Every good word you have heard about The Revenant is deserved. It was almost an out-of-movie experience especially as you felt the cold and recoiled at the first arrow speedily entering through the Adam’s apple through to the back of the neck. But there are several moments when this poem to the landscape revealed it’s true self. These moments, for me, are part of the ‘immersive’ aspect of this film which is referred to in reviews and interviews. It’s down to the dogged direction of Alejandro G. Iñárritu who gave us a glimpse of his style in Birdman. I didn’t enjoy Birdman, his technique and the setting made it very claustrophobic which was obviously intended but for me it was a difficult watch. Here in the harshness and beauty of the great outdoors Iñárritu had the perfect canvas for his vision as did his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki [Birdman, Gravity, Children of Men].
Moment No.1 is seen many times in movies and it usually distracts me. The camera is behind an actor who is looking on a high ledge looking into the sun, the camera is pointing to what the actor can see. A lens flare occurs where a neat line of 3 or 4 dots bouncing off the sun onto the lens can be seen. It often happens in movies, a trivial thing but here, even though I did notice it, it did not take me ‘out of the film’. It enhanced the surrounding beauty which we were viewing and almost makes you put you hand over your eyes to shield the strong light.
Moment No.2 This is somewhat similar and perhaps another avoidable occurrence, something that perhaps another director would have rectified or was it that shooting was very much in the hands of the weather and the light that there was not another chance to re-do it. There was a scene where snow fell on the camera lens. Again it happens in other movies but here it made be feel colder almost tho the extent that I wanted shelter even though I had it.
Moment No.3 DiCaprio is is the ground crawling in agony due to his horrendous injuries. The camera is on exactly the same level as him and directly in front of him. Glass, DiCaprio’s part, is fighting for every breath he can breath. It’s painful and each breath gets longer and deeper than the last to the degree where his breath touches the camera lens and eventually it covers the entire frame. It was the most natural fade out from a scene at a point where you don’t know of he is going to live or die.
Moment No.4 This one I am sure was an accident but surely one which there was a decision to keep or not. In one of the fights Glass is struck in the face with a vicious looking knife, as the actor pulls away DiCaprio has a slash on his cheek and there is also a smattering of blood splashed onto the camera lens making you feel totally immersed in the fight.
Moment No.5 And this was totally manufactured [‘thought out ‘sounds better]. It’s the last scene where DiCaprio has succeeded in his mission and survived yet again. He looks all up at the sky, all around him and then stares defiantly straight into the camera almost as if to say ‘I am still here”. It’s the perfect ending.
Trivial as these five things may seem and regardless if manufactured or natural, they have stuck in my mind and perhaps meant more than they should but in this remarkable movie they enhanced my experience of it. Made it more real.
Will Poulter talking about Iñárritu’s directorial style,
“…. he makes us [actors] make-believe less”