The Revenant: A Visually Stunning Epic.
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A hyperbolic cautionary tale about the terrible consequences of violating nature and its indigenous peoples, The Revenant is cinema at its highest epic level. It’s everything Tarantino once managed to do, but, sadly, doesn’t seem to be able to anymore. Now the torch has been passed on to Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who’s done a great job. The screenplay by Mark L. Smith is partially based on Michael Punke's novel of the same title.
Despite the simplicity of the story, and even the obviousness of its allegories and metaphors, The Revenant is a fine movie, since its values ring true, sentimentalism is avoided and the visuals are unforgettable.
You have never seen Cowboys and Indians fight like this before. The first 15 fifteen minutes of the movie will make you feel like you are right in the middle of a fierce battle. Don’t pick sides, run for your life, as, unlike more traditional westerns, Indians here are as powerful and threatening as White Men. You may get blown to pieces by a rifle, if you are a native American, or have an arrow shot right into your mouth coming out of the back of your neck, if you are a cowboy!
Have you ever wondered what a protective mother bear would do to a human being who seems like a threat to her cubs? The movie will show you the answer. And it’s ugly, scary and fascinating. The grizzly bear attack on the bewildered pelt hunter Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) – whose acting skills seem to enhance when he keeps his mouth shut (we hardly hear him in The Revenant, which is an added blessing to the movie) - alone pays for the ticket.
The story couldn’t be simpler: in the first decades of the 19th century, white men working for a skin trading company roam the desolation of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase, hunting for pelts. If native peoples cross their way, they will not be treated nicely. After being attacked by a bear, and have had his half-Indian son slyly murdered by his company peer John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Hugh Glass is mischievously half buried and left behind, as nobody thinks he will survive and it would be a burden to carried him back. From then on, the movie focuses on Glass’s slow recovery and the difficulties he faces on his long journey back to the company outpost to avenge his son’s murder. Some scenes will probably remind the viewer of Jack London’s Call of the Wild as you watch Glass regressing back to ancestral behavior, catching fish with his bare hands and eating them raw, or directly applying fire to his wounds to rush the healing process.
The movie images are stunning. North America has never looked so beautiful, haunting and wild in the desolation of its snow-covered prairies, coiling and cascading rivers, ghost-ridden forests, and mountains. The wilderness of the land is reflected in the savagery and violence of its people, be it native Americans, Americans or French.
The bear fight is nicely mirrored at the end of the movie when Hugh Glass confronts his nemesis, John Fitzgerald, who killed his son and left him to die while he was healing from the bear-inflicted wounds.
The story’s message of the need for a closer bond between humans and nature is encapsulated in yet another of the movie’s many iconic scenes: chased by Arikara Native Americans, Glass rides off a ravine, killing his horse in the fall. It’s night and snowy. The cold is glacial. Glass cuts the animal open, disembowels it, and, stark naked, steps inside the carcass to protect himself against the weather outside. He’s home.
The Revenant has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy), Best Actor (Leo DiCaprio), Best Director (A. G. Iñárritu) and Best Picture. The ceremony will take place on February 28th.