The hype surrounding Alejandro G. Iñárritu's epic western thriller has been gaining momentum over the last few weeks, especially with the Academy Award nominations just around the corner on January 14, 2016.
For those that need reminding, the movie The Revenant is based on true events surrounding American explorer and fur trapper Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who is mauled by a bear and abandoned to die in the wilderness by his fellow explorers. Here's the trailer:
Last Monday, the period drama was unveiled to an audience at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles, sparking debates over whether the movie was a strong contender to get the gold at the prestigious award ceremony.
What did the audience at the Goldwyn Theater think of the movie?
Well, not much can be said just yet as all reviews have been embargoed until December 4, but from the audience's reaction, it seems that The Revenant is already provoking some strong reactions.
For one, the feature is quite long, clocking in at just over two and half hours of stunning cinematography and hard-hitting themes. And secondly, the viewing experience is so intense that several people were seen walking out of the screening altogether, clearly unable to take some of the gruesome scenes!
In fact, one Academy member posted this review:
Disappointed with The Revenant. There's no 'there' there. Long Brutal. No clear eco message. Violent and pointless. Revenge in the wilderness.
"I certainly don't eat bison liver on a regular basis"
Undoubtedly, the movie is not an easy viewing experience, this we know from the trailer and the horror stories of how The Revenant was filmed. In particular, Leo himself shed light on the nine grueling months spent in freezing cold Canada and Argentina the other week. According to the actor, alongside curling up inside the carcass of a dead animal for a scene, he also ate bison liver during the shoot. His actual words where:
"I certainly don’t eat raw bison liver on a regular basis. When you see the movie, you’ll see my reaction to it, because Alejandro kept it in. It says it all. It was an instinctive reaction."
Indeed, Leo's performance in The Revenant is largely physical rather than verbal (in fact, he barely speaks for the 151 minutes of the movie!) and it's understandable to imagine how the gory scenes of bear-attacks and gruesome survival tacts might have appeared too much to LA audiences, especially considering we know that much of the on-screen reactions were shockingly real.
Yet, is it enough to bag Leo an Oscar?
Over the course of his career, Leo has received four Academy Award nominations, famously failing to take home the gold every single time. Yet, many argue that this is the role that is bound to get him the golden statue once and for all.
If anything, DiCaprio's blood-soaked revenge on those who betrayed him is a far cry from his humble beginnings as a teenage heartthrob. As a stalwart of the Hollywood acting community and an actor in a myriad of acclaimed movies, it is high time he received the high honor.
"This was the most difficult film that I think any of us have done"
During the post-screening Q&A with guild and media members of the Academy on Monday, the actor appeared with the director, as well as Martin Scorsese, and spoke of the difficulties faced in bringing the story to the big screen, making it clear once again that:
"This was the most difficult film that I think any of us have done."
To which, Iñárritu added:
"It was like rock climbing without a rope."
The director also reiterated the harsh conditions during filming, speaking of the "almost impossible task" of spending weeks mapping out the camera moves before going on location in the Alberta tundra.
With record freezing temperatures, Iñárritu revealed that the cameras often froze, putting a halt to crucial filming, much of which was also done in natural light. He candidly concluded:
"The conditions were against us all the time. I'm a tropical man from Mexico City."
'The Revenant' opens in limited release on December 25, 2015 and wide release on January 8, 2016.