Film Review: The Revenant
In 2015, Alejandro G. Iñárritu released The Revenant, based in part on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Isaiah Tootoosis, Arthur RedCloud, Grace Dove, Paul Anderson, Brendan Fletcher, Kristoffer Jones, Melaw Nakehk’o, Duane Howard, Brad Carter, Lukas Haas, and Tyson Wood, the film has grossed $160.5 million at the box office as of January 21, 2016. Nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Original Score, winning the awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director and Best Actor – Drama, the film was also nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design.
In the early 1820s, a fur trapping expedition is nearing the end of its operation when they are attacked by Ree. They escape with barely any of the trappers left alive and their frontiersman and guide, Hugh Glass, decides to abandon the boat and travel by land. However, Glass is mauled by a bear and is left behind with his son and two members of the party for a proper burial, including John Fitzgerald who believes it’s too dangerous to wait for Glass to die.
Using nothing but natural light, The Revenant is a great film, especially in how it shows the power of a parent’s love. It seems that all the conflict in the film stems from it as well. For one, the event that really sets off the film’s main plot happens because Glass just happened to get in the middle of a mother bear and her cubs. Further, Glass’ whole motivation throughout the film is due to how he loved his son and wants to get Fitzgerald for what he did and he also continues to remind himself of how much he loved Hawk by carving “Fitzgerald killed my son” wherever he goes. What’s more is the entire reason the Ree attack throughout the film is because the chief is fueled by love for his daughter and a desire to rescue her.
Speaking of the film’s Native Americans, they are given a wonderful depiction in the film and not portrayed as bloodthirsty savages or the magical sidekicks meant to help the main character along their journey. Rather, the film shows them realistically. As stated above, the reason they’re attacking all the white men is because they’re not sure who has the chief’s daughter and are blinded by rage and the quest to get her back. There’s also the Pawnee who Glass comes across. It shows him as knowing how to help Glass survive the oncoming snowstorm and recover from his wounds. Yet, it also gives him some surprising characterization with the character barely speaking at all. The film shows him as having the same sense of wonder and enjoyment as Glass does when it comes to the falling snow with both of them trying to catch a snowflake on their tongues.
Said character showing wonder and enjoyment at the snow is just one instance of great acting within the film. DiCaprio and Hardy give some wonderful performances in the film, making their Academy Award nominations well deserved. The former really puts some great emotion into the character and the audience can really feel just how Glass feels during his whole quest for revenge against Fitzgerald. There’s also the ending, when Glass has finally realized that his quest for revenge and killing Fitzgerald won’t bring Hawk back along with remembering how the Pawnee told him that revenge is for the Creator. DiCaprio looks into the camera and put so much emotion into that thousand yard stare that he’s able to make the audience just a bit uncomfortable and wonder, possibly along with Glass, just what he does now, alone and wounded on that mountain.
Hardy also puts a lot into the character of Fitzgerald and gives a great portrayal of someone who is just plain sociopathic. When the Ree attack, his main concern isn’t on aiding any of the other trappers, all he cares about is preserving the pelts. Further, the only reason Fitzgerald decides to stay with Hawk and Bridger to watch over Glass is because he’s promised a reward and when left alone with the man, Fitzgerald tries to convince Glass that it would be better for the party to carry out a mercy killing. Fitzgerald also wonderfully shows sociopathic cowardice when Captain Henry finds out that Glass is still alive by trying to flee instead of facing justice.
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