The Revenant is a western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and tells the story of frontier scout Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who was viciously mauled by a Grizzly Bear and left for dead by his fellow men.
Under the command of Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) on a fur trapping expedition; Glass and his half Native-American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) are apart of a group of men which include the self-interested John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and a teenage boy named Bridger (Will Poulter). As Glass and Hawk are hunting in the woods, Arikara warriors ambushed their camp and killed many men. It is revealed that they are looking for a women of their tribe that was taken from them.
In an effort to lose the Arikara, which the men refer to as “Ree”, they abandon their boat and move through the woods. Taking this route leads Glass to the path of a Grizzly Bear that savagely mauls him, and drags him all across ground. After his crew find him they try to carry him for as long as they can but decide it’s best to have three men stay behind, Hawk, Bridger and Fitzgerald, and await Glass’s death so he can have a proper burial. Through miscommunication, Fitzgerald kills Hawk, and fleas with Bridger as Glass watches helplessly. Thus leading to “The Revenant” which means a person who has returned. In Glass’s case, he went through hell and back to make it to camp to find the man that murdered his son.
One could make an argument that, this brief introduction tells the whole entire story, or that the trailer summarizes the film to the point where you don’t need to watch the whole 2 hours and 36 minute. Although I think this is entirely untrue. A massive aspect of this film is experiencing the things Glass does to make it across the frontier. In real life, Hugh Glass crawled and fought his way across 200 miles. Though this film is loosely based off his real experience and more so of the book adaption of it from Michael Punke, which is also called The Revenant. By having us go along for the journey for a majority of the film was completely different from what a conventional Hollywood film would have done. That being taking off 36mins of the film, so they can get to the final face off. Hats off to Iñárritu for being daring enough to show the movie his way. Though I must admit I can fully understand why somebody can feel like it was repetitive because they did have the same musical note hit, and showing, day time, and nightfall while he was traveling across the land, but there was enough encounters in-between that should be enough due to have intense they all were. Oh also because it did feel like a Terrence Malick film in some moments, but Before I forget the bear attack was absolutely terrifying. It was so sudden and the bear seemed like a real animal concerned about it’s surroundings rather than being some evil monster destined to taking out our hero.
By having these extremely gorgeous locations they were able to take full advantage of showing the extreme climate and harsh conditions that Glass has to make it though; all while bearing these gruesome wounds from the grizzly bear. A moment that stood out and was really telling for Iñárritu & cinematographer Lubezki wanting to make the audience feel like you are completely immersed is when Glass is laying on the body of his son. His exhausted breath literally fogs up the lens of the camera multiple times, as if seeing the frostbite on his face wasn’t real enough. It was highly effective in getting across how cold it really was, and the fogged up lens moved to a heavenly-esque scene in the clouds with a glimpse of the sun, and finished this motif with smoke coming out of Fitzgerald’s pipe.
The cinematography in the entire film is poetic and you can see the passion that was put into it. From the breathtaking landscape shots, to the close up shots of the facial features of different people. The decision to shoot digitally allowed them to have all these details free of grain, and furthermore allowed them to shoot the entire film with all natural lighting which, I don’t even know if that’s been done before in an environment like this, it is truly magical and that’s what filmmaking is all about.
Much is to be said about Leonardo’s performance and rightfully so. He carried this film, with little dialogue and going through all these harsh climates, even to the point where he ate raw bison liver, and the man is vegetarian. He brought a level of intensity that can be seen in glimpses through many of his films, but to carry this out for a majority of a whole film was something everyone has been waiting for and we finally received it here. While his motivations were driven by vengeance, the story focused more so on the road he had to take and the encounters he came across. That’s what allowed for the audience to become emotionally invested into seeing him overcome the journey and to hope he exacts his revenge on Fitzgerald. The score that accompanied the film brought a huge level of melancholy that fit perfectly with the imagery and tone of the film.
Although with all the praise Leo is receiving, I don’t think he will win his first Oscar, I hope I am wrong. Just like with Chiwetel Ejiofor who gave an incredible passive performance that required him to evoke so much emotion through sheer acting, and not so much dialogue, he lost out to Matthew Mcconaughey who’s character required him yes to show pain and suffering but a lot of yelling in a movie i’m sure not a lot of people remember. I mean that’s very debatable but I think the same thing will happen to Leo unfortunately, mainly because the Academy just doesn’t seem to fancy Leo?
Apart from Leonardo, Tom Hardy gave a fantastic performance as well, he had to play such an unlikable character and he knocked it out the park. Hardy even blessed us with one of his better accent interpretations ha ha. I was actually quite disappointed with Domhnall Glesson here, i’m not sure if it was the character he had to be, but when he raised his voice to show anger it almost felt like a lion cub wanting to be full grown lion. This is evident if if you saw the speech he gave in Star Wars The Force Awakens, he was terrifying, and I thought he’d bring that here, but asides from that he did well.
This film is not for everyone though, due to the long stretches of time where it feels like not much is going on, or how unrelenting the film is on all fronts of emotion, visuals, and gore. It’s quite an artistic film, so it makes s complete sense, but when you have an actor like Leonardo DiCaprio completely on top of his game, it’s hard to not love it. The Revenant will be a film that I won’t forget because as movies should it takes you to a magical world and this particular movie captured locations never before seen in movie, so I thank you Iñárritu and everyone involved with this beautiful film.
My Rating: ★★★★★/★★★★★
Dir: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
IMDb 8.3/10 – Rotten Tomatoes 81%
Won Golden Globe Best Director
Nominated Golden Globe – Film, Actor, Score
” I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already.”