The Revenant

Raving Over “The Revenant”

Every once in a while, a great actor that has been around for a long time gives a high caliber performance that reminds you of why they are so good at their craft. In a nutshell, they solidify why they are masterful at transforming into characters. We’ve seen this with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Daniel Day-Lewis. This year, the actor that joins the ranks of those brilliant performers is Leonardo DiCaprio.

On the surface, The Revenant looks like a typical, two-hour long movie about a man seeking revenge for his family, but it is much more a story about a man who wants to be at peace spiritually and physically. DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a 19th Century frontiersman who gets mauled by a grizzly bear while on an expedition with his son and fellow frontiersmen. He barely survives the bear attack, but his tenacity is the remarkable thing about this scene (other than the bear, who was just as much a character in this movie). The bear attack was twenty-minutes of intense agony with DiCaprio being tossed like a Frisbee and stomped on repeatedly, but somehow this character survives. When you think that things couldn’t get any worse, Fitzgerald, a devious and menacing fur trader/mercenary played by Tom Hardy, is left behind to monitor Glass’s condition. Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass instead, but only reaches as far as to bury him alive in an unmarked grave.

This movie echoes with Native American spiritual proverbs that interweaves with the journey that Glass finds himself on. His journey is about death and rebirth as well as revenge. Here is a man that should be dead and is figuratively dead inside because he lost everything that he holds dear, but he crawls out of this unmarked grave, iron-willed and hell bent on hunting down Fitzgerald. DiCaprio’s character has minimal dialogue in the movie aside from the interactions he had with his Native American son. This made DiCaprio’s performance that much more beautiful and haunting. Not only did DiCaprio physically transform himself into a man who is desperate to live for payback, but he goes through numerous challenges like facing freezing degree temperatures and wildly cascading down a rapid, icy river while escaping from enemies, as well as eating raw bison liver in the middle of the frozen wilderness. One of the most harrowing scenes in The Revenant was an intense horse racing scene where Glass is evading an Indian ambush and rides head first off a cliff.

There is never a dull moment in this movie. You are always engaged in the next obstacle that Glass will find himself against and when he manages to surpass it, there is this sense of relief that he is that much closer to revenge. The director Alejandro Inarritu takes the audience on a spiritual quest, eluding to human nature and asking questions about vengeance. Is vengeance a task only fit for the Creator or can man partake in it? The main character struggles with this question until the very end, when he finally gets a glimpse of his wife and son equivalent of the tranquil peace he eventually finds. The Revenant is a great, cinematic feast all around definitely worth watching.