The Revenant is a brilliant modern day interpretation of a western – a mad, enduring and crazy tale. It is very bloody, very violent and full of powerful emotional moments.
Given the demands placed on the actors, it would have been surprising if at least some of them hadn't been in as much a state as Fitzgerald, the surly and psychotic fur trapper played by Tom Hardy, very very well may I add. The film is set in 1823 in the frozen American wastelands. The film opens with an extremely gory scene in which the fur trappers are attacked in their camp by Native American warriors with flaming arrows, Knives and tomahawks. This is all filmed so well and fluidly with no real jump cuts that you get the feeling that this is how it really was for those guys, making it seem even more gruesome. We see dozens of characters in frame and in focus all at the same time. Someone here is being scalped, someone there is being stabbed. A trapper is running to the boat, another is writhing on the ground in agony.
Later on comes one of the most extraordinary and horrifying scenes I have ever seen in a film, in which trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear. The attack lasts for what seems to be an eternity and is shot in such a realistic and close-up way that you could be watching it from a real life documentary. The bear licks him, rips his back open and leaves him all but dead all in the most goriest fashion.
Dicaprios performance in the Revenant really shows his versatility as an actor. Watching him crawl and groan for 180 minutes made me forget he was the same man who played the teen heartthrob jack in Titanic. Even watching him you could see that this must have been one of the most challenging roles he has played purely because of the conditions he was surrounded by 24/7. He grunted more than he spoke and every scene was so physically demanding. He deserves every acting award there is.
Despite his performance, the real star of the film is the camera. Almost every scene opened with a beautiful establishing shot of the frozen valleys or the icey lakes. I almost expected David Attenboroughs voice to appear over the soundtrack. Every close up seemed so crisp and clean but most importantly it just made it seem so real and raw. The most amazing thing is that every scene was shot using natural lighting, an incredible feat by director Alejandro González Iñárritu.