With a stunning 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Best Director, The Revenant, inspired by true events, is an epic story of survival and transformation on the American frontier.
Academy Award-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) brings the legend of Hugh Glass to the screen with The Revenant, a remarkable adventure set on the unchartered 19th century American frontier. Immersing audiences in the unparalleled beauty, mystery and dangers of life in 1823 America, the film explores one man’s transformation in a quest for survival. Part thriller, part wilderness journey, The Revenant explores primal drives not only for life itself but for dignity, justice, faith, family and home.
While on an expedition into the uncharted wilderness, explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally mauled by a bear and then abandoned by members of his own team. What follows is quite extraordinary; a cinematic master class from Iñárritu and his long-term collaborator, Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubekzi (Birdman, Gravity), who captures wonderfully America’s past in all its savagery and civility, serenity and ambition.
Iñárritu explains further, “For over five years, this project was a dream for me. It’s an intense, emotional story set against a beautiful, epic backdrop that explores the lives of trappers who grew spiritually even as they suffered immensely physically. Though much of Glass’s story is apocryphal, we tried to stay very faithful to what these men went through in these undeveloped territories. We went through difficult physical and technical conditions to squeeze every honest emotion out of this incredible adventure.”
“The Revenant is a story of harsh survival but also one of inspirational hope,” Iñárritu says. “For me, the important part was to convey this adventure with a sense of wonder and discovery, as an exploration of both nature and human nature.”
In a career of highs, with five Oscar nominations, including for The Aviator and The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio is incredible as trapper, Hugh Glass in The Revenant. It is certainly his most intensely physical and, remarkably for long periods, wordless role.
“The Revenant is an incredible journey through the harshest elements of an uncharted America,” says DiCaprio. “It’s about the power of a man’s spirit. Hugh Glass’s story is the stuff of campfire legends, but Alejandro uses that folklore to explore what it really means to have all the chips stacked against you, what the human spirit can endure and what happens to you when you do endure.”
The director emphasizes that DiCaprio faced tests no actor could fully prepare for in his performance. “Leo was working in the toughest of conditions, under a challenging wardrobe, in extreme make-up, going to the most emotionally uncomfortable and dark places. But no matter what he is going through, something immediate comes to life when Leo is in front of the camera. There’s an incredible power,” Iñárritu observes. “The way we were shooting demanded an enormous amount from him in terms of rhythm, timing, momentum and silence, yet Leo makes it all work because he is so present.”
In turn, DiCaprio says he gave Iñárritu his full trust. “What I really love about Alejandro’s approach is that he’s an old-school filmmaker who believes in the art of creating something on the screen - and he’s also kind of an outsider, even though he works on the inside. He understands the industry as it is now, but he’s been influenced by an entire lifetime of studying cinema history and developed his own uncompromising style that is now synonymous with his name. There are very few filmmakers out there who can escape the Hollywood mould and yet accomplish a film like this one on such an epic scale.”
‘Epic’ is a perfect one-word review of The Revenant. Also starring Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleason and Will Poulter, it demands your attention; it is bold, beautiful, brutal, sometimes bleak but always breathtakingly brilliant.
The Revenant is at Showcase Cinema from today