Some Bullet Points Concerning The Revenant, the Amazing HTFU Movie of the Year

Since I made a big deal about it when I first saw the trailer back in July, and one of my favorite poets once suggested I looked like I could be in the movie, I figure it’s probably worth my time to write out a few observations now that I’ve seen the film a couple times. Perhaps it will be worth your time to peruse them? If you’ve seen the film as well, I welcome your commentary. There are likely spoilers below, so keep that in mind.

  • If you snarkily refer to the movie as just “the most recent version of Dances With Wolves” or something inane like that, I’m here to tell you you’re a moron and are incapable of having intelligent discourse concerning movies that will likely be talked about for a long time, whether you like it or not.
  • If you’ve heard that the cinematography is mindblowing, or something along those lines, that’s because it is. If you haven’t heard that, let me tell you: the cinematography is mindblowing.
  • There are stretches of incredible excitement, but it is a slow burn of a film. If you don’t like slow movies, it might not be your thing. I like slow movies if they are also gripping, which this one is.
  • Be warned, it’s pretty damn violent too.
  • I don’t think you can really fake the hardships the actors went through and be believable. Which is why director Alejandro G. Iñárritu put them through such a difficult process. If you haven’t heard the stories of how rough the shoot was, work some google magic. Being a hardass was a good decision on Iñárritu’s part, because it makes for a compelling piece of art.
  • This movie truly is art, and it has its weaknesses. I left the theater wondering why I bother to go to shitty blow-everything-up movies, even though they’re (sometimes) fun. Watching and reflecting on The Revenant has made me completely question my approach to my own artistic endeavors, and that’s a good thing.
  • I could accept Tom Hardy winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor over Stallone in Creed, but I’d still be irritated.
  • The movie really isn’t anything at all like Michael Punke’s book. Entirely different scenes, different ending, the works. They are two completely different tellings of roughly the same story.
  • The bear attack scene is arguably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.
  • In fact, the entire movie is like a cautionary tale of all the horrifying ways one can die out in the types of landscapes I like to saunter around in, doing the types of things I most love to do.
  • The early fur trade in North America was a brutal, bloody business. Especially for the friggin’ beavers.
  • We take way too much shit for granted these days.
  • People who shrug that DiCaprio’s performance wasn’t that big of a deal because it was “only cold” or whatever have obviously never been outside of a climate-controlled environment for longer than it takes to waddle from the car to indoors. I’ve been cold; I like the cold. But this stuff was COLD, and that shit is terrifying and makes you act like a crazy person. In other words, the distance from “Whatever….” to “Fuck this!” is way, way shorter.
  • Whiners take note: just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Even if he had access to wifi, I doubt Hugh Glass would have dragged up social media and typed, “Wounds still sore, can hardly feel my hands.” Or, “Sigh. ANOTHER travel delay. Indians ran me off a cliff, spending another night out in the woods. Inside the body of my horse. Maybe I’ll get home SOME day.” HTFU, people. Please.
  • The whole subplot with Glass (DiCaprio) having a son isn’t part of the book, and I’m not sure it was necessary to add. Then again, the average movie goer probably wouldn’t buy the theft of a rifle, a knife, and some sundry equipment to be enough motivation to stiff-arm death and seek revenge. But in reality it was. Chalk it up to being one of those things that is too true to be believable as a storytelling frame.
  • The subplot with the kidnapping of the Indian woman, and the subsequent rape scene, etc. was totally unnecessary. In fact in a lesser film it would have been the turning point that made me ultimately give it a thumbs down. Again, I understand why they added it; my guess is it gave the story a reason for a band of Arikara Indians to be hunting white people in the wilderness. Again, different from the book. Cutting all that shit out and shortening the movie by a third probably would have improved it.
  • There were a couple too many dream sequences, but I did like the otherworldliness they created kind of hanging over the entire film, though.
  • The soundtrack is phenomenal too. I’ve been listening to the hell out of it. I’m listening to it now, in fact. I may never listen to rock n’ roll again.
  • I think the actions of all the various factions involved are portrayed honestly and fairly considering how shit was going down, as we know it, back then.
  • There were moments of clunky dialogue here and there, but folks painting it with a broad brush as being all terrible are simply wrong.
  • I liked it better the second time I saw it; I could just sit back and absorb it all without expectations. The first time I was too busy measuring its events against the events of the book. In fact, considering I read Peter Stark‘s fantastic Astoria at around the same time (another frontier book — 100% nonfiction — set in roughly the same time period), I kept getting events from the two books interchanged. Are you one of those people sneering and going all, “Like that could happen!” over The Revenant? I suggest then you read Astoria. The stuff those early people out on the frontier went through makes you wonder how anyone ever survived anything at all. We should all be extinct by now.
  • I’m pretty much in favor in all of us going extinct right now, frankly. It’s an election year, after all.
  • I think there are deeper meanings and symbols in this film that I haven’t mentioned, but that’s for film buffs to debate. I just like good movies. This is one of them, and it’s a good guarantee we don’t have to worry about a sequel.


3 thoughts on “Some Bullet Points Concerning The Revenant, the Amazing HTFU Movie of the Year

  1. Lauren

    I want to read this fully after I’ve read the book and seen the movie. I read parts, and I’m usually fairly ambivalent about spoilers, but I want to be able to discuss both with you after forming my own first impressions. Life being what it is I probably won’t be able to see it in the theaters, which is a bummer when a movie is this beautiful, but we do with what we’ve got. Thanks for this detailed post, I’m looking forward to digging in!

  2. Patti Abbott

    I liked the movie a lot more than I expected to. The subplots they added made the movie work for me so I guess the average viewer might need a more people -oriented rationale (son, kidnapped woman) for what occurs. Because of your knowledge you are a more sophisticated viewer than me.


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