This past week, I was able to drag my hubby to see two great films and, let me tell you that was no small feat. We saw The Hateful Eight and you can read my review here, and recently, we saw The Revenant. Although both stories take place in our country’s past, it was The Revenant that I was drawn to the most. What made The Revenant so remarkable? Find out after the jump.
The film is a 2015 American frontier story that takes place in 1823 and mirrors the experiences that early frontiersmen and early fur trappers encountered on their exploration west. This is a particular timeline that I’m interested in because as I’ve mentioned before, I worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
As the manager of the museum’s Changing Exhibit Hall I overlooked a multitude of traveling exhibits, one of the best being an exhibit about Lewis and Clark called “Across the Divide.” Every visitor who attended that exhibit learned what the wilderness offered for both the Native Americans who called it home and, the explorers who made a living hunting and collecting furs.
The Revenant is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and is based on the Michael Punke’s novel, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson. Although development originally had Park Chan-wook directing and Samuel L. Jackson as the lead, and later John Hillcoat with Christian Bale as the star; it was Inarritu who eventually took the project to completion with DiCaprio as the lead.
The film is set in beautiful Montana and South Dakota and we watch as a hunting party, under the command of Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), is busy collecting pelts to be brought back to the fort. While Hugh Glass, his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and a young trapper Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) bag their last animal to take back to the fort, the trappers are attacked by a hostile tribe called the Arikara.
The Arikara warriors have a good reason to attack. The Chief is searching for his daughter who has been captured by trappers. The Arikara is a tribe on a mission and their attack, which is swift, forces the surviving trappers including Glass and his son to flee in their keelboats.
I’ll tell you a secret. Although I revere the grizzly bear as a majestic animal and, it is of my totem guides, I’d rather face a herd of zombies than one angry mama grizzly bear. When the boat is abandoned in an attempt to trick the Arikara, Glass has the bad luck to run into a protective grizzly with cubs. The grizzly (Ursus arctos) bear’s claws are five to six inches long and that mama bear delivers major damage to Hugh Glass. It is a brutal attack that is done shockingly and realistically and, contrary to idiotic reports, the bear did not rape DiCaprio.
Captain Henry knowing that Glass is a goner because of his wounds, and wanting this man to have a decent burial, volunteers two men to stay with Glass and Hawk, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and young Jim. It’s freezing, there’s no food and Fitzgerald doesn’t feel that Glass is dying fast enough. What takes place after Glass is left for dead is the main substance to the story; pure revenge.
In The Revenant, Inarritu artistically brings to the screen the beauty and harshness of the American wilderness for both the American Indian dealing with strangers that took their land and their children from them to the trappers trying to survive long enough to return to their families. Our wilderness, or what’s left of it, is majestic. The sky is clear, the snow is white and the water is clean, but the weather is also extremely harsh. It is in this hostile element that we trudge along with Hugh Glass as he makes his way home. Nothing will stop him not even Mother Nature. The only solace for this tracker is the spirits of his dead Pawnee wife and son.
Life during the early frontier days was rough, that’s a given, but this film brings home the fact in a smorgasbord of sight and sound. We are there with Glass as he hauls himself across the snow and sharp rocks. We can actually feel his icy breath as he climbs out of the river rapids. A film of spiritual connection to nature, Inarritu chose to shoot the film in sequence, using only natural light.
Did you know that the story is based on a true story? Check it out here.
This film was: a love story about a father’s love for his son; about a tribe’s love for their daughter; about a people forced from their lands by immigrants; about mankind surviving a hostile wilderness and, most of all; unbridled revenge. This film sadly drives home the fact that we are losing habitats and beautiful creatures under the boots of capitalism. What a shame.
Leo DiCaprio deserves an Oscar for his work in the Revenant and so does the film. During the Golden Globes, The Revenant won for Best Motion Picture, Drama and Leonardo DiCaprio won for Best Performance by an actor in a motion picture, drama. The bear won nothing, except my upmost respect and plenty of distance between us.