Cinema Cindy Reviews ‘The Revenant’

By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
Los Alamos
 
“The Revenant”, at 2 hours and 36 minutes in length, is a test of endurance for the moviegoer. But compared to the story of endurance told in the film, that is nothing.
 
In 1823, Hugh Glass was serving as a scout on an American fur-trapping expedition through the upper Missouri River watershed, in Montana and North Dakota. While out hunting food for the party, Glass unknowingly gets between a grizzly and her two cubs. He is severely mauled and left for dead by the bear.
 
His own company, after attempting to carry him on a wooden pallet for many miles towards a fort, determines he is a goner: he is slowing their progress and threatening their own survival. Two men are recruited to stay with Glass and to bury him when he dies, John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger. At some point they give up on him and bury him alive, returning to their company with the story that he received a proper burial.
 
All of this, so far, is historical truth. So is the fact that Glass somehow survived, enduring a terrible 200 mile journey back to find his company at Fort Kiowa. Glass set his own broken bones, treated infected wounds, ate whatever came to hand and was assisted along the way by Pawnee (and threatened by Arikara) natives.
 
“The Revenant” has been nominated in 12 categories for the Oscars, airing Feb. 28. This fact motivated us to overlook the obvious graphic nature of the film to see what the fuss was about. Having seen it, I will say once is enough. As one friend said, you may not want to eat meat soon after it. What will stay with me is the cinematography, the beauty of unspoiled wilderness ramblings in the dead of winter, gorgeous shots of nature, snow, rivers, waterfalls, trees and wild animals.
 
If you can stand the brutality of how people survived in those conditions and the horrible butchery of whites against native peoples and vice versa, it is worth seeing this film. The Oscars it gets will be for the effort it took to make The Revenant.
 
Much has been said of Leonardo DiCaprio’s effort playing Hugh Glass, enduring being pulled and tossed around, living in the freezing conditions, crawling over snow; he has said he put more into this film, physically, than any before. In fact, the filming of The Revenant was intended to last just 80 days. Instead, it took 9 months in the wintery wilds of Alberta, Canada, and, when winter ended there, they moved filming to the wilds of Argentina.
 
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Birdman) and his cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman), were determined to only film in natural light, which put them at the mercy of the whims of nature, themselves. The lighting and the unspoiled vistas succeed in making Revenant a visceral experience for the viewer.
 
Much can be said of the roles Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Albuquerque’s own Forest Goodluck play in this film. But the deterrent to seeing it is clear in the rating: “R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity.” This is not a “feel good” movie.
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