DVD Review: The Revenant



After two hours and 36 minutes of watching Leo get mauled, clawed, eaten, beaten, stabbed, strangled, hacked, chased, shot at and betrayed, we vowed to never again complain about having to mow the lawn.

You’ll never again feel so soft, spoiled and under-toiled in the wake of this exhausting and exhaustive saga of agony and sorrows. The long-suffering Job of biblical fame was having a pedicure while eating a large bowl of rocky road ice cream compared to Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), the 1820s frontiersman left for dead after going two rounds with a grizzly bear and losing both on points.

Teasing aside, “The Revenant” is an enormously impressive tale of survival — physical and, in the end, spiritual. The cinematography is unfailingly gorgeous (the movie was shot in Canada, the USA and Argentina).

Themes of this harrowing tale are survival, revenge, integrity and the infinite indifference of the beautiful natural world. You make it, you don’t make it … no big deal.

Glass is the wilderness guide for a fur-trapping expedition somewhere in the unsettled West. The trappers have had a good run, but as they stack pelts at the river’s edge a band of Native Americans attacks with the suddenness and horrific effect of the opening minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” Decimated, the survivors stagger to their river boat, but the pursuit continues and they commence a trudge overland to the nearest fort.

DiCaprio is dialogue-free for most of the movie’s endless runtime. Crippled, freezing and alone, he acts with his face — eyes and mouth variously registering fury, wonderment, grief and, once, merriment.

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who won last year’s Oscar for the arty “Birdman,” indulges in metaphysics, flashbacks and the occasional dreamscape, which are fine if you have nothing else to do but irritating when you realize we passed the two-hour mark a long time ago.

Oh, one more thing: vegans be warned. These guys are meat eaters. Nor do they always wait for the meat to be cooked … or even deceased. They were made of tougher stuff back then. Probably mowed their lawns, uncomplainingly, with their Bowie knives.

Stephen Fay

Stephen Fay

Managing Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Fay, managing editor of The Ellsworth American since 1996, is a third-generation Californian. Starting out as a news reporter in 1974, he has been an editor since 1976, working in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont before settling in Ellsworth with his wife and two daughters. [email protected]

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