It’s hard to go into a film with no opinion when the film gets a lot of hype or talk. And that’s exactly what has happened with Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film, The Revenant.
The film has not only had a great deal of hype because of its grand scale. The film had a lot of discussion regarding the content and the set backs they constantly had for numerous reasons. But the biggest part is that The Revenant could very well be the role that wins DiCaprio his Oscar.
The trailer tells a slightly different story for what the entire film is about. And this could set a few people back. But what you find after not very long into the film is it’s nothing what you will expect.
The film is set in 1823 and follows the true story of explorer Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) as he and other hunters and trackers search for animal furs throughout Montana and South Dakota.
The search is challenged by Native American Indians to the area and spark battles with the hunting party. This is what the trailer for the film sells you, a battle with Native Indians.
The film changes tact when Glass’s luck changes and he is mauled by a bear and left for dead by his hunting party aside from his son, and two of the party who are paid handsomely to care for him.
The film then follows Glass’s epic journey to recovery and for revenge. And this is the part you don’t get sold through the trailer. And it’s actually quite clever. What happens is you expect a battle film. But what you walk away with is a brilliantly told story not only about the battles, but about one man’s fight to avenge his loved ones.
There is something about this film that has a very raw and real feeling to it. The actors look like they have been carrying these massive pelts for weeks on end, living in the most basic of basic conditions as well as being on edge from possible attacks from natives.
But what makes The Revenant truly spectacular is the settings. Mostly of which was filmed in the snowy landscapes of Alberta Canada. The filming even headed to Argentina for some epic landscapes. You find yourself watching someone sit on the side of a mountain and noticing everything in the background. The stunning snow covered hills and mountains, the aggressive running rivers and the lush forest as they trek through.
Though these landscapes aren’t that of a set and you can tell the difference from a set to that of a harsh rugged forest. It becomes another character that you start to connect with. It’s unforgiving and relentless, yet without it there is no hope for survival. You come to understand and appreciate its purpose.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu made some tough choices going to tough locations rather than the man-made set. And it could have cost him the film. Iñárritu said in an interview with Deadline:
“I’ve gotten myself into trouble again, but I’m trying my best.
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. The light is very reduced here in winter, and we are not shooting with any electrical lighting, just natural light. And every single scene is so difficult — emotionally, technically”.
Alejandro González Iñárritu is best known for his Directorial work on Birdman which won a whole bag of awards back in the 2014 award season. He also directed Babel, 21 Grams and Biutiful ontop of many other projects he produced.
And if you remember from Iñárritu’s Birdman, most shots were continuous shots. This kept you locked with the actor and it had a more realistic feel than something that has a great deal of different camera angles which starts to take you away from the true emotion of the scene.
While Iñárritu didn’t stick to the continuous shot as much as Birdman, the pivitol scenes didn’t break your emotional link with many shots. At one point the camera is covered in snow and blood that you actually start to believe what you are seeing is not longer a film and you are actually far closer to the story that your cinema seat.
While Iñárritu works and weaves his skills to bring this epic tale to the big screen, it wouldn’t have been possible without the talent and skills of the actors. And this is where Leonardo DiCaprio shines.
This isn’t like any other role that he has played before. He isn’t an excentric, slightly crazy, love struck character. For the most part of The Revenant, DiCaprio can’t speak nor move. And this is where you truly understand how magnificent of an actor DiCaprio is. He has to use his face and body to show his emtion. He can no longer hide behind the use of his voice and the perfect delivery of his lines.
DiCaprio manages to truly capture what pain looks and feels like. You sit there wathcing the DiCaprio in emence pain not able to talk or move. And you start to think why he is up for a nomination because surly he is about to die. His performance is so believable you actually feel his pain.
This is the film DiCaprio really puts himself into. And god only knows what he would have done to prepare to be attacked by a bear. DiCaprio spoke with Yahoo Movies about filming the scenes of the bear attack:
“[Those scenes] — amongst many other sequences — were some of the more difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my entire career”.
This film easily puts DiCaprio up for Oscar contender without a doubt, but will it be his time.
The sound of the film is also something that plays into your emotions when you watch it. The score doesn’t take away from the visual spectacle it only adds to it, so much so that you never notice it. The cleverest addition is the breathing of Glass throughout the film. You are always listening to the breathing of Glass right to the very last scene.
The Revenant is truly a film to see this year. It is epic, it is brutal, it is wonderful and it is amazing all at the same time.
There is neither a detail spared nor an emotion skipped when you watch this film. And don’t let the trailer give you any idea what the film is like, because it is not what it’s all about.
And even with the years it took to get the film off the ground, the numerous people quitting and constant set backs. If you are to see one film this summer, this is the one.
Review by Jay Cook