose agility, stamina, power were waning, while the other was young… not quite at the zenith of his power.

Both had enduring faith in a higher power…God.

In the end,  I liked “Old Man and the Sea” better, for it didn’t eradicate the central issue—the role of faith, by focusing on peripheral aspects…In other words, it didn’t cheapen the core.

Finally, I get insulted by movies like “Life of Pi,” for they attempt to distract me from the central issue; they want me placated and pleased by sensory filters.  And I just find that annoying.

So ‘real’?  It’s good enough for me. Yes, it’s often even ‘remarkable.’

And today’s movies (like “Life of Pi”)?  I can only hope the reliance on special effects is merely a short-lived trend. But here’s one critic’s view  that differs from mine and yes, I know:  I’m in a distinct minority (but that’s what makes life interesting–the fact we’re not all alike.) But I do agree, too, with this author:  I, too, now want to read the book (which I hear is ‘even better than the movie.’)

But what do you think?  Did you see “Life of Pi” and what was your take on this movie that’s gotten so much attention?

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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