Wednesday, February 03, 2016



From IMDB:


After an attack that occurred in a fur trappers bivouac, across a river, in American wilderness, Hugh Glass (an American experienced frontiersman who knows the territory well), his son, and his remaining companions, are going back to the nearest outpost. A near fatal bear attack, happens to Glass. Glass's weak condition, forced some men from the team, to be his caretakers. One of the caretakers, John Fitzgerald, chooses to betray Glass, and makes an unforgivable decision. Relying on his insurmountable anger, a powerful motivation for his family, and also his passion to live, Hugh survives. In this comeback adventure, Glass goes along the wintry terrain, across the wilderness, and uses his survival skills to go back to the outpost. Glass attemps to find John Fitzgerald, and make him pay for his terrible decision. 

The Revenant (2015) on IMDb8.3/10187,871
76 MetascoreFrom
Reviews 754 user | 401 critic

From Rotten Tomatoes:


Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. THE REVENANT is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award (R) winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel). (C) Fox

Rating: R (for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity)
Runtime: 2 hr. 36 min.
20th Century Fox - Official Site

Average Rating: 8/10 | Reviews Counted: 271
Fresh: 225 | Rotten: 46
Critics Consensus: As starkly beautiful as it is harshly uncompromising, The Revenant uses Leonardo DiCaprio's committed performance as fuel for an absorbing drama that offers punishing challenges -- and rich rewards.
AUDIENCE SCORE 86% liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5 | User Ratings: 69,701


This is Hugh Glass. He lives a hard life but it's about to get worse. ©20th Century Fox

A film that is brutal in so many ways and so many levels... 

So this film is loosely based of a book by Micheal Punke titled The Revenant which was about a man named Hugh Glass. The book for the most part is Micheal Punke's attempt at cobbling together a story about the life of Hugh Glass from a variety of sources both factual and legendary. The film written by Mark L. Smith and the film's director Alejandro González Iñárritu takes elements from that book mixes it up with a little creative license to create a story that works in the visual form. 

Let's go into the story of Hugh Glass a little or what is known of him. Born around 1783 in Pennsylvania, to Scots-Irish parents who had immigrated from Ulster in present day Northern Ireland he was an American frontiersman, fur trapper, fur trader, hunter, and explorer. He was an explorer of the watershed of the Upper Missouri River, in present-day Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Platte River area of Nebraska. The reason history knows of his existence is because of his story of survival and retribution, after being left for dead by companions, following his mauling by a grizzly bear. You can read more about him on the Wikipedia page for it here

What the real Mr Glass looks like. ©20th Century Fox

A lot of the book is I guess conjecture on Mr Punke's part based on the research done on Mr Glass but when it comes to the film the writers took it to whole other level. For example, there is little evidence that the real Mr Glass ever married a Native American woman or had a son from that marriage. Another is that the story of the grizzly bear attack actually happened during the summer and not in the dead of winter when grizzlies actually spend it hibernating. You can read more about what's fact and what's fiction in the movie at History vs Hollywood. I love that site. 

Anyway, to want this film to stay true to the actual story of Mr Glass's life would be impossible since little actual fact is known about the man. Even the tale of his bear attack surfaced well after the event and was written not by Mr Glass but by someone else. It is what it is, an amazing legend and a story of a man beating incredible odds in order to survive a wilderness that was little known and explored. It's the stuff of legends and that's what makes it a good story. 

As if doing it the summertime wasn't going to be hard enough they do it the dead of winter. ©20th Century Fox

The production of the film itself is an interesting one. The book published in 2002 was actually picked up to be turned into a movie in 2001 by producer, director and writer Akiva Goldsman and names like Samuel L. Jackson and Sean Penn were linked to the film as the leads before director Alejandro González Iñárritu settled on Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass and Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald. The other fascinating fact for me was that this film was supposed to come before Iñárritu's Oscar winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) which won for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Cinematography. I saw that film and it was amazing. It's one of those films which will be analyzed again and again and be used in film schools especially for its cinematography which was by Emmanuel Lubezki

The Revenant is nominated for 12 Oscar's this year and among them are the same awards that Iñárritu's last film won for in addition to Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Hardy) as well as in other technical categories. Leonardo has won best actor for his role in The Revenant at the Golden Globes and at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. So if he doesn't win at the Oscars quite a few people will be surprised. 

The reason for him to not just give up and die. The reason for his incredible trek across the wilderness. ©20th Century Fox

So was it worth all the nominations and awards? 

Well, yes. This was an amazing film on so many levels. This films been out for a while now and there are reviews aplenty for it and although I avoided all of it I'm guessing if I read them now I'd agree with most of them and all I'd be doing is repeating what was said by them in my own review. 

So I'm not going to write all that much about it. I'm just going to list down what I liked about it.

1) The story. Although many creative liberties were taken it was taken in order to tell a good story.

2) The acting. Both the leads did an incredible job. Leonardo's is amazing. In most of his other films it was more like watching different variations of Leonardo but in this one he truly became Hugh Glass. Tom Hardy was equally amazing to the point that you couldn't recognize Tom Hardy.

3) The cinematography. Visually amazing. Every shot looked like a National Geographic documentary made for IMAX. Each scene a story in itself and helped push the emotion, the drama in the scene. And when it wasn't on the wilderness but on the actors it was as if you were there, a spirit walking with Mr Glass through his ordeal. It was unlike any other I've seen.

4) The editing. There were many wide panoramic shots that lingered but it never felt too long or too draggy.

5) The soundtrack/score which at times was nothing more than Native American chanting or someone speaking in a Native American language and at times nothing more than the breathing of Mr Glass was perfect.

6) The visual effects. This film garnered quite a buzz when word got out that Iñárritu was not going to use much of it preferring instead to shoot it entire on location and also using only available light. What he achieved with the help of Lubezki was nothing short of amazing. For this reason alone I'm guessing a lot of film schools will be referring to this film in lessons.

The man he hunts. ©20th Century Fox

The Revenant is a brutal and violent film from start to finish. At its core it is basically a revenge film. A man survives a near death experience to exact revenge on the man who he believes has wronged him. This trope has been done time and again in action movies and in dramas. Many use extremely graphic visuals to emphasise how determined, how badly the films protagonist wants his foe to suffer and how nothing will stop him from getting to his target but I don't think any of them match up to the violence and brutality in this film. It is not more graphic than the other films but there's a quality here that makes it more brutal, more violent. And the violence isn't just in the scenes where Glass finally has his showdown with Fitzgerald but it is in every scene. The harshness of the wilderness and the season, Glass's ordeals they all just seem to ooze with difficulty, brutality, harshness. I don't think any film set in the wilderness of America has been able to capture how harsh it can truly be like this film has.

I truly loved this film. I loved Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and I love The Revenant equally but in a completely different way and on a different level. Both were incredible feats of storytelling in terms of its story and how it visually unfolds, although Birdman is probably far more original than The Revenant. But The Revenant takes a common trope and elevates it to a whole other level. 

The only lighthearted moment in the entire film. Catching snow on their tongue. ©20th Century Fox

I'm going to agree with all the reviews and ratings others have given and give it a 4.8 out of 5. It's an amazing film on so many levels. If you don't watch this you're missing something incredibly special. Something that doesn't come about all that often. I'm very much looking forward to Mr Alejandro González Iñárritu's next film.

Here's the trailer.


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    nice post for movie reviews. nice blog!