“The Revenant” stars Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that, at first glance, may finally earn him that coveted Oscar. The film was directed by Academy Award winning director of “Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñàrritu. It tells a tale of a fur trapper-navigator who was left for dead by his company and was instilled with the spirit of revenge so much that he was able to rise out of the grave, quite literally, and fight for survival.
The story is based on a book by Michael Punke about trapper and navigator Hugh Glass’ redemption in the Appalachian wilderness. The movie stars DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poultier and Domhnall Gleeson. Glass is the head navigator for a fur company that is attacked and massacred by a Native American tribe searching for their chief’s daughter. In an attempt to find a new, quick path away from the natives, Glass moves alone through the forest and is attacked and mauled by a grizzly bear.
The captain of the company, played by Gleeson, is a merciful type, and he tries to carry Glass with them until he is forced to offer bonuses to anyone willing to stay with him until he passes and is buried right. Fitzgerald, played by Hardy, is a selfish roughneck who thinks letting Glass survive with winter approaching is a mistake, but he decides to stay with him to make an extra buck.
The movie is beyond impressive. From the opening moments it is obvious the cinematography and film quality is of a high caliber, as this was the first completed feature film to use the new 6.5k ARRI 65 camera. Several dreamlike sequences appear to Glass as he lingers on the edge of death, and they are presented as visual poetry, with unrealistic moments appearing among a collection of Glass’ memories.
Cinematography has always been critical to Iñàrritu’s movies, and this movie is packed full of amazing shots—wide angle views of the surviving company climbing snow-covered mountains, shots of the tree canopy at different times of day and obviously the extended take during the epic bear fight scene. Good shooting, however, doesn’t make a successful movie, but when you couple a powerful story about the triumph of human will with unprecedented performances from both DiCaprio and Hardy you make something very special.
Iñàrritu knew that “The Revenant” was going to be a cinematic treasure, and with three Golden Globe wins and what looks to be a prosperous award season in the future—I think it will end up being just that.