Realism in a Digital Age :Life of Pi

In digital age, filmmakers use CGI to create many virtual characters and make some unrealized  scenes come true. “in numerous ways visual effects provide filmmakers with avenues toward realism, provided the category of realism is expanded from the precondition of live action filming and image spaces that are created and treated holistically”(Prince, 2012.p.3).

In 2012, Ang Lee’s first 3D film-“Life of Pi” be released. The film tells a story which about young Pi encountered a shipwreck and his family were dead, he and a Bengal tiger in the lifeboat drifting 227 days, people and tiger to establish a strange relationship, and eventually overcome the plight of the rebirth. This film  won the best director and the best visual effects in the 85th Oscars.


In most of the time of the film, there are only a young boy and a Bengal tiger. We all know using a real tiger playing with the actor is very danger and impractical, so the tiger is created with the computer. But, the spectators hardly perceived the tiger is not real.    And those magnificent scenes, huge waves and tsunami also depend on the computer-generated imagery. The mysterious floating island with surrealism, lived countless foxes, these scenes are using real shooting combined with art design and digital technology. In this film, the audiences can fall into a strong association, as if they far away from the unber and caught in the vast sea.

3D technology makes the film field of vision to be extended of “Life of Pi” and makes the emotion of the audiences deeper into the story.”To compare Life of Pi with Avatar is not to suggest that Lee’s movie will challenge the Cameron movie for all-time box office supremacy. But Pi is a giant leap forward, outward and upward in expanding the resources of the evolving medium of movies. Magical realism was rarely so magical and never before so real”( Corliss, 2012).

written by Muchen Ren


Prince, S. (2012). Introduction: Beyond Spectacle. In: Prince, S. Digital Visual Effects in Cinema. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. p.3.

Richard Corliss. (2012). Ang Lee’s Life of Pi: The Next Avatar.TIME. Available from [Accesssed 18th March]


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