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In “The Revenant,” a period drama reaching for tragedy, Leonardo DiCaprio plays the mountain man Hugh Glass, a figure straight out of American myth and history. He enters dressed in a greasy, fur-trimmed coat, holding a flintlock rifle while stealing through a forest primeval that Longfellow might have recognized.Download The Revenant Movie, This, though, is no Arcadia; it’s 1823 in the Great Plains, a pitiless testing ground for men that’s littered with the vivid red carcasses of skinned animals, ghastly portents of another slaughter shortly to come. The setting could not be more striking or the men more flinty.
“The Revenant” is an American foundation story, by turns soaring and overblown. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“Birdman,” “Babel”), it features a battalion of very fine, hardworking actors, none more diligently committed than Mr. DiCaprio, and some of the most beautiful natural tableaus you’re likely to see in a movie this year. Partly shot in outwardly unspoiled tracts in Canada and Argentina, it has the brilliant,Download The Revenant Movie, crystalline look that high-definition digital can provide, with natural vistas that seem to go on forever and suggest the seeming limitless bounty that once was. Here, green lichen carpets trees that look tall enough to pierce the heavens. It’s that kind of movie, with that kind of visual splendor — it spurs you to match its industrious poeticism.
If you’re familiar with Mr. Iñárritu’s work, you know paradise is generally short-lived, and here arrows and bullets are soon flying, bodies are falling and the muddy banks of a riverside camp are a gory churn.Download The Revenant Movie, Glass, part of a commercial fur expedition, escapes with others on a boat and sails into an adventure that takes him through a crucible of suffering — including a near-fatal grizzly attack — that evokes by turns classics of American literature and a “Perils of Pauline”-style silent-film serial. Left for dead by two companions, Glass crawls out of a shallow grave and toward the men who abandoned him. It’s a narrative turn that suggests he, like so many before him, is one of D. H. Lawrence’s essential American souls: “hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.”
The movie is partly based on “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge,” a 2002 historical adventure by Michael Punke inspired by the real Hugh Glass. In 1823, Glass signed on with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company for an expedition on the upper Missouri River that almost did him in when Arikara Indians attacked the group and, sometime later, he was mauled by a grizzly sow that may have been protecting her cubs. The bear should have killed Glass.Download The Revenant Movie, Instead, its failure to do so — along with Glass’s frontier skills, some help from strangers and the indestructible romance of the American West — turned him into a mountain man legend and the inspiration for various accounts, including a book-length poem and a 1971 film, “Man in the Wilderness.”
The historical Glass was somewhat of a question mark, which makes him a spacious vessel for interpretation. Mr. Iñárritu, who wrote the script with Mark L. Smith, fills that vessel to near overflowing, specifically by amplifying Glass with a vague, gauzily romantic past life with an unnamed Pawnee wife (Grace Dove) seen in elliptical flashback. By the time the movie opens, the wife is long dead, having been murdered by white troops, and Glass’s son,Download The Revenant Movie, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), has become his close companion. The son’s name evokes James Fenimore Cooper’s Hawk-eye (“The Last of the Mohicans”), and together Glass and Hawk create an intimate, familial bulwark — and a multicultural father-and-son dyad — in a wilderness teeming with assorted savages.
Who exactly the savage is here is never much of an issue; as a sign scrawled in French spells out in one scene, everyone is. Mr. Iñárritu likes big themes, but he isn’t given to subtlety. There’s a shocker of an image, for instance, in “Amores Perros,” his feature debut, which expresses his talent for finding the indelible cinematic shot, the one you can’t look away from even when you want to, and also underscores his penchant for overstatement. Download The Revenant Movie, One of those multi-stranded stories that he helped repopularize (“Babel,” etc.), “Amores Perros” includes a murder capped by the vision of human blood spilled on a hot griddle. This being a big moment as well as an illustration of Mr. Iñárritu’s sensibility, the blood doesn’t just splatter, it also sizzles. It’s filmmaking as swagger.
I thought of that artfully boiling blood while watching “The Revenant,” with its butchered animals, muddled ideas, heart-skippingly natural landscapes and moment after moment of visual and narrative sizzle. What makes too many of his moments, ghastly and grand — an arrow piercing a man’s throat, the beatific face of a beloved, a man scooping the innards out of a fallen horse, the enveloping softness of the dusk light — isn’t the moment itself,Download The Revenant Movie, but that little something special that he adds to it, whether it’s a gurgle of blood in a throat or the perfectly lighted sheen of a hunk of offal. Mr. Iñárritu isn’t content to merely seduce you with ecstatic beauty and annihilating terror; he wants to blow your mind, to amp up your art-house experience with blockbusterlike awesomeness.
Sometimes, as with “Birdman,” Mr. Iñárritu’s last movie, this desire to knock the audience out pays off. “The Revenant” is a more explicitly serious, graver and aspirational effort.Download The Revenant Movie, Working again with a team that includes the director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (whose credits include “Birdman”) and a handful of special-effects companies, Mr. Iñárritu creates a lush, immersive world that suggests what early-19th-century North America might have looked like once upon an antediluvian time. Yet he complicates the myth of the American Eden — and with it the myth of exceptionalism — by giving Glass an Indian wife and mixed-race son. It’s a strategic move (and another bit of sizzle) that turns a loner into a sympathetic family man. It also softens the story. Instead of another hunter for hire doing his bit to advance the economy one pelt at a time, Glass becomes a sentimentalized figure and finally as much victim as victimizer.
Download The Revenant Movie, From Davy Crockett to Kit Carson, the mountain man has long had a hold on the American imagination and recently made a revisionist appearance in the form of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of “The Hunger Games.” The mountain men in “The Revenant” are drawn along more traditional and masculine lines,Download The Revenant Movie, from their bushy beards to the buckskins and bulky furs that at times make them look almost indistinguishable from the animals they kill. Mr. Iñárritu is entranced by this world, with its glories and miseries, its bison tartare and everyday primitivism, which he scrupulously recreates with detail and sweep. He’s particularly strong whenever Glass, employing that old can-do pragmatism, goes into survivalist mode to cauterize a wound, catch a fish or find shelter.
Download The Revenant Movie, But Mr. Iñárritu blows it when he moves from the material to the mystical and tries to elevate an ugly story into a spiritual one, with repeated images of a spiral and even a flash of homespun magical realism. Worse, he makes Glass not just a helpless witness to a murder that’s a stand-in for the genocide of the Indians, but also a proxy victim of that catastrophe. It’s disappointing in a movie that offers much and that actually points to another foundation story that emerges when one of Glass’s companions, Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy),Download The Revenant Movie, tries and fails to get paid for his labor. He learns too late that the system that turns people and animals into commodities is rigged against men like him. And while the simple facts of that system may be too brutal to feed the ambitions of a movie like “The Revenant,” we know that the system nevertheless helped build a nation.
A primal thriller set in the wilderness of the American frontier in the 19th century, Inarritu's film is cinematic, powerful and raw. It's a story about survival,Download The Revenant Movie, fuelled by determination, courage and revenge as it explores issues of loyalty, betrayal and redemption. While the narrative takes the form of a drama filled with unexpected twists, the film is essentially a visceral experience in which the elements of nature and the internal struggles are as much a part of the action as the narrative. Watching The Revenant is an immersive experience with its breathtaking landscapes, extreme weather conditions, overt brutality and close up view of an unforgiving life in which survival is key.
There are many textures, colours and tempos reflected in the waters that rush between the tall trees in the opening scenes. The perilous reality is quickly established as we get a sense of life as a fur trader, battling the elements and the constant imminent risks and dangers. Leonardo diCaprio's Hugh Glass is different from the other traders, prompted by his commitment to his native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck),Download The Revenant Movie, his murdered Pawnee wife and connection to nature. Nothing prepares us for the shocking bear attack when Glass is mauled to inches of his life. However, John Fitzgerald's (Tom Hardy) disregard for human life when he leaves Glass for certain death in inhumane circumstances is far more shocking than a bear protecting its cubs.
It is the strength of Glass's love for his son above and beyond his own will to survive that motivates him to find the superhuman strength to crawl from his grave. The sight of diCaprio with unkempt hair and facial hair, making his way across the vast landscape, the fur of the bear that nearly kills him wrapped around his shoulders in the extreme conditions, is an indelible sight. Demanding extreme physicality as well as a nuanced internal emotional thrust, diCaprio brings a great intensity to the role. Hardy makes a fine adversary as the morally bankrupt Fitzgerald,Download The Revenant Movie, while Domhnal Gleeson and Will Poulter, with their distinctive looks and strengths, are strong additions to the cast.The arduous journey Glass faces for his survival is filled with confronting scenes, none more so than the one in which he disembowels a dead horse in order to creates a den for his hibernation. Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki uses effective extreme close ups all the while, ensuring we are there for the experience.
Those who rely on non-stop action may become restless. Innarritu uses the 156 minute running time to immerse us in the setting; the beauty of the film is about the experience. We are there as Glass treks through thick crunchy snow, swims in icy rivers, tumbles down treacherous waterfalls,Download The Revenant Movie, while battling hunger and managing his life threatening injuries. His human foes are equally threatening.I love the thrilling percussive fanfare in the lead up to the final confrontation between Glass and Fitzgerald. The score then offers what sounds like the orchestra tuning up, in anticipation of the final performance. There is everything to lose for both men and these scenes are violent and savage. Innarritu has made a formidable film with extreme elements and whose visual and emotional essence lingers.
If suffering on screen gets you an Oscar, Leonardo Di Caprio certainly deserves one. He spends almost his entire time on screen as Hugh Glass, in pain: badly mauled by a grizzly bear in Canada's remote frontier, buried alive, painfully crawling towards safety, tumbled down a wintry waterfall,Download The Revenant Movie, stabbed in the hand ... and all the while mourning the murder of his half caste son. His wife had also been murdered. Anyone who doesn't feel some sympathy for Glass is a psychopath.To make matters worse, as it were, the filmmaking is of such high standard technically speaking that we do indeed feel Glass' pain.
What was he doing there in the first place? As part of a hunting party collecting pelts for trade, he was a working tradesman, under the command of Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), although the film doesn't make it clear just who this bunch are. Nor can we work it out from the dialogue, most of which is lost in a combination of heavy, often mumbled accents and too much bass in the mix.There are faint echoes of Gladiator in the story,Download The Revenant Movie, insofar as the father-son relationship is concerned, and the memory-visions of the murdered wife. That element helps infuse the film (and the score) with considerable melancholy, which distracts us from the fact that The Revenant is really a (very long) revenge story; again, echoes of Gladiator.
The film is superbly made. Spectacular landscape shots and a clarity of images the dialogue doesn't match propel the film as a visual pleasure. I have not the read the book, but I would have to imagine it offers a deeper experience, the visualisation of its mystic elements notwithstanding. For instance,Download The Revenant Movie, the relationship between Glass and Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) which is so crucial to the story, is underwritten, so the magnitude of Fitzgerald's bastardry - the fuel for Glass' revenge - is lost. The internal aspects of the prose have not been put on the screen and it's those aspects that would warrant such a huge undertaking.
The film resolves around a final physical confrontation between two men, which reduces the film's internal emotional dynamics to the level of a simple old fistfight or gunfight in which only the good guy can triumph.Download The Revenant Movie, After two and a half hours, I would have liked the stuff of the film to have been as deep as the snow.