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Bill T. Jones on Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director Preview

Lee had his full box of tricks with “Life of Pi.” It’s a bigscreen movie, and yet it’s all in service of something quite personal. At the end of the movie, the narrator chooses the tale with the tiger over the other tale. I also wanted to believe the story about the tiger, and it gives one permission to have irrational belief in God.

When the hyena attacks the zebra with the orangutang looking on, it was pure terror for me and stomach-churning. And the situation was completely preposterous but believable; we could see nature in minature, with every creature on the boat behaving in sync with its true nature.

I was thinking of Melville while I watched “Life of Pi.” The story goes out to cosmic forces and this boy crying out to God, and then the story goes inward to the tensions the boy has with his mother and father, his desire to live, and his being sent on this journey where he has to reinvent himself. The one out and the one in. That’s a testament to Ang Lee’s great skill.

Bill T. Jones, a Kennedy Center honoree, received Tonys for choregraphing “Spring Awakening” and “Fela!,” which he also directed.

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