The Revenant Pushes the Limits

Aaron Kriever, Staff Writer

If you’re a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, you have most likely seen The Revenant by now. If you’re not, you still have no excuse to miss this spectacle.

Directed by Alejandro Inarritu, whose 2014 comedy-drama film, Birdman, garnered immense critical acclaim, The Revenant seeks to push multiple boundaries of film, from the actors’ words and actions to the incredible camera shots.

The movie is loosely based on the true story of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), an 1820s American frontiersman who is left for dead by his company after being brutally mauled by a bear. However, Glass survives the attack and carries himself across miles of snowy forests and plains. He has to avoid being killed by Native Americans and French trappers. His urge to exact his vengeance upon his company drives his will to survive.

DiCaprio’s acting is unlike anything he has ever done prior to The Revanant. In fact, his character has a very small amount of dialogue in comparison to the rest of the cast. His facial expressions and actions are true examples of how convincing an actor can be without even needing to say anything. What’s amazing is that DiCaprio actually went through his character’s actions, such as climbing cliffs and eating the liver of a freshly killed bison.

While DiCaprio is clearly the focal point of the movie, accolades must be given to the rest of the cast. Tom Hardy completely immerses himself in his character John Fitzgerald, a trapper who is critical of Glass and his half-Native son. Whereas DiCaprio’s role is based on physical actions and expressions, Hardy has much more dialogue and ultimately comes off as more of a character. Domhnall Gleeson, who has starred in the Harry Potter films and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, portrays Captain Henry, the leader of Glass and Fitzgerald’s company.

Beyond the impressive acting, The Revenant pushes the limit of camera work and shooting techniques. The entire movie was shot using natural light, which added a deeper level of realism to the film. The entire crew would go on cross-country walks to reach their locations. The computer generated bear attack scene goes above and beyond the norm, immersing the viewer into every bite and scratch that Glass endures. What must have been a nightmare for the production team ended up being a blessing for the finished product; there are no other current movies that even come close to the level of extremist realism that The Revenant reaches.

Just because the crew only used natural light or real locations does not guarantee that the movie is indeed good. It’s important to understand that DiCaprio is not an incredible actor because he eats a live fish. He’s an incredible actor because of how he eats the fish; his motivations for his actions are what make the movie great, not simply the actions themselves.

Overall, The Revenant is unlike any movie you’ve seen before, and it’s worth seeing for the visual experience alone. DiCaprio and Hardy’s performances are impeccable. The locations are captivating. The film hits every mark it needs to and then some.

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