I’ve never read Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, but in reacquainting myself with the premise (a 16-year old boy drifts for almost a year in a boat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker) I can see why it might be difficult to adapt.
That explains, in part, why several major directors have been attached and why they’ve all failed to make the movie. M. Night Shyamalan thought about tackling it before moving to Fox for Lady in the Water, Dean Georgaris wrote a script that was once pegged for Alfonso Cuaron, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet co-wrote a version with Guillaume Laurent.
Now Ang Lee wants to have a crack; he’ll supervise the screenplay efforts of a scribe that is yet to be hired. The animal imagery I’ve seen associated with the book leads me to think of Tarsem, but Lee is a reasonable choice. Few genres and narratives have truly stymied him, and when one of his films clicks there’s a nice underlying tension that would work well for a boy stranded in a boat with a tiger. He also has a certain preoccupation with truths that are hidden behind people and their stories. That’s right in line with this tale.