By Camyle Cryderman, Editor-In-Chief
Few historical events prove interesting enough to be the inspiration for a successful motion picture, especially clichéd survival stories. When one comes around though, it generally goes on to be wildly successful. “The Revenant” is the 2016 film to do just that.
Released in theaters nationwide on Jan. 8, “The Revenant,” directed by Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a gruesome frontier survival story. Grossing $38 million in its opening weekend, “The Revenant” was the first movie to earn more than “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on any one day since its release. With A-list actors contributing to the film’s notoriety, not only was it a success on the screen, but also at the recent Golden Globe awards. Pulling in best motion picture drama, best director and best actor for a motion picture drama, “The Revenant” awed viewers across the globe.
Based off of the supposedly true events first retold in 1939, “The Revenant” is set in 1823 in the cold wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. The film opens with Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) having a vague flashback of his Native American wife and young son living in their village. The scene then cuts to the present where a group of American settlers, including Glass, are gathering animal pelts and are unknowingly attacked by the Native American tribe Arikara. The settlers attempt to fight back, but resort to escape via a small boat. Only about one-third of the group make it out alive, but they travel into the woods to further escape the tribe. Once settled at camp, Glass goes out in search of food only to be found by a defensive mother bear. He is brutally attacked and left in critical condition when the rest of his group reach him. In order to survive, the settlers know they must continue moving, so they stitch Glass’s wounds to the best of their abilities and carry him with them. When the trek becomes unbearable, and Glass’s condition seems to worsen, the group agrees to continue onward only leaving two fellow settlers, Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Glass’s son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) to watch after the dying man until his last breath for a payout of 200 dollars when they return. The men wait, but Glass’s condition does not change. In impatient greed, Fitzgerald attempts to end Glass’s life on his own, only to be stopped by Hawk. Fitzgerald then kills Hawk instead unbeknownst to Bridger, and convinces Bridger to leave Glass on his own and travel back to safety with the rest of the group.
The story goes on to focus on Glass’s miraculous and unbelievable recovery. He drags himself through the freezing temperatures avoiding uncertain death at every turn. Fighting Native Americans, wild animals, starvation and hypothermia on his own all while being critically injured, Glass ultimately aims to, and succeeds in avenging the murder of his son by finding Fitzgerald.
The cinematography of this film is what captivates audiences. The awe-inspiring views of snowy wilderness add to the surrealism of Glass’s survival. They create an aesthetically pleasing experience and combined with intense acting, the film forms an epic adventure.
Where the film lacks, is in its plot. Although mixed in with a unique focus of survival, the movie is reminiscent of a typical Western film. For those who do not particularly enjoy this genre, the storyline will be less than ideal. With multiple background plots happening continuously, the film may seem overwhelming and will not be enjoyed on as deep of a level as expected.
Although “The Revenant” has its short comings, the combination of passion and drama create an inspiring film that makes up for what it lacks. Through intense videography and impressive acting, “the Revenant” is worth the time, and is sure to be a classic to come.