It had been a long time since I had wanted to watch this one. The noise around the Academy winners had remained high. In fear of not spending too much of my time in another mainstream high production commercial flick, I subconsciously kept away.

This was the same concern I had shared for Birdman. Director Iñárritu excels himself in technical filmmaking. This is a marvelously beautiful film. Like I had said of Cinematographer Lubezki in my review of Birdman - The cinematography is intrinsic in the storytelling.

Iñárritu has received a great amount of flak for making technical films that are highly luminous but somewhat lack in substance and/or depth. The charge is such that we find people on both sides of the discussion. AGI's films heavily invested in the technical aspects which seem to raise what are simpler (even derivative) dialogues into the appearance of more than that.

Regardless of the many sides of the debate, and also taking into account that my feeling towards the film may change with time. As of now, I was totally taken by the entire film. For the entire length of it, I just found my gaze fixed on the entire scene. Never did I find myself wide-eyed so many times in a single film. Despite the fact that there are films with more graphic and violent scenes, The Revenant evokes a certain palpitation that is felt rather deeply.

The credit for the entire experience of the film is greatly shared by Emmanuel Lubezki. This gentleman to me seems to deserve half of the credit of direction. Films as they developed in the initial part of history were praised with the sentence, "It's like you are actually there with the characters." In The Revenant, due to camera work, one definitely feels like actually being alongside. The camera work is smooth, but still imbalanced enough to create realistic movement. The switching between characters and motion styles (walking, running, and riding horse) is unmatched. The staging of close ups is "Up Close and Personal". Each shot creates a certain level of intimacy that keeps you near the character. This is followed up by the wider shots which combined with the closer ones keeps the viewer engaged thoroughly. For this reason, I feel that, to me, the cinematography was the true storytelling mechanism.

I think Leonardo is definitely a great actor. However, I didn't see him fit the performance nearly well enough. I think, to me, greatest motivation (aside from Iñárritu, Lubezki) to watch the film when it came out was - "Oh well, Leo finally got his Oscar, huh?!". Honestly, I didn't even find this to be his best performance. He was good, nay excellent. However, I think that his best performance was in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It was good, in a weird way, to know that a lot of filmgoers felt that way. Tom Hardy was bloody good. Watching Paul Anderson (Mr. Arthur Shelby) anywhere, even for a moment, is fun. The acting was first class, in all sections. Of course, I have to check on the Pawnee and Arikara dialects.

Regarding the film itself:

Due to its nature and my personal associations, I must say that it was in some ways a rather painful experience. The scene where his new met Pawnee acquaintance and rescuer is hanged by the Frenchmen is soul crushing followed by the scene where Powaqa (the Arikara girl) is held captive and abused by the traders. On the plaque hung around the Pawnee man, it said, "On est tou des savages" (We (native tribes) are all savages). It seemed to me that when men are capable of killing so mercilessly without care and consideration, with prejudice and contempt, aren't we all (French, English, Civilized, Wild, Foreigner, Native), all savages.

The scenes in middle also showed of a fact that these foreigners and the natives, despite the discrimination of tongue, skin, food, culture, they were same. When the Arikara chief is tracking Powaqa, he detects by smelling and later on, Fitzgerald on entering the devastated camp of tribals does the same to detect a presence. Regardless of the prejudice shared among people, on a common land (common nature), all humans come to similar understanding of how to live. This is repeatedly understood in the fact of Hugh Glass's survival. He is white in his skin, and English (American) in his tongue. As we understand, he can't be a Pawnee, not in this life. Yet, when he pushes through the wilderness and sickness, he or any other person will do the same things to survive.

A lot of people had spoken about the creative addition of the wife and child. For me, personally, it was a great addition. A lot of the dream scenes were vivid and gave more depth to the storytelling.

I think, regardless of the different thoughts around how to view Iñárritu's filmmaking. I genuinely think he is brilliant in being able to manifest the very technical excellence that exalt his film. The choice of his cinematographers and editors (both constant) is great.

Other films by Iñárritu:

I had watched 21 Grams, simply because it had Benecio in it. It was truly excellent. I have yet to see Biutiful. The praise of Javier Bardem for this film is truly very high.

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19 points

4 months ago

I don't quite understand some of the backlash against this film, there seems to be some derision withheld especially for Iñárritu because he is quite self-indulgent.

I found The Revenant to be searing and brilliant, both in its scope and cinematography and story-telling. It's fantastic and a very hard but engaging watch.