Is being alone with oneself--or with God, not like being alone with a wild animal? It can attack you any moment.--But isn't that precisely why you shouldn't run away?! Isn't that, so to speak, what's glorious?! Doesn't it mean: grow fond of this wild animal!--And yet one must ask: Lead us not into temptation!So I watched the whole thing. But what does it all mean?
Several things, I think:
- Near the beginning of the film, the very religious (which in his case seems to be more a matter of having many religions than of being unusually devout) boy Pi (guess whether this quirky name has a quirky origin) is taught a lesson by his anti-religious father. When his father catches Pi holding meat through the bars of a tiger's caged home he shows him how dangerous this is by tying a goat there and making the boy watch as the tiger kills it and drags it through the bars to eat it. He tells Pi and his brother that anything they think they see in an animal's eyes is just a projection. Really, the lesson seems to be, nature is heartless, even cruel. The boy starts reading existentialist literature and feels the world to be disenchanted. So this is part of the point: being stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger is like being in the goat's position. It means having to come to terms with nature, with creation (and hence, in a way, with God), having to learn to live with it, and, in the end, befriending it, as Pi does the tiger named (quirk alert!) Richard Parker.
- I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that the boat in which the tiger and the young man travel is also like our own earthly vessel, the body. Within it are two competing forces: the person and the wild beast, the ego and the id, the rational part of the soul or inner man and the insatiable monster of appetite. How can the two coexist harmoniously? Well, shouting "Aaaaargh!" a lot apparently helps. God works in mysterious ways.
- At the end of the film Pi tells another version of his voyage in the lifeboat, one in which the various animals (at one point there is a hyena, an orangutan, and a zebra on the boat as well) are replaced by people. He explicitly says that the tiger is him. So, I am the tiger. Each of us is a wild beast, capable of great evil, etc.
- Finally, now that we have two versions of the story, each consistent with the available evidence, Pi suggests that we choose the version we prefer. He also suggests that belief in God is like this. And he chooses to believe.