When I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was going to star in another large-scale movie, I thought it was worth looking into, but when he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor again, I knew I had to see it.
The Revenant tells the true story of mountain man Hugh Glass, who after a fur trapping expedition gone wrong, was attacked by a grizzly bear, and left for dead by his companions. The remainder of the movie tells the incredible story of his struggle to survive, his mission to find the man who killed his son, and his search for revenge.
The Revenant is a spectacle of acting, cinematography, and sheer scale. At one point in the film DiCaprio’s character is unable to speak, and DiCaprio delivers one of the most convincing performances I’ve ever seen, while expressing rage, anguish, and physical pain, all without saying a word. Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald, nominated for the Best Supporting Actor category, is another prime example of truly professional acting, throughout the film I would frequently forget that I had seen Hardy in other films and almost completely believed he was the selfish, wildly bigoted Fitzgerald.
The film’s cinematography, nominated for an Oscar, was done by two-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezski, known for his work on 2013’s Gravity, and 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Wirtue of Ignorance). For anyone familiar with Lubezki’s style, his work can be instantly recognized from the first five minutes of the film, as his continuous shots, or long takes, are omnipresent throughout, such as in the opening scene when the group of fur trappers are attacked by an Arikara Native American War Party. The continuous shot shows the Arikara attacking, while the trappers run for their lives. The entire scene lasts about a full five minutes without the camera stopping.
Frequently in the film, the camera will cut from DiCaprio or Hardy, among other actors, to a sweeping mountain range, or a sprawling valley, to give the audience a perspective of the enormity of the unexplored wilds of the modern Western United States. As the film progresses, and both Glass and Fitzgerald make their way out of the wild, the audience can understand the vastness of the wilderness they are crossing and can feel the same isolation that the characters do.
While The Revenant has many fantastic qualities, it isn’t a perfect movie. Several scenes in the film are meant to be “hard to watch” like DiCaprio’s Glass tending to his wounds that were shown with a little too much emphasis, and the various survival techniques he employs.
Despite a few flaws, The Revenant manages to be an exceptional film. With an R rating, viewers should be wary of graphic violence, disturbing images, and language throughout. However, those keen on seeing the film will not be disappointed.