On Iñárritu’s The Revenant (2015)

by Jennifer Valencia

Usually when I write reviews I take some time to put my thoughts together. I do research and make outlines. It often takes me a while to write. It’s a process that has worked well for me, but there are times I think I should reconsider this way of writing because I would like to post reviews more frequently.  After seeing The Revenant and having strong opinions on it, I thought I would just write freely.

The film was brilliantly shot. Using only natural light, the focus is on the story and characters. The forest stands strong and without judgement as the action takes place. Good or bad, wrong or right, the characters move through the landscape oblivious to their impact on it or each other, but always fully aware of its power. It’s a gorgeous looking movie even at its most violent.

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How do I really feel about this film? Outside of the awesome first scene reminiscent to the first scene in Saving Private Ryan made more brutal, but with weaponry of the time, I just didn’t care about the story. The whole time I sat there thinking, “What is the point?” Yes, it is a gorgeous film, but really all this film is is just another movie about a white man in the forest seeking revenge, oh and there just happens to be a group Pawnee natives too!

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Why is it that movies like this keep getting made? In some form or another you will find the same kind of movie being made over and over again. What about the more interesting story of the indigenous people? Or is it that North Americans just want to forget and not acknowledge that they basically stole this land from these people. Let’s not tell their stories so we don’t have to feel bad about what our forefathers did. How about acknowledge what your predecessors did and make amends by telling their stories. If you listen closely you will discover some fascinating stories that have never been told before and you might learn something new. It’s so fricken frustrating. I find it hard to belive that Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, a director from Mexico, can not find other stories to tell? I’m not saying it’s his duty as a Latino director to make films about Latinos or indigenous people, but I don’t understand why he chose to make THIS film when there are so many other stories out there to tell.

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My second beef about The Revenant is that I know Leonardo DiCaprio will mostly likely win his first Oscar for his role as Hugh Glass and he is going to win it for basically grunting for two and a half hours. Wtf! Out of all the roles in his career he is going to win for being beaten up by a bear, crawling and withering in pain, and speaking no louder than a whisper for most of the film.

You mean to tell me after his amazing performances in The Departed, The Aviator, The Great Gatsby, and The Wolf of Wall Street, just to name a few, he’s going to win for grunting? I am not saying he was bad in the film. He was great and was very convincing, but come on!

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You know who should win an Oscar? Tom Hardy! He is so great in the film as John Fitzgerald . You can just see the character unfolding into the murdering bad guy he becomes. You hear it every time he talks and in his slightest of expressions. I hope the Academy realizes that Leonardo didn’t fight an actual bear because that, my friends, would be the only reason DiCaprio should get an Oscar for this role.

Speaking of bears, the the bear was awesome. I have never been so terrified of a bear in my life. I’m not saying I wasn’t cautious about bears before. If I had run into a bear in the forest before seeing this movie I would have been scared shitless, but seeing that scene, seeing what a bear can do, and how he can basically make you a rag doll is enough to make me legit scared of bears all of the time. The bear should win the Oscar.

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GO BEAR!

I wish this film was so much more than it actually was. When Leonardo won the Golden Globe he ended his speech advocating for First Nations people and indigenous people around the world. He said that it was time we recognized their history. I am glad he said that in his speech, but we should take it a bit further and tell their stories because they are our stories too. I wish this movie had made that more apparent and did more than treat those stories as merely a backdrop for a film that has been seen over and over again by different means. It’s time we expanded our horizons and see that everyone has a story and all those stories shape who we are as a species. There is no us or them. We are all the same and all our stories and lives matter.

**************

jenn

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