Which story do you prefer? The fantastic one with four animals and a boy in a lifeboat, or a story of humans going awry?
We always prefer the fantastical, the main character in the movie said last night. Even if it is not believable. And so it is with God.
Which was the takeaway, the message, the moral of the story.
Last night I saw Life of Pi in 3D with my eldest son Asher. It has all the requisite fantastic things a great movie should have – beautiful scenery, incredible characters, vivid storyline, tumult and flow, beauty and tragedy.
At the end, on the drive home, I asked Asher what he thought the message of the movie was. I can’t remember what he said, but it was so clear to me that this entire artistic creation was intended to get viewers thinking about what we believe and why: the fantastic or the concrete.
And then, the notion that it is so much more fun to believe in the fantastic.
The main character wants to be every religion and his father tells him he can’t believe in everything. Of course, it left me thinking, “Why not?”
That is the beauty in such a diversity of beliefs: that every single one of them has something worth clinging to. And something worth running from, fast.
There were themes of identity, native pride, patriotism, the debate over whether non-human creatures have souls, can they be our friends…
In the end, the main character shows his wife and two children, and his guest, who has been listening with rapt attention to the fantastic story of a months-long sea journey with a boy and a Bengal tiger, says, “Oh, so you did have a happy ending.”
And of course he replies something like maybe.
Because in the end, all the ancient traditions teach us that what at first is nectar, ends up as poison. And what is first poison, turns out to be sweet.