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Revenant, The (Blu-ray Review)

22 Apr, 2016 By: John Latchem

$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD
Box Office $183.29 million
Rated ‘R’ for
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter.

A “revenant” is a person who has returned from the dead, which is an apt description of the journey of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in this movie. As far as the film’s setting, the word “reverent” seems more appropriate, when applied toward the winter forests and rivers that dominate the frame.

The filmmakers spend much of the film’s bonus materials wistfully reflecting on the pristine wilderness on display, lamenting that industrialization has made such lands harder to find. One wonders if they would be as equally enthusiastic about living in a pre-industrial time, judging by the harsh realities of life as an 1820s fur-trapper depicted here.

DiCaprio, whose jet-setting reputation owes much to technological prowess, at least embraced the nature of his part, reportedly getting into character by personally experiencing many of the hardships of his character (doing whatever it took, it seems, to finally take that Best Actor Oscar).

The film is loosely based on the real-life Glass, a tracker who was mauled by a bear and left for dead by his fur-trapping buddies while on the run from attacks by local Indians. The film provides Glass a fictitious half-native son to set up a revenge plot and give Glass extra motivation to fight through his wounds in search of the villainous John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) for betraying him.

The bulk of the running time thus features DiCaprio running through the wilderness for the better part of two-and-a-half hours, eating raw fish and birds to survive, while avoiding Native American marauders, French hunters and other dangers.

Aside from the gritty realism that permeates modern filmmaking, the basic story is evocative of the kind of movie John Wayne might have starred in 60 years ago.

The scenery is inarguably beautiful, famously shot in natural light by DP Emmanuel Lubezki, who won his third-consecutive Oscar for cinematography (after Gravity and Birdman).

Speaking of back-to-back Oscars, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s directing trophy a year after Birdman made him the first to accomplish that feat since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949 and 1950 for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve.

Movie buffs seeking more fodder should note that Will Poulter is playing Jim Bridger, the real-life mountain-man mentioned as an ancestor of Brad Pitt’s Nazi hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

The only extra on the Blu-ray is the 40-minute “A World Unseen” documentary previously available online. The program offers a good deal of insight into the making of the film, while at the same time peppered with a liberal dose of environmental messaging along the lines of Leo’s Oscar’s acceptance speech.

About the Author: John Latchem

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