Leonardo DiCaprio has missed the Oscars many times but this year, the only way he will not pick the plaque considering his outstandingly superb performance in ‘The Revenant’ is to die from his bear wounds a few days before the grand ceremony.
‘The Revenant’ is beautiful and yet vicious; a story of endurance told in such a way that the unending ferocious adventures of a nineteenth-century fur trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) cripple your veins—let loose only when the credit begins to roll.
Having joined other civilian privateers engaged in a US military expedition led by Andrew Henry (played by Domhnall Gleeson) somewhere near the Missouri river to establish a lucrative fur-trapping base, Hugh Glass and his men are pulled into a deranged war with arrows flying all over from tribesmen-warriors. The tribesmen are enraged by the kidnap of a Native American-woman, Powaqa (played by Melaw Nakehk’o)
After arrows have pierced the throat of more than half the men of Andrew Henry, Glass somewhat becomes the leader, guiding the few to retreat—setting the film in full motion.
It’s intense, sometimes made light by the various beautiful landscapes but the hovering darkness of impending death of Hugh Glass never loses its thickness.
Even, having survived a brutal bear mauling which many have wrongly called a ‘rape’ was not enough to guarantee that Hugh Glass would make it—the odds were too dangerous and too many against him.
Though ‘The Revenant’ is a true story of Hugh Glass, it’s embellished with enough nerve-racking scenes that suck you deep into the main character’s battle for revenge—exceptionally thrilling and excruciating.
The bear attack of Hugh Glass was brutal, magnificently depicted on screen—it weakened every bone and flesh in him. But it was the murder of his son by a fellow frontiersman, right before him when he could not do anything to help that killed his survival instinct—and ironically gave him a new reason to forge forward, not to live but to revenge.
While we are shown little of how tedious the journey was for his fellow frontiers including the last two who abandoned him-young Jim Bridger (played by Will Poulter) and John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy), we are almost giving a minute by minute breakdown of the of agony Hugh Glass endured—crawling on frozen rocks and supporting his unbalanced walk with a stick for thousands of miles to revenge.
The ferociousness and beauty of the film largely take place during Hugh Glass’ journey; you are kept glued to the film literally because you want to see what would be the next horrendous thing to happen—as it never got better, and each time it unfolded, a distinct fear of the next going to be the end would hit.
Glass came close to having his throat pierced with an arrow several times—painfully escaping death. Even when he was not dodging arrows, he had the hostile weather to battle in his poor condition; he was frozen like a stone most times and had little to eat, yet had to move along on broken bones. While he was chasing for revenge, he was also being chased.
Hugh Glass’ horrors were convincingly presented and the images the film serves are staggering—and no one could have performed outstandingly great like Leonardo DiCaprio did.
It’s a film that delves into betrayal and revenge—and how these two can offer a superior sense of survival such that spending a night inside the ‘stomach’ of a horse does not seem that bad after all. It just becomes one of those hurdles that need to be jumped to achieve a goal.
The terror runs through the entire film and even when it seems to have all ended, just across the water sat helpless Hugh Glass facing those who he had been running away from all along.
DiCaprio and his director-Alejandro González Iñárritu succeed in presenting an extensive brutal story flawlessly and beautifully.