Life of Pi is the perfect pre-Christmas movie. The film hits UK cinemas on 20th December and Grazia Daily was lucky enough to get a sneak peek last week. We're sworn to absolute secrecy except to say: WOW. Director Ang Lee takes you on a truly magical journey, which is breathtakingly beautiful, while the not-so-crouching tiger will have you enthralled from start to finish. To celebrate the film adaption of the must-read book, we've rounded up 10 fascinating facts you need to know...
1. An extensive talent search throughout India was conducted to find LIFE OF PI’s Piscine Patel. Over 3,000 young men auditioned and eventually 17-year-old Suraj Sharma was selected. Suraj never intended to audition for the role; it was his brother who was set to read for the part.
2. Despite the fact that one whole act of LIFE OF PI is set in the turbulent ocean, Suraj did not know how to swim at the start of the film. It was the job of stunt coordinator Charlie Croughwell and his son, stuntman Cameron Croughwell, to transform Suraj into an outstanding swimmer.
3. To match Pi’s physical transformation, Suraj had to gain weight and then lose those additional pounds of muscle, and more, in real time and with no hiatus. Through a stringent program of diet and physical training, the Croughwells transformed Suraj from a skinny 150 pounds to a muscular 167 pounds. Then during the course of filming they dramatically reduced his weight to just over 130 pounds, to embody Pi’s struggles.
4. The world’s largest self-generating wave tank ever was designed and built for the motion picture. The water tank was located in Taichung, Taiwan, on the site of a former airport, the tank measured 70 meters long, 30 meters wide and 4 meters deep, with a capacity of 1.7 million gallons, and allowed the filmmakers to generate a range of water textures.
5. Four actual Royal Bengal Tigers served as physical and performance references. Animal trainer Thierry Le Portier found three of the four key animals in France and one in Canada. Their names: King, Min, Themus and Jonas.
6. Visual Effects Supervisor Bill Westenhofer credits the hundreds of hours of video the filmmakers took of tigers as invaluable reference for their CG creation, which was used due to the close interactions between Pi and Richard Parker.
7. The surreal and mysterious meerkat island was realized through a combination of a practical location shot deep within a colony of indigenous banyan trees at a Taiwanese botanical reserve, sets designed by production designer David Gropman, and digitally created environments.
8. Approximately 5,500 local residents were hired as background actors for the magnificent exterior scenes.
9. The production secured permission to shoot on the grounds of Pondicherry’s 1000-year-old Villanur Temple.
10. Two thousand authentically costumed extras worked through the night until sunrise and upwards of 20,000 traditional diya candles were kept lit throughout the night.
Life Of Pi - in cinemas 20th December