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MOVIES: The Revenant - Review: "Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar Win"

19 Jan 2016

The life of the American frontiersman, fur trader, and trapper, Hugh Glass' is continued in the latest telling of his dramatic story. Man in the Wilderness was loosely based on Hugh Glass' life which starred Richard Harris as Zachary Bass but The Revenant follows Glass more closely as he quests for survival but also revenge.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu's directs the inconceivable ordeal of fur trapper Hugh Glass as he claws his way across thousands of miles of wilderness after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by the same men he was sent out to guide. Glass also has to watch, incapacitated and unable to help, his son stabbed to death by his fellow frontiersmen Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

Before all that, the events leading up the savage bear attack are shown. Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) leads a hunting party of fur trappers into the Louisiana wilderness, but they are shortly ambushed and attacked by Pawnee Indians seeking the pelts to sell to the French in exchange for horses and guns to hunt for Powaqa - the daughter of the leader of the Pawnee. In a gut-wrenching and bloody battle, Henry loses nearly all his men and all the pelts they've worked so hard go make. Henry and the remaining men including Fitzgerald (Hardy), Bridger (Will Poulter), Anderson (Paul Anderson), Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and Glass (DiCaprio) make it to their boat and manage to escape.

Henry relies heavily on Glass' expertise to get them back to their home base up in the Mountains, but Fitzgerald questions several of his decisions including abandoning the boat and leaving the few pelts they retained behind. Fitzgerald is set up early on as Glass' foe by verbally insulting and questioning him and his background and that was needed in order to establish the clash between them.

Glass then gets savagely mauled by a bear, in what was one of the most shocking scenes I've ever witnessed in a film. It was a horrifically grisly experience to see, but since this is a true story about Glass, it had to be presented in a bloody manner so the film can, at least, try to comprehend the experience endured by Glass. Glass is barely alive, but Henry says they won't leave him behind. After doing the best he can, he saves Glass' life and orders his men to carry him. But, when conditions get worse, he has no choice but to go back on his word and leave Glass behind.

Henry acknowledges the fact that without Glass they would have died several times so asks three men to remain behind to give him a burial after he passes. Bridger and Hawk (Glass' son) volunteer to remain back and so does Fitzgerald, but for greed not kindness - with a reward for those three men. After growing restless, Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass. But Glass then suffers a fate worse than death by watching his son murdered by his fellow frontiersmen after trying to stop Fitzgerald. Glass gets his revenge though in a final showdown with Fitzgerald which was one of the heart-pounding moments in the film as both broken men fought for their future. It was brilliantly choreographed and was as intense as it sounds. The end result though was fitting to what the show was trying to represent.

DiCaprio delivers a sensational performance as Glass as he lingers on the borders of both life and death. DiCaprio's role relies more on the physicality, mentality and emotional side of things than the script itself, but that's what will surely give the 6 time Oscar nominee his first win. It's heartbreaking to watch Glass struggle to move and do anything. For a good part of the film, Glass has to crawl and watching that was a visual reminder of what the crew and cast went through to make this film. They went to extreme lengths to make this feature, putting themselves in hellish conditions, but from the outcome of the film, I don't think DiCaprio, Hardy or all the others would have made it any other way.

Glass has to sleep in a carcass of a horse, eat a raw liver in his shaky and trembling hands and flee from the natives who keep trying to hunt and kill him and that's just the tip of his experiences. It felt so real as if I was actually watching real life footage of what happened to Glass in 1823 and that's why I found it so engrossing. This could well be one of the best re-imaginings of a true story ever developed for film.

DiCaprio wasn't the only performer to excel in this film, though. Whilst he was the star of the film, Hardy, in particular, played the role of Fitzgerald to near perfection. He was a menacing and heartless individual and you could see that from Hardy's tough and livid portrayal. He earns his Oscar nomination and dare I say it, is my pick to beat Stallone to best supporting actor.

Will Poulter also shined as Bridger and is definitely proving why he is one of Hollywood's rising stars. I see an Oscar with his name on it in a few years. Bridger struggled to cope with betraying Glass, and this gave Poulter room to rely on acting with just his emotions and not his words. Though Poulter did well with the scenes that he got, I did want to see more of Bridger throughout the film. He is one of the greatest trappers to ever live, and I just wanted to know more about him.

The film itself is visually gorgeous and that is down to the brilliant work done by Emmanuel Lubezki. The film is breathtaking and every little detail from the wounds to the incredible scenery looked perfect and real. It did last a little too long and at times it became predictable such as Captain Henry's death, but that shouldn't take away from what a triumph the film is in both acting and directing. The Revenant has taken the film industry to a whole new level, and this might just go down as one of film's greatest achievements.

It would be a travesty to both acting and the academy itself if DiCaprio doesn't win his Oscar. He put everything he has on the line, gave his all. This was his toughest film to make physically and mentally and he should be honoured for that. And in no disrespect to the other nominees, their performances don't come close to DiCaprio's. It would be the biggest upset in Oscar history if he loses. 9.5/10

As always, thank you for reading. Let me know in the comments what you thought of The Revenant!

About the Author - Robert Fruin
Robert is a sixth form student from the United Kingdom, currently studying Business Studies, IT and Media. Robert is a huge fan of the ended ABC series LOST; he has seen it many times over and has even visited some of the filming locations for it. Robert mainly watches drama series such as Game of Thrones and Person of Interest, but has a soft spot for the comedy The Middle. Some other interests include Cycling, Kayaking and Photography. Robert joined SpoilerTV in 2014 and currently reviews Colony, Outlander and The Bastard Executioner. He also previews Ash vs Evil Dead, Black Sails and Counterpark and runs weekly articles such as Most Memorable Moments and Quote of the Week. You can contact him at or feel free to connect with him on any of these social media sites.
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