Birdman was one of my favorite films of the year, and it’s director Alejandro González Iñárritu is set to follow it up with quite a bang, with his wilderness survival and revenge thriller The Revenant. The film has an all star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter. Based on the true story the film tells the story of a fur trapper named Hugh Glass who was viciously attacked by a bear while out in the wilderness. When he is found by the rest of his group, apparently including the other three actors I just mentioned, they decide to take him for everything he has and leave him to die painfully.
Well, Hugh Glass does not die, and The Revenant will tell the story of his survival from this brutal endeavor, and then the subsequent story of his epic journey to find his former friends and make them pay for leaving him for dead. We intentionally didn’t do too much more research on the true story, as we’d like to let the film tell the rest, but what we’ve presented here is certainly enough to ignite some excitement. It will be a bit of a new look for Leo, as we can see from a couple pictures that he is certainly channeling his inner Grizzly Adams for this one.
Despite the incredible cast signed on for the film, the most interesting thing for me is imagining what Iñárritu is going to do with the project. The cinematography and unique deliver of Birdman was so incredible and artistic, but was mostly within the confines of a single building, or at most, the city streets. Here, he’s going in the complete opposite direction, taking on a project that focuses completely on the wilderness and the outdoors. Of course, beautiful scenery and wilderness offers a number of great possibilities for such a talented director, but likely also some challenges. I hunted down an interview with the director on Deadline where he speaks to these challenges, and the unique way he’s been forced to film the movie, with very small shooting windows within the inhospitable climates at the location in Calgary. Check out a segment of the Deadline article here:
“We don’t finish until the end of April or May, and we are shooting very small hours,” he said. “It was planned this way, to be little-by-little jewel moments; that’s the way I designed the production. That was both to create intensity in this moments, as well as the climate conditions. We are shooting in such remote far-away locations that, by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40% of the day. But those locations are so gorgeous and so powerful, they look like they have never been touched by a human being, and that’s what I needed. The light is very reduced here in winter, and we are not shooting with any electrical lighting, just natural light. And every single scene is so difficult — emotionally, technically. I’ve gotten myself in trouble again, but I’m trying my best,”
This is an interesting take, and the point about it being so difficult to get to the locations that it takes up half the day just travelling suggests that the wilderness portrayed in the movie will be about as close to completely genuine as is humanly possible. Credibility and authenticity are factors that can be hugely important in these films, and when creating a unique movie experience. Based on his work on Birdman, I’m sure he’s interested in doing just that, which is why he’s taking these challenging steps. Collider even mentioned in an article of their own that Iñárritu was willing to add an additional $7 million to the budget in order to allow them to shoot the scenes in the chronological order they are written. This is something that is pretty rare due to it’s challenging nature, but is another example of his unique approach and belief in making the most authentic film possible. I love that and I think it is part of what makes him one of the most exciting film makers around right now.
The Revenant is set for a Christmas 2015 release, and it is not yet known who will play the vicious bear!