Ang Lee’s film of Life of Pi is a special effects spectacle and pantheistic allegory about human diversity and coexistence in a multicultural society.  When Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) escapes from a sinking ship and finds himself alone in a boat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker, he is horrified to see the animals fight and devour each other until only he and the vicious Parker are left.  He finds himself, in other words, in the unenviable situation of witnessing the symbolized civil strife and disintegration of mutually resentful and belligerent ethnic groups forced to share a cramped piece of real estate.

In George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, a scientist suggests that the hordes of cannibalistic zombies taking over Pittsburgh might be pacified by a food program.  The film’s audience understands that the man is losing his mind, but Life of Pi takes his idea and runs with it.  Presented with the options of either trying to kill Parker, being eaten by him, or attempting to coexist peacefully on the boat, Pi opts for the latter and does his best to domesticate and placate the boat’s savage and carnivorous demographic by feeding it fish.  He has, in short, opted to implement a floating microcosm of the Great Society.

A visit to an island teeming with identical meerkats demonstrates the danger of a racially homogenous society.  Everything appears to be dandy on the utopian island until night falls, when the place itself turns carnivorous and secretes toxic chemicals, so that the whole island constitutes a gigantic Venus flytrap.  Take note, America.  If not for all of the minorities in your midst, you, too, would soon fall prey to a venomous meerkat conformity.  Note that a group of meerkats is, according to Wikipedia, termed a “clan” (i.e., Klan).  Pi indicates the role reserved for racially pure majorities in his Great Society when, on embarking from the island, he takes several meerkats along to feed Richard Parker.

3.5 of 5 possible stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Life of Pi is:

6. Green.  Pi loves animals and apologizes to a dazed fish after he beats it in the head to subdue it, imagining it to be an incarnation of God.  The sinister island of (white) anti-diversity pollutes itself with chemicals as well as intolerant delusion.

5. Anti-Christian.  Pi feeds Parker fish, indicating that Christians are expendable and fair game for processing as Soylent Green in maintaining the multiethnic peace.  They are, if not thrown to the lion, to be thrown to the tiger.

4. Pro-family.  Pi’s family is loving and he is sorry to lose them at sea.

3. Multiculturalist.  The story is framed when a directionless, unshaven white guy (Rafe Spall) comes to enlightened Indian Pi (played as an adult by Irrfan Khan) hoping to be inspired with faith.  Pi, in addition to being spiritually attuned, is a mathematical genius and polyglot.  Mexicans come to Pi’s aid when he washes up on their beach.  The desirability of racial homogeneity, the film suggests, is a poisonous illusion.  Grande Utopie Sovietique et Progressif defector Gerard Depardieu has a cameo as a grumpy and probably racist cook who, disrespectful of the exotic religious and culinary views of Pi’s vegetarian mother (Tabu),  insensitively slops murderous gravy onto her plate.  Meerkats, like fish, are expendable.

2. Egalitarian.  Feeding the tiger gives Pi’s life meaning.

1. New Age.  Pantheist Pi, who considers himself a Christian and a Muslim in addition to (and as a function of) being a Hindu, thanks Vishnu for introducing him to Jesus.  Karma is God’s way, he says.  In his present-day life as a college professor, he teaches a Kabbala class.

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