Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘The Revenant’ Is A Powerful Cinematic Gift For Leonardo DiCaprio And Tom Hardy

Enough can’t be said about Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest. The Revenant is bold, focused, and mysterious. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu crafted a cinematic symphony. It doesn’t shy away from the brutal, harsh truth that pioneering early Americans faced. It offers that reality in a way more visceral than a movie of any subject matter is likely to do this year.

The Revenant will not only outshine Birdman, it will be Inarritu’s masterpiece film. If he or any other filmmaker can do better than this in 2016, a year packed with superhero and other action movies, then that will definitely merit more than a mere award. This is the type of filmmaking likely to turn cinema back to a time before Iron Man and the Avengers took grip. It makes a good case for filmmaking that doesn’t depend on a preexisting franchise or a comic book following.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy dance among a palate of nature, beautiful winter rivers and streams. As The Hollywood Reporter details, the visual interest in the movie in and of itself, is otherworldly and complete. The environment of natural light, early mornings, and struggles through winter’s awesome blistering temper are so rich as to provide a soulfully satisfying landscape on which to prop up the main storyline.

What people will likely ask after seeing this amazing survival story is how true it is. How accurate was Inarritu’s depiction of Hugh Glass? But The Revenant is based on a novel, which is based on a true story. Inarritu explained how the truth is an approximation, since the early 1800s didn’t have official historians documenting what took place in the wild. Most of Glass’s story was passed down through legend. It’s possible the real-life ordeal was even more incredible than the feelings you get watching such a movie.

This is a type of movie that merits repeated viewing of DVD and Blu-ray extras. How did Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ponder upon such scenes and manage to bring them to life with exactitude? How real were the struggles of Leonardo DiCaprio, having to act in seemingly isolated scenes of snow covered forests? And did he feel anything like the pain he experiences on screen?

As the Centre Daily Times reports, Inarritu and his production team used real life Native Americans, not only to act but also to guide the production. A North Dakota man named Loren Yellow Bird helped DiCaprio and company speak the languages of America’s earliest inhabitants. Yellow Bird is an Arikara, part of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, which comprise Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara peoples. He was flown to the various natural locations that the movie utilized to be technical adviser. He also helped during post production to ensure the language and voices were just right, and he even provided voice-over in a couple scenes. Thank him for Leonardo DiCaprio’s deft use of Native American speech.

The most prominent on screen Native American actor in Inarritu’s film, Forrest Goodluck, is also a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, as well as having Navajo and Tsimshian tribal memberships. He played DiCaprio’s son.

This movie puts the groups of people it shows among the same complex society. No race or creed is really given villain status, but is shown as part of one dynamic. That dynamic consists of people striving for survival within the early environment, economy, and that ever looming danger of war. Whether Pawnee, American, French, or Sioux, there is none put above the other. Inarritu isn’t making this easy on audiences. Everyone is trying to survive, with one particularly unnerving case given focus. But in parallel, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s story showcases the world of hardship before modern comforts and technologies were pervasive. Not to tell you that it’s better nowadays, but to not forget how different it was.

[Photo via 20th Century Fox]