|Fig 1 - The Revenant (2016)|
Alejandro González Iñárritu, producer of such films as Birdman (2014) and 21 Grams (2003), directs a stunning portrayal of the trials and tribulations of a group of frontiersmen traversing the untarnished Americas of the 1820s. When Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is left for dead after a brutal bear attack, his sole purpose for survival is to enact revenge on those who abandoned him. With strong central performances from DiCaprio and acting force-of-nature Tom Hardy, the audience is taken on an epic journey driven by themes of loss, paternity and revenge. Rising stars Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter also deliver memorable supporting roles in their underlying pursuit of land ownership against the Native Americans.
Having seen the trailer, I was surprised at how little information we are actually given in the dialogue-free snippets on offer, which perfectly reflect the emotional turmoil demonstrated by its leads. As convincing and gritty as the dialogue becomes, the film relies equally on the physical limitations of the body and doesn't shy away from bluntly representing them on screen. DiCaprio has proven his ability to demonstrate the loss of, and longing for, past infatuations in roles such as Shutter Island (2010) and Inception (2010), which have clearly reflected the casting choice in this instance. As no connoisseur of this particular genre, I can most closely equate its portrayal of man-against-nature
to Joe Carnaham's The Grey (2011) mixed with the vengeful energy of The Bride in Tarantino's Kill Bill (2003). Saying that, understandably, there are few chuckles to be had here, though the few teaspoons of hope we are fed feel like a feast in comparison to the consistently bleak events on-screen.
However, having had time to fully digest and reflect upon The Revenant, I can safely say it is unlike any other screenplay I have seen brought to life in recent memory. With exceptionally well-executed cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki, whose past works included Gravity (2013) and Children of Men (2006), the audience will find themselves engrossed in immersion from the deepest jungles to the most desolate mountain peaks. In an interview with Deadline earlier this year, director Iñárritu spoke about shooting on location, saying,"We are shooting in such remote far-away locations that, by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40% of the day. But those locations are so gorgeous and so powerful, they look like they have never been touched by a human being, and that’s what I needed." (Iñárritu, 2015)
Ultimately, the film doesn't feel like an Oscar-grab in its content-rich characters (which is refreshing to see from a film starring you-know-who) and feels completely legitimate in its approach to the suffering of the Americans and Natives alike. With some genuinely jaw-dropping moments and an edge-of-your-seat intensity throughout, The Revenant is clearly set to become an instant classic which will stay with you long after leaving the theater.
Fig 1. The Revenant Poster (2015) From: The Revenant - Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
González Iñárritu, A. (2015) The Revenant & Birdman Interview