ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

You know those people who have everything bad happen to them, no matter what they do? Yeah, this movie is about one of those people. But no matter how bleak it gets, you can't stop watching.

1. In case your vocabulary is rusty, a "revenant" is a person who leaves for a long time, and then comes back. They may even come back from the dead.

2. This is a fictional story, but was inspired by a real man. The movie is about Hugh Glass, a tracker for a group of trappers and hunters in the 1800s. They get attacked by members of the Arikara Native American tribe, who are looking for the people that kidnapped one of their girls.

3. Shortly after that, the movie splits up into four different stories, which weave in and out of each other. The main pivot for these splits is a guy named John Fitzgerald, who is the very definition of "every man for himself."

4. It was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. This is his sixth film. He's known for his "Death Trilogy" as well as 2014's Birdman. I've seen all of his films, and he's one of my favorite directors, because he has the rare talent to find beauty in the horror of life, and to find horror in the beauty of life. This movie illustrates that talent perfectly.

5. Leonardo diCaprio gives his most intense performance ever in this movie. It's even more impressive because he hardly ever talks. And Tom Hardy is one of the most versatile actors around (he was Mad Max, he was Bane. He was riveting in Locke, which was just him driving in a car for two hours. And here's a fun fact - Hardy and diCaprio first acted together in Inception). The two men serve as dual tentpoles around which the rest of this movie hangs.

6. The movie will become famous for it's bear attack scene. That scene required months of rehearsal, and Iñárritu watched footage from about 100 bear attacks in order to make it as realistic as possible.

7. Emmanuel Lubezki is the cinematographer here, and his work on this film is astonishing. The shots are lush and haunting. He's filmed Terrence Malik's last three movies (and his upcoming two), and some of Alfonso Cuarón's, such as Gravity.

8. The movie is respectful of Native Americans without making them look like the sanitized and helpless stereotypes that are commonly seen. Everybody contributed to the tensions of the time, and took resources wherever they could be found.

9. Despite some crazy action sequences, this is not an action movie. It's a three-hour exploration of human endurance and revenge. Some people will be captivated by this movie; others will find it to be too long and depressing. In either case, on a technical level this is a masterwork of film-making.

What do you think? Should this movie win awards? Is it too depressing? Put some more points below!


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