My people like our Christmases dark, especially when it comes to the movie portion of our celebration.
An all-time favorite Christmas Day screening was Quills, starring Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade. Two years ago, Black Swan was my favorite Christmas movie.
During the past week at my mom’s, I read Gone Girl (Marriage can be a real killer) and watched the entire last season of Dexter (America’s Favorite Serial Killer).
So I consider The Life of Pi to have been a rather mainstream choice of Christmas movie. After all, its premise is that Pi’s life story “will make you believe in God.”
Warning: I am not about to spoil the ending of the movie as much as this interesting post, but if you haven’t read the book and want to remain spoiler-free, skip the next couple of grafs. I don’t think what I’m about to write will actually ruin the MOVIE for anyone, but I’m more sensitive to spoilers in books, it seems.
I didn’t like the ending of The Life of Pi when I read it. It felt like an “it was all a dream” cop out. Armed with this information when I saw the movie, I saw an early clue that Pi might not be a completely reliable narrator.
Our hero describes the day he got his classmates to start calling him by the nickname Pi. We see him writing the decimal out to a bazillion places on a chalkboard. I thought to myself, “No way he memorized ALL those places. He’s exaggerating.”
Which might lead one to believe that he exaggerated other parts of his tale.
Cut to the ending, when Pi asks his listener which version of a story he prefers: the whimsical and improbable one, or the more likely, sadder one.
Everyone likes the improbable one better, right?
Pi says, “And so it goes with God.”
Interesting. Both stories tell of overcoming incredible adversity, but the improbable one goes down better. Like all those stories in the Bible? Like, probably Noah didn’t really have an ark with two of every animal on it? Is that what Pi is saying?
In any case, Pi’s story didn’t make me believe in God. (It’s a really good movie though. Friends of mine worked on it. You should see it.) I said to my mother, “I don’t think there’s any story that can make a person believe in God. People who already believe in God already believe in him.”
The next day, we saw Les Miserables and as the credits rolled, I whispered, “That story kind of makes me believe in God.”
Warning: For some reason, I assume that anyone who wants to see Les Miserables already knows who lives and dies, so there be spoilers ahead.
Consider the following lyrics:
“My soul belongs to God I know, I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on.”
I mean, wow. That’s powerful. So we know that Valjean believes in God, and without that belief, he never would have overcome his horrible adversity. For sure I believe in Valjean’s belief… but does that make me believe in God?
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Again. Wow. GoodReads tells me that’s straight from the source material.
But really, here’s what does it. As miserables as their lives are, people’s prayers come true!
Fantine tells Valjean, “My daughter’s close to dying. If there’s a god above, he’d let me die instead.”
Guess what happens?
Then, Valjean sings of Marius, “If I die, let me die. Let him live. Bring him home.”
Guess what happens?
(It’s a really good movie. You should see it. I like Hugh Jackman as Valjean as much as I like him as Wolverine. Anne Hathaway is breathtaking in closeup singing I Dreamed a Dream in one take. Amanda Seyfried sings like a Disney princess.)
You know what else these movies have in common, besides God? Yep. Tigers.