REQUIEM FOR A FILM: The Revenant
In 2015, I was lucky enough to visit my homeland of England. Even though I winced at the thought of leaving the march sun and returning to the bleak British skies, one good thing at least came to my attention. During the flight, I watched Birdman. I watched it twice in a row and both cried and laughed. The beautiful and superbly shot film depicting a fledgling actor’s reprise into fame made me somewhat obsessed with the film’s director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Although unable to fully pronounce his Mexican name, I was nonetheless in awe of his cinema graphic skill that can only be seen in auteurs who are masters of their craft. 52 years of age and definitely going that way.
Fast forward to the very end of 2015 and his latest offering, The Revenant, is released. Personal celebrity crush of mine and most popular meme, Leonardo DiCaprio, mast fully plays the main role of a man left for dead on a hunting trip, seeking to avenge his son’s death. Not quite the family movie of the year, but regardless I saw it with my dad. We both sat speechless, only breaking our statue-like frames to turn to each other and grin in a way that said “dude this is so cool”. The mesmerising graphics only complimented the excellent pace of the story line, a pace that both entices and frightens its audience into thinking what will happen next. DiCaprio’s academy award winning turn as Hugh Glass wasn’t just inspiring, it was incredible. Cheesy as it sounds, but the determination he brought to not only his character’s eyes but to his audience’s, was something I haven’t seen since Kevin Spacey’s bleak Lester Burnham in American Beauty. To this day I feel haunted by the bear attack scene, so beautifully executed by Inarritu’s choice of CGI, his meticulous eye for detail in his cinematography always seems to make you feel a certain sort of way.
Based on a true story and adapted by the 2002 novel of the same name by American novelist Michael Punke, the 2015 film adaption is not only a retelling of a true event, but also represents a frighteningly real issue in today’s society. The particular zeitgeist theme that struck me was the element of power in determination of survival. Not every day we have to fight off bears, but in harsh reality, we have our own grizzlies to defeat. DiCaprio dedicated his academy award speech to global warming, stating; “Making The Revenant was about man's relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Climate change is real; it is happening right now” (2016). The famous actor and UN advocate concluded with, “For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. Let us not take this planet for granted” (2016).
Upon my re-watching of the gorgeous man’s acceptance speech (yes, that is what I like to call him), I did a little research. According to IPCC 2007 report, sea levels will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming. My degree is English, not science. This was a decision made on purpose as I, Megan Neale, am completely and utterly useless when it comes to learning science-y information. But even to a hopeless child like myself, this is alarming.
Glass’s struggle to survive not only focuses on his own personal determination, but also gives a subtle nod to the forces of mother nature. As he battles the freezing cold winds, we see him struggle not only with his injuries, but against the natural conditions of the earth he is trying to survive on. It is clear Inarritu hasn’t just done this by accident.
The Revenant is a beautifully made film filled with excellent special effects that bring this epic tale to life. Through DiCaprio’s Oscar-deserved performance, we sympathise with Glass, as well as reflecting on our own fight to survive in nature. The dazzling 3-hour epic not only has us hoping for Glass’s survival, but it makes us aware we should be hoping for earth’s survival too.