Back to the Western: The Revenant by Iñárritu
Currently, The Revenant by Alejandro González Iñárritu has won three Golden Globes and received several nominations for the 2016 Oscar Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor. But let's take a closer look at the story.
aCurrently, The Revenant by Alejandro González Iñárritu has won three Golden Globes and received several nominations for the 2016 Oscar Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor. But let’s take a closer look at the story.
In 1823, a group of fur trappers are on a hunting expedition along the river Missouri. One of them, Hugh Glass (Leonardo Di Caprio), is attacked by a grizzly bear and left behind by another trapper, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who was supposed to look after him.
But Glass survives and seeks revenge.
The audience immediately relates to Glass’s fight for survival – a fight with few words. Leonardo Di Caprio has very few lines as he faces this lonely struggle. Instead, his sorrow and his inner strength is expressed by his acting, particularly through his skilled use of body language.
He is so badly injured that he cannot walk, so he crawls. The camera follows him, and in doing so, creating breath-taking sequences that are able to produce an emotional engagement with the audience through images.
Many themes are explored, such as Glass’s regression to an animalistic state in order to survive in the wild. It can be read as intentional irony, when the hunter becomes the hunted.
Iñárritu also finds alternative paths for his narration. Dreams are the true unknown and unexplored land and contain the power of redemption. Through them, Glass finds guidance by his late wife, a Native-American girl.
The Revenant was shot in Canada and in Tierra del Fuego. The troupe and cast had to endure awful climates and extreme conditions since Iñárritu did not want to use a green screen. Of course, by using a green screen he could have saved a lot of money (the film’s expenditure was $135 million), but, as Iñárritu said, “if we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit” (The Guardian).
The result of this choice is outstanding cinematography by Emmanuel Chino Zubezki, who shot only in natural light. The landscape communicates with the audience, merging the scenes together and providing the film with a vibrant rhythm.
Nature holds a predominant role in the film, where it becomes far more than just a setting. Glass establishes a connection with it through his near-death experience as well as throughout his journey. If it isn’t the bear’s fur that keeps him warm, it’s the horse’s body, so there is always a purpose behind a life that is taken.
It is not like that among men. Natives and “Americans” kill each other in a frantic chase that has already lost its meaning.
Writers: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck