Inspired by true events, “The Revenant” is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (played by Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. “The Revenant” is directed and co-written by Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu. Here is what DiCaprio had to say about making “The Revenant.”
What made you want to be a part of “The Revenant”?
It was really only when Alejandro came aboard and made the screenplay his own, and really became attached to the material in this epic journey of survival. And the way he wanted to shoot it became an exciting prospect for me because he’s really a unique filmmaker. He’s really one of a kind. I knew it would take that type of director who gives you that truly immersive experience as an audience member.
How would you describe Alejandro González Iñárritu’s style and approach to filmmaking?
He’s really developed his own approach and his own style to making movies over the years that has become synonymous with only him. There are very few filmmakers out there now who I can believe do that: make a true mark and not really fit into the sort of Hollywood mold, and accomplish films like this on an epic scale.
What about his process and preparation?
His process is very unique. Not many filmmakers do what he does. A lot of it is trial and error. A lot of it has to do with Chivo [the nickname for Emmanuel Lubezki], who is his cinematographer, who is really intrinsically a part of his process. Those two really immerse themselves in the material. There’s a very extensive rehearsal period where all the actors get together and coordinate these very complex movements and shots.
What would you say was the goal of “The Revenant” filmmakers?
I think what they quite uniquely achieve — especially in this film — is this almost-virtual reality, where you really feel like you’re out in the elements with these characters. You feel immersed in their lives, but he’s also able to have the camera move all the way through the wilderness but stop at very intimate moment with the character, and then move on. You almost feel like a strange, delusional wanderer watching all this chaos ensue.
And you get the visual perspective of the character in the movie, but it’s very subconscious. It’s not overt. And to me, that’s the best, most interesting thing about their process. That’s what you want, as an audience member. You want to be able to immerse yourself in an entirely different world.
How would you describe Hugh Glass?
Hugh Glass is stuff of legend around the American campfire. He’s a real Paul Bunyon-type of character. He’s a man that survived extreme elements and was left to die by his hunting crew and buried alive and crawled through the American wilderness on his own for hundreds of miles through the dead of winter to seek revenge on the men who had done him wrong.
He’s part of American folklore, but he’s a real person, and these things really did happen. But I think, more than anything, what Alejandro wanted to do was create poetry in that story: the poetry of having all the chips stacked against you, to have very little chance of survival, and there’s a triumph of the human spirit, what we can endure and what we go through. And what Hugh Glass realizes on that journey is that revenge is really what will quench his thirst at the end of the day.
What can you say about the relationship that Hugh Glass has with his son in “The Revenant”?
The unique set of challenges he has and his son has growing up in an environment like that is an undertone through the movie. It’s never overt, it’s never spoken, but you get the essence that these people need to remain quiet. They’re isolated, and they’re alone in this world.
So the father/son bond becomes a very powerful thing, because he needs to teach his son to disappear, to not be there. “Just keep your head down and focus on what you need to do.” So he is essentially somebody who is working with fur trappers to earn a living and to survive, but there’s a lot of racial conflict brewing already.
His whole objective with his son is, “Look, we have this will to survive. We’re going to push through it no matter what.” These are things he instills in his son at a very early age, through a lot of tragedy. And these same messages he instills in his son are things he needs to ultimately realize for himself when he’s left alone in wilderness with very little chance to survive.
For more info: “The Revenant” website