With director Ang Lee’s new film Life of Pi hitting theaters today, we thought we’d take a look at some other films where animals have been inspirational.

Life of Pi is based on a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel. Pi is an Indian boy from Pondicherry, who explores his issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger. This is director Ang Lee’s first film since filming Taking Woodstock and it’s been said to have been a monumental undertaking.

Its visual effects are being hailed as revolutionary and its story beyond inspirational, as Pi and a Bengal tiger have to first learn to simply coexist and end up having to rely upon one another to survive. Because of this, we thought we’d take a look at some other films where animals have inspired us.

‘Free Willy’

Free Willy was released back in 1993, but it’s just as inspirational as it was nearly 20 years ago. The orca (killer whale) was caught in a whaling net and sold to an amusement park with a shady owner.

The films main character, Jesse, is a 12-year-old boy who has been on the streets since he was abandoned by his mother and is ordered to community service where he has to clean the park where Willy is kept. While there, Willy and Jesse become fast friends and together they go on a journey to build themselves back up and learn to trust others. Jesse finds friendship in the unlikeliest place and he begins to heal the wounds left by his destroyed childhood.

One of the most inspirational scenes was when Jesse motions for Willy to jump over the jetty and he jumps to the open ocean to his freedom. While losing his friend, Jesse has now learned to trust others and finally feels at home. Free Willy was also a smash hit in the early ’90s and went on to gross over $150 million at the box office.


In 2003 Tobey McGuire starred in a biographical sports drama based on the non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film was based on the story of a horse and a young man (McGuire) who have to learn to be winners again.

McGuire was the jockey that was much too large and Seabiscuit was the horse that didn’t know how small he was – they were a perfect fit. Taking place during the Great Depression, the film had quite a few somber moments. Jeff Bridges starred as a wealthy businessman who loses his family when his son dies in an awful car accident that alternates the course of his life. Bridges meets Red (McGuire) and the two get together to race Seabiscuit.

Red, blind in one eye due to illegal boxing matches he took part in to make enough money to live, was intelligent but very destructive, due to his family abandoning him when he was a young boy. Bridges later meets up with the then unknown Elizabeth Banks, who becomes his love interest. This great cast teamed up to make one hell of a film and instead of them training Seabiscuit to be a winner again, Biscuit ends up teaching them that anyone can succeed if they’re just given a second chance.

‘King Kong’

Peter Jackson had been dreaming of making a King Kong remake even before he started shooting the first Lord of The Rings film, and when word was out that he was doing a remake, fans were ecstatic. Starring Naomi Watts and one big gorilla, we watch the iconic 1933 story unfold as Watts falls for the unlikely beast.

Although this film was a massive 3 hours and 7 minutes long, most would agree it’s well worth it. Ann Darrow (Watts) takes her chances on a shady director (Jack Black) and a rickety ship because she refuses to take the wrong turn in life, despite the curve balls she’s been thrown. She goes on an adventure to see her dream of becoming a film actress and ends up falling for Kong as he protects her from the elements of Skull island.

King Kong is brought to New York and he longs for his blonde beauty, so he breaks away from his shackles and finds Ann. He could have easily made his way away from the city and possibly have lived, but he had to protect Darrow and it sadly results in his death. The lesson learned in this film is that love is always stronger than greed and we’re always too quick to try and make a buck off of one of the world’s biggest wonders.


Ratatouille (2007) is a movie about a rat. But not just any rat – a rat that loves to cook. The film follows Remy from his humble beginnings where he has a close call with an angry, curler-wearing, shotgun-wielding old lady, to his realization that he lives in France and has ended up near one of the greatest restaurants in all of Paris.

Remy can’t help what he is, and he’s determined not to let that stop him. Sure, he may be a rodent of the generally unclean and feral variety, but he’s not like the rest of his family and friends. He’s got a nose for good food and taste buds that demand the best. But what really sets him apart is his desire and a drive to achieve his goals, no matter how unrealistic they might be.

Remy teaches us that no goal is unachievable. Think you’ve got it tough? Try being a mouse attempting to convince a kitchen full of professional chefs that you want to feed a peasant dish to a famous food critic. That’s tough. Remy inspires us to find any means possible to do what we love, no matter how strange, how crazy, or how improbable it might seem to everyone else.

‘The Chronicles of Narnia’

Aslan is one of the most respected and awe-inspiring creatures in literary and cinematic history. He appears and disappears in the blink of an eye, only stepping forward when his intervention is absolutely necessary. He stays close to the Pevensies in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) because he believes that each of them is important and that each of them will have a hand in finally defeating the White Witch.

Aslan teaches us to believe – in something, anything. Ourselves, each other, him, fate. It doesn’t matter what, as long as we trust in something. As long as we have something worth fighting for. Aslan knew that his life was no more important than anyone else’s.

He was willing to give himself up to save a boy who had betrayed the people of Narnia, simply because it was the right thing to do. Throughout the series, Aslan teaches each of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that they have both strengths and weaknesses, and tells them that whichever ones they decide to give into is what defines them.


Tarzan (1999) sees its title character orphaned at an incredibly young age. A sympathetic gorilla take him in and raises her as his own. He befriends a few other animals, but he’s generally viewed as an outcast – especially in the eyes of the silverback that leads the gorilla troop.

Tarzan grows into a man, but doesn’t necessarily grow into his place within the group. He’s still a little strange, a little different, and a little bit of an outsider. This is only put into even more perspective when other humans show up in the jungle, searching for the gorillas, and Tarzan finally meets someone that looks like him. But never once throughout the entire movie does Tarzan’s mother see him as an outsider. He is her son, regardless of species.

She teaches us to be patient and understanding of someone’s differences, and to never judge a person by what’s on the outside. She looks past the physical dissimilarities and sees only Tarzan’s heart, which is no different than her own.

Do you plan on seeing ‘Life of Pi’ this weekend?

Let us know in the comments which other films you’ve enjoyed where animals have had inspirational roles.

Co-written with Karen Rought.

On May 2, 2016, J.K. Rowling commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts by apologizing for killing Lupin, and telling us that the Grim Reaper almost chose Arthur instead.

Father figures have always been an important aspect of the Harry Potter series, and Rowling always knew that a few of them (RIP Sirius, Dumbledore, Lupin) would have to be killed during the Chosen One’s 7-year journey. Interestingly, Rowling revealed this week that Lupin could’ve been alive today if it weren’t for the fact that Arthur Weasley made it through Order of the Phoenix. As the author explains it:

This is a hard pill to swallow, and the first time we’re explicitly hearing that Arthur living meant Lupin dying. So, we thought we should debate this topic. Did J.K. Rowling make the right choice when she chose to kill Remus Lupin over Arthur Weasley? We asked two of our writers to each defend a position.

Selina: Yes, killing Lupin was the right choice


Let’s journey back in time. The year is 2003, and you’ve been up for 72 hours straight, ploughing through the overwhelmingly long Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It’s been a bumpy ride, Harry’s fifth year being decidedly unpleasant, and you’re emotionally exhausted. Then you get to the Department of Mysteries, and here we are: Sirius is dead. Just like that, the man who could have been Harry’s adoptive father, his way out of the hellish Dursley household, is gone.

Now imagine you going through all that, except Arthur Weasley had also died in the middle of the book. You wouldn’t have been able to take it.

Ultimately we might argue that J.K. Rowling should just have kept them both alive, but at the end of the day, it was important for her to kill off one of the series’ two fathers, to achieve the symmetry of leaving a child without its parent(s) like Harry had been.

Not only did killing both Lupin and Tonks leave baby Teddy an orphan, perfectly mirroring Harry’s own experience, but it was also — arguably — an act of mercy to kill Lupin rather than Arthur. Teddy Lupin would still get to grow up with people who loved him, knowing that his parents died heroes, while Harry and the Weasleys (who’d already lost Fred) would get to keep their family intact. Considering the lengths J.K. Rowling went to to effectively end Harry’s childhood (killing Sirius, Dumbledore, and Hedwig), leaving both Weasley parents alive allowed us to end the series on a hopeful note. The parents don’t always have to die in order for the children to grow up.

I’m not glad that Lupin died. But if the choice was between him and Arthur, I think Jo made the right call. Knowing that Harry and his friends could still visit the Burrow after the Battle of Hogwarts — and that even if the place was a lot less bright without Fred, it still felt like a safe, loving home — is a great comfort, especially knowing how much Harry valued the Weasleys and the surrogate family they formed around him.

Laura: Killing Lupin was wrong, she sacrificed the last of the Marauders and the keys to the past


Let’s revise the top of this article, shall we? His name is Remus Lupin, not just Lupin, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that Harry and company ever had. Without Remus Lupin the trio would have been dead: no Expecto Patronum, no recognizing Bogarts, no practical experience with Grindylows, Red Caps, or Hinkypunks. Harry and every student in his year was left with a substandard skill set thanks to Quirrell and Lockhart. Without question, Remus Lupin laid the groundwork for the success that was later achieved by Dumbledore’s Army. He made up for lost time, in a positive and uplifting manner, and was the friendly guidance the students needed.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and what better fictional teacher to appreciate than Remus Lupin. He never underestimated his students, he challenged them to do more than they ever thought possible. He didn’t just spend time with shining stars like Hermione, but he made time for people that no one else cared to. Would Neville Longbottom have ever had the confidence to succeed leading Hogwarts without Harry, Ron, and Hermione without Remus Lupin having taken a personal interest? Every other teacher wrote Neville off as either incompetent, a fool, or both.

The one thing Remus Lupin provided to Harry that Arthur Wesley couldn’t was insight into Harry’s past. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on Arthur, but it’s not a role Arthur could ever fill. Remus Lupin could talk about James and Lily from first-hand experience: funny stories, hopes, sadness, all of it. Harry was left with no one to fill that role. There is an irreplaceable void in Harry’s life thanks to Remus’ death. Harry needed Remus.

Had Arthur died it would have been tragic, but his tightly bonded family would have had each other. His children were well grounded, knew who they were, and were ready to face the world. Arthur had done an amazing job raising them along with Molly. Remus didn’t have the chance to reach his fullest potential. Had Remus lived, he and Harry would have been new parents at relatively the same time. They would have progressed from a teacher/student relationship to just being friends. They would have watched their boys grow up together and been there for each other as parents in the post-war world.

Now it’s your turn! Vote in our poll and hit the comments to debate it

UnREAL season 2 is gonna be amazing, if this trailer is anything to go by.

We were blown away by the first season of UnREAL, the Lifetime drama tracking the inner workings of a The Bachelor-style reality show.

Full of awful people doing awful things, UnREAL had it all: Romance, intrigue, betrayal, death, and love. It unravels the mysticism of reality show culture (tl;dr: It’s all made up for ratings), while telling pretty compelling stories about selfish people.

In season 2, Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) are back for Everlasting‘s new season, with new bachelor Darius Hill (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s B.J. Britt) ready to win the hearts of the female contestants.

And if this trailer is any indication, this season is gonna be even wilder than the last:

Refreshingly, UnREAL doesn’t shy away from contentious, real-world issues. Having a black contestant is something The Bachelor itself has not yet managed to do, and of course, the reactions to that on the show are going to reflect both the good and bad parts of humanity.

Related: Why we need UnREAL‘s complicated feminism (opinion)

We’re hugely excited to see how UnREAL handles that, and of course to find out what exactly happened to Rachel after the season 1 finale — where, if you remember her scorned ex-lover Jeremy liaised with her mother to get her back on the medication which Rachel claimed ruined her life.

On the topic of life-ruiners, another returning player this year is last season’s bachelor Adam Cromwell (Freddie Stroma), whose whirlwind relationship with Rachel almost destroyed the lives of everyone involved with the reality show’s production.

Creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro have said there is some unfinished business between the pair, but we can’t exactly imagine them riding off into the sunset together!

‘UnREAL’ season 2 premieres Monday, June 6 on Lifetime

The Tony Award nominations were announced early this morning by actors Nikki M. James and Andrew Rannells. Who has a chance to take home the coveted award next month? Well, Hamilton and a bunch of other people.

Let’s get the lede out of the way: Hamilton was nominated for a whopping 16 awards. The former record stood at 15 nominations, held by both Billy Elliot and The Producers. The latter then went on to win 12 of those nominations, can Hamilton do the same?

James Corden will host the Tony Awards, to be held at Radio City Music Hall, next month. If his prior attendance at the Tony’s was any indication (he won Best Actor in a Play in 2012 for One Man, Two Guvnors) then it is sure to be an entertaining evening.

Check out the below list of Tony Award nominations for a variety of categories in both the musical and play sections. If you want to look at the full list, you can do so on the Tony’s website.

Check out the nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards for musicals:

Best Musical
Bright Star
School of Rock – The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical
Bright Star
School of Rock – The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Original Score
Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, Bright Star
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Glenn Sltater, Andrew Lloyd Webber School of Rock
Sara Bareilles, Waitress

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman, School of Rock – The Musical
Danny Burnstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo The Color Purple
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton
Jessie Muller, Waitress

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Choreography
Shuffle Along
Fiddler on the Roof
Dames at Sea
On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan

Check out the nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards for plays:

Best Play
The Father
The Humans
King Charles III

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Noises Off

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed

Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge

The 69th Annual Tony Awards will be held on Sunday, June 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS

This article is a part of Hypable’s inaugural Broadway Week in celebration of the 2016 Tony nominations.