The Revenant is Alejandro González Iñárritu's followup to his Best Picture Oscar winning film Birdman, with Leonardo DiCaprio headlining as the mountain man Hugh Glass (based on the real-life historical figure of the same name). Glass' story was also the inspiration for the 1971 film Man in the Wilderness, as well as Michael Punke's book "The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge"; Iñárritu's movie is partially based on the latter, though it reportedly takes significant liberties with both Punke's novel and Glass' actual experiences.
It's already been reported that production on The Revenant was, in its own way, as tumultuous as what happened to Glass (more on that later). However, if the teaser trailer and the newly-released images released for the movie are any indication, the harsh and challenging process of making the project has given rise to a visually gorgeous survival drama/thriller that examines the dark side of human nature on the big screen in a fittingly grisly fashion.
Here is the official synopsis for The Revenant:
Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.
The new Revenant stills - captured by Gravity and Birdman's Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki - show DiCaprio as Glass, alongside newcomer Grace Dove Syme as the Pawnee Indian woman whom Glass marries and has a son with (the latter being a character invented for the film). Additionally, included here are a couple of the eye-catching visuals featured in The Revenant's first trailer - which includes Glass alongside a massive pile of Buffalo skulls that (spoiler?) is from a dream sequence - along with a nice portrait of Hardy as Fitzgerald (who seems to serve as the human antagonist of the movie's narrative).
Check out these new official screenshots from the film (via Yahoo! Movies):
The Revenant's difficult principal photography process - one that stretched several months longer than originally expected and allegedly caused the project's budget to swell past $95 million (possibly as high as $135 million) - can largely be attributed to Iñárritu's decision to shoot the movie in remote areas of Calgary, under freezing temperatures and using nothing but natural lighting. THR released an article detailing the film's production this past summer, along with the following statement from Iñárritu about why he didn't rely more on CGI and digital-era filmmaking techniques (even given the strain that his directorial style took on his cast and crew, while also having other side effects):
"That's exactly what I didn't want. If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of s**t... When you see the film, you will see the scale of it. And you will say, 'Wow.' "
Iñárritu's approach to making The Revenant is an extreme example, but the Hollywood industry (as a whole) seems to be shifting away from relying too heavily on digital era tools - in many case, finding new ways to combine them with comparatively old-fashioned practical filmmaking techniques, instead.
George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road earned much critical acclaim this year, in particular for how it blends practical stunts and set pieces (see its post-apocalyptic vehicles) with CGI elements. Meanwhile, such upcoming tentpoles as Sam Mendes' Spectre (watch this practical effects featurette, for case in point) and J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens (for more on that subject, watch the film's SDCC 2015 footage reel) are likewise utilizing a mixture of real-life locations and practical sets with digital trickery. So again, The Revenant isn't the only late 2015 release that's getting its hands dirty during production, so to speak.
To be clear, Iñárritu is going a step further here, though, so whether that will be for better or worse remains to be seen. A second trailer for The Revenant has been classified by the MPAA and should be available for viewing online sometime over the next few days, before it is shown in front of select screenings of Ridley Scott's The Martian (which, like The Revenant, is being distributed by 20th Century Fox), starting this Friday, October 2nd. Check back on Screen Rant to watch the trailer, once it arrives!
The Revenant begins an Oscar-qualifying limited theatrical release on December 25th, 2015; it expands nation-wide on January 8th, 2016.