The Revenant: movie review from a naturalist point of view

Let me say right at the beginning that this film contains scenes that are violent, brutal, vicious, savage, aggressive, abusive, fierce, barbarous, barbaric, murderous, cruel…..well, you get the idea.

How could it be otherwise when our hero (played by Leonard Dicaprio)
– Barely escapes being slaughtered by Arikara Native Americans
– Is mauled by a grizzly bear after disturbing her cubs
– Is almost smothered by the villain
– Is almost buried alive by the villain
– Escapes from the Arikara by floating down rapids and over a waterfall
– Gallops off a cliff injuring himself further
Walt Disney this isn’t!
And this is more misery for Leonardo. In a celebrated 1997 movie, he freezes to death in the sinking of the Titanic.

So why would I go to a movie like this knowing that I would spend a fair percentage of it with my hands in front of my eyes?

The naturalist in me relished the opportunity of spending two and a half hours in the northern woods in winter.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Snow on the ground in every scene, dim natural lighting, snow storms, icy rivers, raging waterfalls, herds of bison being hunted by wolves, jack pine and aspen everywhere.

The film was shot in twelve different locations, mostly in Canada and the northern United States but, when the weather didn’t cooperate and provide deep snow for the finishing battle between hero and villain, the whole production moved to the southern tip of Argentina.

While it is true that the film couldn’t decide if it were a “coming back to life from near death” (in French “revenant”) film or a revenge film, it did transport me for an afternoon to the winter boreal forest of the early 1800’s.

And all that for a mere $7.50.

Miles Hearn


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