The Revenant: Intensity Cranked Up to Eleven


This Revenant is like licking a 9-volt battery. It’s not painful, per say, but it’s not pleasant. It’s an odd experience. Weirdly alluring though it produces a curious feeling.

On the one hand, The Revenant is an entertaining movie. It’s stunning visually. The acting is superb. The effects are engrossing. Still, I don’t know that I would say it was particularly good as a narrative. I write that because this is a brutal movie that doesn’t let up. It’s supposed to show Hugh Glass’s superhuman will to survive in the face of death. Again. And again. And again. And again. And again… Glass is pure triumph. The epitome of the American Spirit. And in that respect The Revenant does the job it set out to do perfectly.

On the other hand, at the end of the movie you need several hours of puppy therapy. I was mentally and emotionally drained when I left the theater.

And then it hit me. It’s “inspired by true events.”

More often than not when a movie presents the “based on true events” line I ignore it for the marketing gimmick that it is. What exactly is the real/true/factual part and what is artistic license for narrative interest and entertainment value? But because this movie is so unforgiving, I had to look up the real Hugh Glass (read: checked the “facts” via Wikipedia). And while The Revenant does take some liberties, Glass was a bad-ass of epic proportions.

But it’s not long before that awe wears off. Okay. So Hugh Glass was pure man. That’s great. What’s for lunch?

And then the next wave hit me. Even though it was all pretend, those were some incredibly harsh filming conditions.

While the actors where never actually being hunted by savages, mauled by wild animals, tossed about on freezing rapids, etc., they were actually out in the elements. The remote locations. The freezing cold. Eating raw bison liver. All of that was real. And knowing how Leonardo DiCaprio strives for realism when he’s working, all of what he and the rest of the cast and crew endured to make The Revenant is awe inspiring. That verisimilitude absolutely showed through.

And then The Revenant hits me one final time. It is truly a merciless film.

Note: I am not suggesting this is the intention of the filmmaker, it’s just an observation that struck me as I was thinking about the movie. The Revenant is a metaphor for Leonardo’s fight for an Oscar. That man, like Glass, has been through some shit and still keeps going. I don’t know who he’s pissed off to be passed over so many times, but I can only hope that this, finally, will be his time.

The Revenant is definitely a movie to see on the big screen. Just have a heaping helping of sunshine and good happiness stuff ready to go when you’re through.

Tagline: (n. One who has returned, as if from the dead.)

Year: 2015                   Runtime: 156 min

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Writer: Mark L. Smith (screenplay), Alejandro González Iñárritu (screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter


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