One of the most anticipated releases of 2016 is definitely The Revenant by the Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu starring Leonardo DiCaprio in its leading role. The latter won a Golden Globe last week for Best Actor. The former won 2 awards, namely Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director. The Revenant is based on a novel by Michael Punke, which is based on true events. You might also know Iñárritu from other feature films like Babel (2006), Biutiful(2010), and Birdman (2014).
The Revenant tells the story of American frontiersmen on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s. When Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) gets mauled by a bear, he is left for dead by some of his hunting companions. From then onwards he is on his own in a journey through wilderness relying on his knowledge of nature and the language of the Indians. The story is mainly one about fellowship, revenge, love and most of all survival. You can easily put The Revenant in the same line as the biographical dramas Into The Wild (Sean Penn, 2007) or 127 Hours (Danny Boyle, 2010).
Next to DiCaprio the film also stars Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) as the treacherous Fitzgerald, who is an opportunist liar and the Irish Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows Part II) as the reliable captain of the team. Fresh young talent is Forrest Goodluck, who plays Glass’s half-blood Indian son Hawk. The Revenant is Goodluck’s first feature film, in which he proves his ability to show authentic emotions and speak several languages (English and Caddoan). Rumours had it that part of the cast suffered from hypothermia during the shooting. In fact, the back to the roots atmosphere of the film shows us what it is to be cold and indirectly makes us shiver as we watch. I could almost feel the ice-cold wind on my back.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Sleepy Hollow) shows us the beauty of nature and in the same time its power to destroy. The film is shot partly in Canada and Argentina, to assure snowy landscapes. Lubezki catches every glaring sunbeam in the most aesthetic way. A viewer cannot be anything but moved by the peacefulness these images show in contrast to the roughness and pain these men experience.
Although The Revenant is about survival-of-the-fittest in the most primitive way, some scenes may be disturbing, due to the violence and explicit skinning and eating of animals. None of them really got spared, so when you are a fundamental vegetarian or vegan, please don’t watch the 156 minutes long The Revenant, because some shots might be repelling. Iñárritu opted for the most naturalist way of representing reality. DiCaprio goes full-on in his performance, grunting, groaning, killing and guts-eating, and therefore won his award at the Golden Globes. Once again he proves himself to be an multi-talented actor on his way to an Oscar (-pretty please!)