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by Erica Ladd
Based on the real life experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass, The Revenant is a biographical western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu set in 1823 Loisiana Purchase territory Montana and South Dakota. Written by Mark L. Smith and Iñárritu, the story is based on Michael Punke’s The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Glass, a man on a fur trapping and hunting expedition with his son (Forrest Goodluck) and group of other former military men led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson). After a deadly ambush by a Native American Arikara tribe, 33 men are killed and the party flees into the forest where Glass, wandering alone, is suddenly and brutally attacked by a bear defending her cubs. Mauled and gravely injured and still being tracked by the pursuing tribe, Glass is left in the care of his son Hawk, Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Fitzgerald promises to give him a proper burial once Glass finally and inevitably dies but he becomes impatient and wishing to rejoin the rest of the group, he attempts to hurry the process along. The resulting violence leaves Glass alone in the woods, awaiting his death. He doesn’t die, however, and spends the duration of the film clawing and crawling his way back to civilization, fueled by a vengeance for Fitzgerald and his wrongdoing.
The film is astounding to behold. The cinematography is breathtaking, the long shots are expertly crafted, and the skill it took to accomplish the look and feel of this film is truly impressive. It just won The Golden Globe for best motion picture (drama), best director and a best actor award for DiCaprio. And rightfully so. It’s gritty, violent and sometimes hard to watch in its ultra-real, in-your-face, excruciatingly detailed rendering of one man’s struggle against the elements, the brutality of his fellow man, and a desire to live. My only complaint is that it runs a little too long at two and a half hours. It’s a simple story and a bleak one at that. But it’s incredibly well made and worth a viewing.
Watch the trailer for The Revenant
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