— Posted by Alyssa
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Beautiful cinematography and excellent direction juxtaposed with a harrowing tale of the resilience of the human spirit makes for one of the most immersive and impressive experiences a viewer can have at a place with hard chairs and sticky floors. You’ll feel transported to the cutthroat time of fur-trapping and civil cultural unrest in Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant.
Hugh Glass (DiCaprio, at his absolute finest) is an expert hunter who is part of a company of fur-trappers on a dangerous expedition. They must navigate the unforgiving terrain and violent natives in order to gather the fur. These pelts are more than just lavish garb worn by the haughty upper-class and whose existence is responsible for outraging PETA. Rather, the stakes are high in that these pelts are a way of life that ensures survival. After a brutal raid by a native tribe leaves many of Glass’s company dead, the survivors are forced to move their pelts and take shelter. This leads to a new, uncharted location that only Glass knows well. However, his familiarity with the land does not save him from its unpredictability. While out hunting, Glass gets viciously mutilated by a giant bear. His near-death experience causes him to become a liability to his company’s goals of moving their pelts and finding shelter. The Captain (Gleeson) is forced to make a tough decision and leaves Glass in the care of a wily and blunt man named Fitzgerald (Hardy, amazing in this role) who is just as unpredictable and threatening as any other predator. Meanwhile, Glass’s half-native son Hawk is also left behind with Fitzgerald alongside another youngster from the company named Bridger (Poulter). Tensions get high leading to disaster and ultimately leaving Glass for dead. He is forced into a position that tests his spirit, resourcefulness, and perseverance.
The 1820s was a brutal time where America was still polishing its ideals, and the country laid claim to endless expanses of land. This is the world of a united nation following the Louisiana Purchase. Bearing (no pun intended) this in mind, the hardships Glass must endure are justifiable. Life as a frontiersman is nowhere near luxurious. The screenplay’s sharp writing favors no particular side of the battle throughout Glass’s distressful journey as he seeks revenge. The natives, the English, the French, the predatory animals that inhabit the land, there is no clear antagonist. It is a cutthroat world where revenge is a constant presence. Iñárritu brilliantly allows the land to open up to Glass and to us in an authentic, surreal manner. It is rare that a film feels so transformative, relatable, and thrilling.