Oscar season is in full swing, and one title many cinephiles have their eyes on is The Revenant, the latest movie from Birdman helmsman Alejandro González Iñarritu. It is inspired by the true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who seeks vengeance against those who left him for dead after he was mauled by a bear.
There's a review embargo on The Revenant until December 4, but early reactions to the film on social media have been extremely positive. Some pundits are even saying with confidence that this will be the role that (finally) lands DiCaprio his first Best Actor Oscar. Buzz for the movie is growing exponentially, and those interested in seeing it can get a taste of what to expect thanks to a new TV trailer (watch it above).
The spot is similar to the film's first theatrical preview, which focused more on the atmosphere of the project as opposed to setting up the narrative. With a pounding drum score playing over visceral imagery of Glass fighting for survival in the wilderness, it's clear that this is an intense tale that is decidedly not for the faint of heart. The sense of urgency conveyed in the commercial and prior trailers has helped The Revenant's marketing leave a strong impression with audiences, meaning it probably won't be overlooked when it reaches theaters.
Iñarritu used rather ambitious techniques to shoot the film. Principal photography went on for an extended period of time, taking place in the freezing locale of remote Calgary with natural light the only source that illuminated the scenes. While the cast and crew had a rather unpleasant experience, Iñarritu feels his methods will make for a better final product, saying over the summer the approach would allow viewers to appreciate the scale and scope of The Revenant. There's no denying that the visuals are very striking and should look great on the big screen.
DiCaprio was pushed to his limits during production, telling Yahoo in October that "30 or 40" sequences from the film rank among "the most difficult things I've ever had to do." As part of his performance, he was required to do unconventional things like sleep in animal carcasses and eat raw bison liver. But DiCaprio was always up for the challenge, since he was motivated to be part of something so unique amidst a flurry of big studio franchise tentpoles:
"It’s a very linear and simple story, but it doesn’t have all the formulaic plot points [found in] a lot of films have coming out of the studio system. What’s interesting to watch, as television becoming that much better, I think a lot of these stories are going to be going toward television. Television is better than it’s ever been in history. A lot of stories are being pushed — because of how complicated they are to make —toward Netflix and other channels on cable. But we’re going to see whether or not movies like this can survive anymore."
The actor's comments should not be construed as anti-commercialism (he's going to be in line for Star Wars: The Force Awakens like the rest of us), but a representation of his desire to make sure there's room for all kinds of movies in the film industry. As an A-list talent, DiCaprio is one of the rare personalities in Hollywood with the clout to get a project like this off the ground (The Revenant was in development hell for years). Time will tell his his drawing power can make the movie a hit at the box office, but it looks like it will be an unforgettable experience for anyone who sees it.
The Revenant opens in limited release on December 25, 2015. It will expand nationwide on January 8, 2016.
Sources: 20th Century Fox, Yahoo