Realism. Movies are a representation of the human condition as well as a reflection of society. A movie that doesn’t create a world that is believable cannot get an audience to relate or feel for the film. Understanding this, filmmaking God, Alejandro G. Inarritu decided to make “The Revenant” as real as possible. Shooting the film in chronological order is a good example. I personally hate seeing an actor say lines in a beginning scene when you can totally tell he’s already acted out his death for a later scene. because the film was acted chronologically, the crew had to keep up with the traveling of the actors. The opening scene where all of the fur trappers have to jump on the boat, is actually being repeated offscreen by the crew, only they have to grab equipment instead of furs. Like the characters, they unfortunately had to leave most of it behind, as a result the rest of the film doesn’t use lights or a tripod, and most of the sound has been digitally replaced.
Oscar hunting. Some actors need validation for their work in a form other than critical praise, money, or celebrity. These actors look for the highest honor in their field and strive for that award. Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Basketball Diaries”, “The Beach”) is one of those people. In past years, his attempts for an Oscar have been unsuccessful, losing to actors such as Forest Whitaker and Jamie Foxx. Luckily for Leo this year, the Academy didn’t nominate any black actors. In the “Revenant,” DiCaprio manages to capture the audience’s hearts, or perhaps their sympathy, hmm… I don’t know actually, you’d think a mountain man wouldn’t just stumble upon bears. Anyway, after being viciously attacked, we really feel sick from the gore, I mean we feel bad for Leo. You know, I’m not really sure who DiCaprio’s character is. It seems to me that there’s a lot of scenes making us feel bad for him, but at a certain point I just looked into Leo’s eyes and saw a desperate man pleading for an Oscar. That may be the real performance.
The art of cinematography. While some may foolishly argue that “The Revenant” is a film about a guy in the woods who wants to kill another guy, the real film is about a man who wants to shoot a movie in the woods. That man is cinematography God, Emmanuel “Goat” Lubezki. In an effort to expand the capabilities of cinematography, Lubezki took the camera off the tripod, saved the lights, and went running through the middle of scenes. Proof that the film is all about Lubezki is when the camera lens fogs up, when water gets on it, or when blood gets on it. This really draws your attention to the camera and you remember how great a job this guy is doing. Perhaps the most impressive shot is one in which DiCaprio rides a horse off a cliff (spoilers: he survives, gets naked, climbs inside the dead horse, and points to his tattoo of an Oscar statue). In the shot as DiCaprio goes off the cliff, so does the camera. Did he zipline? Was he hang gliding? My money’s on him simply throwing the camera off the cliff and willing the shot to stay in focus and frame.
Gore. Many films claim to have gore and violence. But it’s always fancy effects or choreographed fighting. Additionally, the camera always cuts away at the grossest part just leaving you with sound. Great movie makers like Inarritu understand that an audience needs more. So his gore is real. Why has Tom Hardy kept his hands in his pockets on the red carpet? Because he’s missing several fingers. Why did DiCaprio make a face when Lady Gaga bumped him at the Golden Globes? His back was still healing from the bear attack. Why wasn’t Forrest Goodluck at any of the award shows, because he really died when he was killed in the movie. If you haven’t seen “The Revenant,” go see it for the amount of blood, guts, bone breaks, gunshot wounds, arrow wounds, skin tears, and neck wound cauterizations that are all shown on screen, never looking away (the camera never looks away at least, I think I only looked at the screen for half of the movie).
An exercise in brilliant craftsmanship, the film was hampered by the lack of relatable deep characters that would have allowed the audience to become emotionally invested in the main character’s success rather than simply sympathetic to his misfortune. I give it two popped corns.