The Wisdom of a Fortune Cookie

I walked out of the movie of «The Life of Pi» the other day. That’s the third time in sixty-five years and about a million movies that I have wasted a good movie ticket.

I saw my first movie at age five in 1948: «Scott of the Antarctic». To my horror, I was forced to watch John Mills, a decent chap who played the brave hero, die. I had never seen anyone die before, and I knew that forcing a child to go through that experience — apart from being horrible — was in poor taste: very poor taste. But I didn’t walk out. The whole school was there, and you weren’t allowed to walk out. So I sat there and endured watching the nice man die in front of me. I have never quite trusted a film director since.

In 1983 I walked out on a movie for the first time. The movie was «Goodbye Paradise», a film written by Bob Ellis, an Australian writer with an ego much larger than his talent, and starring Ray Barrett. The movie seemed to take hours to bore you to death, slowly and painfully, so I walked, half-way through. I wasn’t annoyed, just saddened, and I had better things to do.

The second time was half way through «The Piano». I know when I am having my emotions manipulated by a gang of bourgeois frauds, and I walked out in a rage.

And «The Life of Pi»?

Let Ryan Gilbey give you his jaundiced opinion (from the «New Statesman», UK):

The late Michael Crichton once told me that he had been downhearted after seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day, that watershed moment in CGI, because he knew there would no longer be any barriers to what could be conjured up on screen. The dream, I suppose, would be that other aspects of the film-making process would be fortified: screenplays might become more complex, the camerawork innovative, to keep pace with technology. If this is the future, «Life of Pi» is a disastrous advertisement. David Magee’s screenplay is hamstrung by the banality of the points in Martel’s novel about the intersection between storytelling and faith. The film begins with the adult Pi promising he has a tale that will make anyone believe in God. It ends with a twist – well, more of a mild kink – that provides a new definition of anti-climax. The impression you take from «Life of Pi» is that of an extravagantly decorated cake with nothing inside but the wisdom of a fortune cookie.