Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Pi" (1997)

A film noir about the mysteries of Pi and the Golden Ratio and other theoretical, mathematical enigmas has no business being watchable. If you add in things like shadowy economic conspiracies and fringe religious mystical orders it should make things even worse. Now have the whole thing told in an intensely claustrophobic perspective with internal monolog narrating most of your story and you should have scared off even the most dedicated of art house film geeks. Even so, 1997’s “Pi” is strangely engaging.

I know that if the majority of the people who read my blog take this review as encouragement and seek this film out to watch they will likely be let down and let me know what a bad recommendation I have made, so let me be clear: This film is not as accessible as it sounds. Even so, I think it might be a great film.

It is somewhere in the neighborhood of “Repulsion” or some other early Polanski film. However, where those films just explored the fragile human psyche and what it might be like to have a sick mind, this film touches on true issues of our human mental limitations. What does it mean to be finite but to contemplate infinity? How do we cope with knowing intuitively that the world makes sense in its design and structure, but that we do not have the capacity to grasp that order completely?

Whether one turns to theories of the conspiracy slant or religious systems institutionalized by tradition, the truth is we cannot understand the world the way we would like. When our protagonist here gets close it nearly destroys him.

Unlike some mystical branches of theology that seek to discover the key to ultimate knowledge, the Bible makes it clear that that is not where true wisdom is to be found. In fact, the origin of sin is explained as that very pursuit. Instead true wisdom is found in creaturely humility—the recognition that we are not God and that we don’t need to know everything. “Fear of God” or trusting His good character and plan are the real key to successful living.

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