While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains life-threatening injuries from a brutal bear attack. When a member (Tom Hardy) of his hunting team kills his young son (Forrest Goodluck) and leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back to civilization. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, the legendary fur trapper treks through the snowy terrain to track down the man who betrayed him. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Revenant, a noun, it means a person who returns; as a spirit after death, as a ghost. This is exactly what the film is about. The Revenant (2015) falls into the same category as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), by being a heart-pounding and terrific film. This is what you get when you take the skillful direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu and the stunning cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki fresh off of Birdman (2014), toss in the incredible acting skills of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and combine it all into one film. The Revenant has brutal action sequences that are emotional, gripping, and realistic, and to think that events like the ones depicted in this film actually happened.
The film is a western-epic inspired by the true-life experiences of frontiersman Hugh Glass, a legendary fur-trapper in the winter wilderness of 1820’s America. Although the story has been embellished over the years, the ‘facts’1 and the film’s story are pretty close. This is a revenge story more than anything but it also highlighted human perseverance and the will to survive. The things that happen to Glass are truly horrific and the fact that he survived it is astonishing. The action style is similar to Gladiator with its effects and artistically constructed dream sequences but the film is not without special effects which are the best part. The horrific and grueling bear attack is a seamless blend of realistic animal and CGI technology making the bear to be both beautiful one second and deadly the next. This film is a thrill ride of different emotions, whether it’s in awe of the beautiful landscapes or gasping in horror at the unrelenting violence.
The cinematography is beautiful, cold, visceral, and almost entirely authentic from the use of natural lighting and powerful storytelling. Lubezki has proven that he is one of the most fantastic cinematographers today, and his extensive use of natural lighting over artificial makes the film appear even more stunning. The single tracking shot during an intense battle scene made you feel like you were right there in the scene. There are many long and expansive shots without breaks sprinkled throughout the film that only adds to the stunning nature of the landscapes. Supporting the cinematography is the music score, by relatively unknown composers Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto is mesmerizing. However, unless it’s a musical, the music should largely stay within the background in order to set the mood but this was not the case for this film. It was great but at certain times it tried to overcompensate for the lack of dialogue through much of the film.
Another noteworthy aspect of the film is the actors. Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic; Wolf on Wall Street) has finally received the seemingly forever elusive Oscar with this superb and cripplingly painful performance. After the bear attack to his character, much of DiCaprio’s scenes throughout the film have very little dialogue but that in no way deters from a brilliant performance. It’s clear that not all of the suffering is fake considering the unfriendly conditions in which the film takes place. Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises; Legend) is also impressive as the antagonist. But he mumbles constantly and it seems as if most of his lines would have made more sense if they were said with his Bain mask. The supporting performances are great as well despite their little screen time. The most noteworthy being, Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina; Goodbye Christopher Robin) who is compelling with a degree of compassion and Will Poulter (The Maze Runner; We Are The Millers) who gets the chance to shine in a truly top dramatic film and he well and truly makes that grade.
Overall, The Revenant (2015) is a masterpiece of a film. This is not a feel-good film to sit through, this is cold, beautiful, visceral, and impressive with significant violence that not many viewers can sit through. This is a visual treat for those who appreciate great cinematography and I recommend that everyone see this at least once in their life. So I am not surprised that it received 3 Oscars for:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Best Achievement in Directing (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
Best Achievement in Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki)
as well as 3 Golden Globes for:
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Best Director - Motion Picture (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
"As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe... keep breathing."
- Hugh Glass
Worth Seeing: 10 of 10 stars
Worth Buying: 10 of 10 stars
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127 Hours (2010)
All is Lost (2014)
Cast Away (2000)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
The Edge (1997)
The Grey (2011)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Impossible (2012)
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Life of Pi (2012)
Last of the Dogmen (1995)
Man in the Wilderness (1971)
The Road (2009)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
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