A revenant is a visible ghost or an animated corpse that has returned from the grave to terrorize the living. The Revenant is thus an apt title for a film where Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) just keeps on living and moving towards revenge on John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) who has left him for dead and killed his only son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). I knew all this from trailers I saw prior to going to the movie. I anticipated a violent film, but it was nominated for a staggering 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor.
I saw it just before the Oscars and was glad I did. It brought Leo his first Academy Award for Best Actor, Best Director for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Best Achievement in Cinematography.
This film is one that will keep you alert for the entire two hours and 36 minutes it’s on the screen. Not once did I think about the time that had elapsed or had yet to pass. This drama is rated R for strong frontier combat and violence, including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.
The time period is the 1820’s and the setting is the northern regions of mountains, with freezing temperatures and danger at every turn, from nature and from humans, the French, the white Americans, the Native Americans. What we go to see as tourists today, the mountain vistas, rivers and waterfalls, and the vast expanse of sky, was a forbidding environment that frontiersmen and women and tribal people had to survive back then.
It is an incredible film to watch. It has made me deathly afraid to hike in any area where there are bears. The suffering Hugh Glass goes through when the mama bear attacks him is depicted in excruciating detail. They must have researched what grizzly bears do when they attack a human, as it was surprising to me and had me squirming and vocalizing at the long incident just as much as the rest of the audience was.
21 Grams, and Amores Perros, are two other films directed by Inarritu I have seen. Both are riveting tales, and hard to watch at times, as he really goes for the jugular, sparing no gruesome details. Birdman, Inarritu’s other award winning film, is an excellent film too.
According to IMDb, there were 16 filming locations, most in Canada and some in Argentina, Mexico, and a few in the United States. Leonardo gave a great acceptance speech at the Oscars, asking for us to pay attention to global warming and do something before more damage is done to the planet. They had to travel to the ends of the earth just to get the amount of snow they needed for filming.
The Revenant is still playing in Albuquerque theaters, and may still be in your community. If it is and you’d like to see it, I’d recommend going to the theater. The landscape you’ll be seeing is best viewed on the big screen.