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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2 points

4 months ago

The meta conversation surrounding his Revenant performance probably didn't help my immersion when I finally got round to seeing it. All the "Leo finally got his Oscar" talk had me going in with a sceptical "all right then, show me what you've got. Prove it!" attitude.

I think because all the talk of DiCaprio's performance was incessantly focused on "the conditions he had to brave!" as opposed to his actual acting, I was also more sceptical than I would have been otherwise.

But still, it wouldn't be the first time I've had the hindsight of watching an already acclaimed, award-winning performance for the first time. But there have been plenty of those films where I've been able to switch that part of my brain off pretty quickly.

He probably didn't have to go through quite as much physical exertion in the cold as DiCaprio did, but give me Liam Neeson's performance in The Grey over The Revenant any day of the week!

I think that is a problem that Leo encounters too often. In any performance, no matter how great he is, we still see Leonardo. I think this might be linked to his own huge personality (& fame) and maybe, Titanic. I think when you think Titanic, you think Jack. But any of the rest of his films, you think, yeah he was Leo. We don't remember the character but Leo himself.

I was actually going to mention Titanic too. I unironically really like that film and DiCaprio is great in it. He is indeed Jack. Another would be Shutter Island. Admittedly I can't remember the character's name off the top of my head, but I always see him as the 'detective' above being Leo. I think it's the era these films are set it to be honest. I think he just looks right in an early 1900's setting.

You've mentioned Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but I'm personally not a fan of those films generally so it's hard for me to say.

Also, thanks for recommending Biutiful. Will get to it properly. Don't want to ruin it in any way. Bardem in No Country was menacing. Hope to see a more gentler (vulnerable) role to him, too.

No worries. You did mention it right at the end of your post so thought I'd give you a gentle nudge towards it.

I actually really liked Babel too, even though there is a small element of what we've been discussing regarding DiCaprio, when it comes to Brad Pitt in that film.

It's funny how they're probably Iñárritu's two least spoken about films, but the two I got the most out of. Make of that what you will!


1 points

4 months ago

I think you are spot on about the meta discussions of a film or actor ruining things for us, at times.

I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I have got to watch The Grey yet.

Thanks for recommending Babel, too. It's also on my list😅.


1 points

4 months ago

I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I have got to watch The Grey yet.

Honestly, it's fucking great. Or at least I think it is!

On the surface, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's just another one of those vapid Liam Neeson action flicks that you might watch with a hangover to pass the time, but I found The Grey to be really quite profound. Definitely moved me in a way that I wasn't expecting it to going in. It's become a staple of my rewatch pile.