In this recurring feature, Vulture speaks to the screenwriters of 2012’s most notable movies about the scenes that they found most difficult to crack. What pivotal sequences underwent the biggest transformations on their way from script to screen? Today, Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Magee talks to Kyle Buchanan about the ending to Life of Pi (and naturally, SPOILERS will follow):
The ending was tremendously difficult to write. Part of it was because we go from the past to the present and then we go to another area in the past, and that can be very jarring for people following this story. You want to make sure that the audience is following it, and at the same time, you want to make sure that you’re not insulting their intelligence.
We went through dozens and dozens of versions of the ending, and sometimes we’d agree among ourselves that it didn’t work, and other times we’d screen it for an audience and find that we were explaining too much or too little or distracting them with scenes they didn’t need.
The book has the luxury of spending 300-some pages to really explore a lot of different sides of the same story. We have two hours to tell that same story, and we want to bring you in as deeply as that book does, but we don’t want to lose you along the way. So it was a tremendous challenge, but I’m proud of the way it came off.