The Revenant

I finally got round to watching this magnificent film.

And watching it is pretty much all you can do because the dialogue is so incoherent that it might as well be just another layer of noise in the astonishing soundscape. I don’t know if Tom Hardy (playing Fitzgerald) was attempting to hide an atrocious American accent or what, but he’d buried it deeper than the grave he digs for Glass.

The absolute star of this film is without doubt the landscape. Shot in ultra wide angle, you genuinely get a sense of the pitiless beauty and scale of it.

As much as I enjoyed the visual journey through the landscape there were too many attendant aspects about the film that irritated me along the way like so many biting mosquitoes. In fact they drove me so mad I had to write this blog post.

I’ll ignore any historical inaccuracies depicted because they won’t bother any viewer who is unfamiliar with them. What I will cover are the obvious stupidities in the story.

Cold is a killer. Anyone who has experienced snow knows how insidious it is, an hour in it is usually enough. If you fall into a freezing river you have minutes before you succumb to hypothermia and die.

In the film, Glass crawls out of a frozen river still suffering from his life threatening injuries sustained during a bear attack but he still manages to make a small fire and dry himself out and the bear skin cloak.

I was particularly amazed by all the handy gas burners conveniently situated just below the ground in various locations. At least that’s what I guessed they were because you don’t get a bright, dancing flame a foot high from a few small twigs. The only other possible explanation is that he was burning animal fat – but where did he acquire that in the wilderness and as a starving man surely he would have eaten it first?

In one scene, Glass is laying by a campfire that seems to be burning inside a snowdrift. All around him is a treeless flat plateau of snow. Where did the wood come from? And remember, this is a man who is supposed to be so injured he can barely walk.

The incident with the disembowelled horse forced me to put acro props under my disbelief to keep it suspended. The process of eviscerating a horse with a small knife must require as much effort as it does to build a shelter. The idea of the horse still being warm is absurd. Once the animal is dead, the heat would escape its body at the same rate as any cooked meat. So spending a night in it, naked (this symbolism of him being reborn was a touch too strained here) would produce hypothermia within hours.

The climax of the film contained the worst abuses.

Upon hearing of the possible survival of Glass, the captain of the fort orders a dozen men to go out into the wilderness and search for him at night using torchlight. Seriously?

Miraculously, they find Glass. The captain is furious at Fitzgerald and on returning to the fort they discover he has vanished after ransacking the safe.

Now, a safe is supposed to keep valuable things ‘safe’ so it’s usually difficult to get into. If any passing stranger can open the safe and take whatever they want from it then it’s not a safe, it’s a cupboard.

So we now have a vicious, remorseless man, heavily armed and desperate, loose in the wilderness. How many men does the captain muster to hunt him down? Er, two – himself and the barely recovered Glass. Bit odd that, why take a dozen men to search for a harmless survivor but only two to hunt down an armed desperado?

Inevitably, the two pursuers split up as they near their quarry and Fitzgerald murders the captain. Now it’s Glass, the expert guide and survivalist, versus Fitzgerald the mercenary.

Glass allows himself to be shot as he rides his horse through open territory. Fitzgerald approaches the body to investigate it whereupon Glass pops up from the other horse that carried the dead captain.

So a construction that needed to be strong enough to support a dead body in an upright position on a walking horse can be knocked over by a single bullet fired from a distance?

It gets worse.

After a struggle, Fitzgerald runs off and Glass gives chase but at one point is unable to decide which way he went. His tracking skills that formerly allowed him to follow footsteps in virgin snow to see where a quarry went have suddenly deserted him and he has to guess on the direction.

Iñárritu, the director of the film clearly wasn’t going to be distracted in his direction; he wanted a film about one’s man’s revenge against another man in all its stripped down brutality and he wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of it, especially the laws of physics or common sense.

It’s still a film worth watching though.


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