Yann Martel’s Life of Pi follows the lengthy journey of a young man and a Bengal tiger as they traipse across the ocean in a lifeboat. Before director Ang Lee took up the mantle, many considered the book to be beautiful, but virtually unfilmable. If there is a will, there is a way, and Lee discerned very adeptly how Life of Pi needed to be told onscreen.

Lee’s version works because it gives us the chance to hear Pi’s story told from the mouth of an older, wiser version of the young religious believer, who plays a smaller role in the books. It works because it takes all of the visions readers have created in their heads while reading Life and Pi and makes those visions bigger, bolder, and brighter. It works because it streamlines a lengthy tale without making us feel as we are missing anything key to the narrative. As a film, Life of Pi is a visual masterpiece, but it isn’t better than the book.

Following are the 9 biggest changes I noticed in my screening of Life of Pi. Feel free to remark on any I may have missed.

There are many spoilers in the Life of Pi book to movie comparison. Do not jump in if you have not seen the film.

Most of the lengthy intro in Martel’s book is shortened in the film. The tale Pi gives of his childhood is still one of changing his nickname, living in a zoo, and finding religion. However, many of his teachers and mentors (and even some of his zoo knowledge) are cut out of the narrative for the sake of maintaining the love and lessons Pi learns from his family.

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