By Maria Loizou
I must admit, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy The Revenant. I’m not the biggest fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and the trailer didn’t particularly entice me. As I left the cinema the other night, however, I was extremely impressed and found I had been well and truly proven wrong. As well as that, I believe that Leonardo DiCaprio will, and should finally, earn an Oscar for his performance in this film.
The Revenant, in a nutshell, portrays the story of Hugh Glass, a 19th century fur-trapper who is searching and fighting for vengeance against the man who has murdered his son. Yet the film is so much more than that, and although it is quite long (2 hours, 36 minutes), every single minute is necessary to tell the tale. The spectator feels as if they are playing a part in Glass’ journey and the character-spectator rapport is one that astounded me in this film. I felt connected to each and every person in The Revenant, although the character that impacted me the most was not DiCaprio as Glass; it was Tom Hardy, who played the captivating Fitzgerald. Hardy’s character – the murderer of Glass’ son – is known from the get-go as the villain of the piece. He is a bitter, selfish man who has been previously injured in the most skin-crawling of ways, and the brutal depiction of his injury is enough to make you feel sick.
Feeling uncomfortable was something that happened to me a lot during the film, as it was extremely gory. When it comes to films, I tend to prefer a more girly rom-com, so this was definitely out of my comfort zone, and the gore was in the valley of the unknown. After hearing reports of just how graphic the film was, I was worried that I might find it all unnecessary, but I didn’t. The strong images – people eating the raw meat of a freshly murdered animal, the extremely violent fighting – it was all necessary to set the context and understand exactly how much these characters would go through in order to survive.
When it comes to the cinematography of the film, although I’m not a film student, I couldn’t help but notice how incredible it was. It’s impossible to disregard. One scene that cannot be ignored is the infamous scene with the bear, which, despite being computerised, is so realistic it’s impossible to tell any different. The clarity of shots is almost unreal, but what’s interesting is that this couldn’t be further from the case. The film was shot in completely natural light. Emmanuel Lubezki said he chose to do this as he wanted the audience to feel as if they were there, creating an empathetic relationship between the viewer and the characters. Of course, the characters aren’t real, but when you physically see the breath emerging from Glass’s mouth, you feel his struggle in the severe temperatures. And, as the film ends, DiCaprio looks straight into the camera, appearing to look directly at the viewer. You are certain that this journey, this chapter in the character’s life, is over.
I’ve never seen a film like The Revenant, so I’m unable to draw comparisons to other films that could be deemed as similar, but overall, I absolutely loved it. To me, the film succeeded in every single way, and I already can’t wait to see it again. I think the film deserves every single award that it’s won, and every future award that it’s been nominated for.