In conversation with Ang Lee


Ang Lee wins the Academy Award for Best Director for 'Life of Pi'. Known for movies like 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee says his latest offering 'Life Of Pi', a 3D adventure drama, has been the most difficult film of his career.   Excerpts from the interview:


Q. 
How was the experience of working with Indian actors for the first time?

A. T
hey are the finest actors in the world, they are treasures of world cinema. They gave me their best and I give them mine. When you work with actors, you have to honest, you are directly communicating with them, you are dealing with human nature. So right away you go deep to a place that you don't share with your children or your spouse. I really treasure actors like that, they are special people and they have so much to show, to share. It's great that I got a chance to work with them.

Q.
What were the logistical issues you faced while shooting for a film of this magnitude?

A.
Whatever I imagined needs to be done will be done somehow. I know in America I can't do it, not only can I not do it, I can't afford it. I have to create my own method. The biggest challenge was the ocean part. Later on the CG part and shooting 3 D was really challenging. We create method, so, I took over an abandoned airport in Taiwan (Taichung) and I used the hangar, created a wave tank and an outer water tank.

Coming here with a Western crew is challenging but I got great support here, everyone was really supportive.

More about 'Life of Pi'

Q.
The book has an open-ended conclusion and perhaps that is easier to do in a book but how difficult is it to translate that in cinema?

A.
That's the hardest part in making the movie, in a book you are examining an illusion, you don't want to do that in mainstream. I have to design a movie structure that can give the first person feeling and the third person examination. That's why I had Irrfan play the big Pi, to give him the mature voice, so that you are not only following Suraj and his journey but you are also following the same person. You can examine him, describe him and get a perspective.

So that's my device but I still ran into some very difficult editing process. How to make the last act work when you bring up the second story? When you conclude the movie, how do you not take people out of the story? That's really a challenge and I think we barely make it work (laughs).

Q. 
You have adapted books with varied subjects, like Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility", Annie Proulx "Brokeback Mountain" and now, Yann Martel's "Life of Pi". What really appeals to you about the books that you decide to adapt into films?

A.
In essence those literature and the stories are the ones that have really moved me. I then try to translate that into cinema.

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