"THE REVENANT" is a brutally cold heartless Jeremiah Johnson of the 21st century. Visually striking, painful to watch, offering no redemption for any of the characters (other than the ghost of a murdered Indian squaw that eerily transcends the rest of the casts feral existence). Maybe the times called for that savage cut of a man to explore and tame the wilds of the new territories, or just to survive another day.
Whatever the case, Inarritu's rendering is indeed haunting.
Tom hardy's rabid mumbling portrayal of Fitzgerald, a man on the edge of sanity, made his dialogue mostly unintelligible.
The haunting performance of Will Poulter, an English bred actor, was noteworthy, and I expect he will working non-stop.
"THE REVENANT" is billed as being based on the book, by Michael Punke, but the interpretation is looser than a slip knot made of nylon thread. In fact the only similarity is the skeleton storyline of Glass being ripped to shreds by a bear then abandoned by the two men charged with tending to him, and their inhumane desertion of him.
On the whole, the book is a great supplementary experience to the movie. It fills in the blanks and is flooded with early frontiersman history, more of Glass' true biography, detailed unique survival scenes, and many flecks of biographies of noteworthy characters congealed into fictitious ones, offering a more complete picture of the trappers world.
The synopsis: An expedition of one of the burgeoning Fur Trading Companies in what was then newly explored territory, clashes with warring Indians, and the brutal wilderness along the Missouri River during the fall and winter of 1823.
Their premiere frontiersman, Hugh Glass, is savagely mauled by a bear while out killing the evening meal. He is still alive, barely.
The company of a couple dozen hardscrabble men drag and carry Glass along as they pull camp and trek on, but when the slow pace puts the whole group at risk the Captain pays two volunteers, Fitzgerald and Bridger, to stay beyond with the near corpse so Glass can have a proper burial (which shows the great amount of rare respect he garnered) when he dies, which they assume is inevitably within a day or so. Glass' young tenderfoot Indian son stays with them also, though he is treated with contempt.
The heartless ruthless Fitzgerald could care less if Glass dies, for him the end couldn't come soon enough, in fact he's tempted to quicken the act by doing it himself. The young peevish greenhorn Bridger makes ongoing attempts to comfort the ravaged man, whom they've already placed in an open grave while he is still breathing, by tending to his extensive wounds with pine pitch and poultices.
The winter landscapes infusing the film were stunning, though totally immersed in a soused greyness that after awhile dulled the senses to their striking-ness.
Emmanuel Lubezki was well recognized with numerous awards for the cinematography, and rightly so, it was no easy task. His aesthetic plan to shoot exclusively with natural light for maximum realism allowed for only a few shooting hours a day in conditions that were so brutal in the remote locations of both Canada and Argentina the crews were constantly abandoning ship in protest.
Starring actor Leonardo Di Caprio (Hugh Glass) performed on the edge of hypothermia running through streams and snow during most of the shooting, so he was living the survival scenes, there was no Lee Strasbourg Actors Studio mind games of pretending to become a tree, he was actually freezing and miserable. And that was the constant tone of his character throughout the film. There were no lighter moments of joy, no redemption, not a moment of peace for his tormented soul, nor for the audience.
But while Bridger is out looking for game, Fitzgerald murders Glass' son right before Glass' eyes, his crudely stitched throat too maimed to offer up protest. Fitzgerald concocts a story about Indians closing in all around their camp in order to get Bridger to abandon the crippled body, convincing the boy to flee with him back to the Fort, taking Glass' gun and survival kit with them.
The rest is a dark slogging painful journey, a plain rancid meat and potatoes (no veggie) stew of brute survival and revenge.
Director Alejandro G. Innaritu and fellow writer mark L. Smith chose not to weave in any extensive backstories on any of the scabrous characters, or to explore the many facets of bountiful history of the fur trading companies expansion into what is now North Dakota and Montana, or the complex and ever-changing espalier of relations betwixt the multiple Indian Tribes of the region as well as with the white-men, after all most tribes did benefit mightily by the increased trading, so some were aiding the trappers while their brethren were slashing the camps and the white-men to shreds.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio Will Poulter Tom Hardy
Director: Alejandro G. Inarruti
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki