“The Revenant” Impresses With Terrific Storytelling

This Leonardo DiCaprio historical thriller has garnered twelve Oscar nominations.


Leonardo DiCaprio Stars in “The Revenant.” Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

The Revenant is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter. The film follows Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) on his grueling path for revenge, borne from vicious actions of betrayal. Glass, a trapper who collects pelts for his company, falls victim to a savage bear attack that leaves him crippled and at the edge of his life. Following this event, Glass’s group makes the difficult decision to leave him behind, and John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy) is left responsible for him. However, Fitzgerald also decides to move on, and leave Glass to fend for himself. The rest of the film chronicles Hugh Glass’s desperate struggle to survive the harsh, frigid frontier as he attempts to track down the traitorous Fitzgerald.

A standout performer in The Revenant was definitely Leonardo DiCaprio, who endured ample amounts of challenges arising throughout the filming of the movie, during which he gave a fantastic performance despite various obstacles. The movie was shot in the Canadian wilderness, and with this location came bone-chilling temperatures. DiCaprio recalls that throughout the six months they spent filming, he had to withstand hypothermia and wade through freezing rivers. DiCaprio, who is also a vegetarian, had to consume many bizarre foods such as raw bison liver. The Revenant was a completely unique experience in terms of what the actors actually had to go through, nevertheless, DiCaprio put on a performance that was absolutely Oscar-worthy.

Another great performance was given by supporting actor Tom Hardy. Playing the villain of the movie, he offered a realistic presentation that could be understood by the audience. Rising above a trend of being evil simply to be evil, Hardy’s character acted on motives that were clear and logical to all. Building off of the writing, he played his character out terrifically, and has certainly gotten himself a huge chance at winning this year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

A scene from "The Revenant." Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
A scene from “The Revenant.” Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Among the most prominent aspects of The Revenant was the gorgeous cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki. Rarely is there a dull sight to be seen as Lubezki shows breathtaking shots of nature. The bite of the cold can be felt through the screen as a blizzard swirls around DiCaprio; at other times the focus is on the beauty of the winter forest, juxtaposing the pain and awe felt by character and audience alike. The sheer brutality and stunning appeal of Lubezki’s filming is indescribable, offering a raw look at life in the frontier.

The Revenant, in its entirety, contained several scenes that highlighted the talent of this production team, but one scene that truly impressed everyone was the famed scene where Hugh Glass is attacked by a bear. Simply the idea of this scene becoming a success was very implausible due to immensely complex choreography and difficult computer work. However, the final product proved to leap off of the screen and leave the audience members reeling in shock of how fluid and intense the scene actually was.

As the bear rampaged through the forest, the environment reacted exactly how it would in real life: the trees shook from the bear’s gargantuan steps, the bushes violently swayed as DiCaprio and the beast engaged in this very compelling duel, and even DiCaprio himself expressed emotions of unbearable suffering and overwhelming fear.

Overall, all of the elements of the scene meshed together brilliantly to create something truly unforgettable, however the film should be commended for its sheer realism in general, not just for this one scene. Rather than glorifying the life of hunters and those who had to survive conditions seen in the movie, Iñárritu held nothing back in this representation of the wilderness.

Unsurprisingly, The Revenant scored very well with many critics: IMDb gave it an 8.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes gave it The Revenant an 83%, and Metacritic gave it a 76%. The movie also generated a great amount of revenue in the box office. The movie had a limited release on December 25th, 2015, and it was shown at just four theaters, but the movie still managed to make almost $475,000 over Christmas weekend. On the movie’s opening weekend for the public, it generated $39.8 million from 3,375 theaters. To date, The Revenant has made $149.7 million in North America and $176.4 million in other territories, combining for a total of $326.1 million worldwide.

The Oscars are this Sunday, and The Revenant has earned itself multiple nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Hardy), Directing (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.