“I ain’t afraid to die anymore, I done it already.”
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is a picky sort of guy. For his new western thriller, The Revenant, not only did he shoot entirely on location, in sequence, using natural light, but he also chose to shoot his follow-up to Birdman in snowy, -25 degrees conditions. Why? Because for him, it’s all about getting the best out of his actors, no matter the cost.
“If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit….When you see the film, you will see the scale of it, and you will say, ‘Wow.’ “
It’s not like it’d be the first time he’s elicited that particular response from his audience. His debut feature Amores Perros (2000) was instrumental in bringing forth the buena onda, or new wave, of Mexican cinema in the early noughties, alongside his friends and frequent collaborators Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón. The dark tale of the hardships of life placed him on the filmmaking map, and since then he’s gone on to numerous Oscar nominations, before winning the Best Director award in 2015 for Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
His films frequently delve into the psyche of the lead characters, placing them in dark territories psychologically, and pulling down the world around the characters through tragedy and loss. Whilst his filmography perhaps won’t go down as the most cheerful of line ups, it certainly has a good claim on being one of the hardest hitting groups of films you’re likely to come across. If Babel doesn’t move you enough, you can always follow up with the beautiful and incredibly touching 21 Grams, his first foray into Hollywood. Despite being the most critically successful of Iñárritu’s movies, Birdman is the odd one out in his back catalogue, bringing a greater range of comedic moments and levity to the forefront, alongside his more frequently employed tropes and psychological examinations.
For The Revenant Iñárritu is once again putting his characters through the wringer, with Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson and Leonardo DiCaprio filling in the lead roles:
In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (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 (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.
Whether The Revenant is the film which finally bags DiCaprio his long awaited Oscar remains to be seen, but as with Birdman star Michael Keaton before him, it seems likely that DiCaprio is in with a shot, all being well (though of course it’s too early to say with any degree of certainty). What we can assume at this point however is that The Revenant is going to be a visual tour de force. Having worked with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto on each of his first four feature films, Emmanuel Lubezki has since stepped in for Birdman (for which he won his second consecutive Oscar), and now The Revenant. The results are looking beautiful:
As a Happy Christmas to us from Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant releases on December 25th, 2015. Merry Christmas to all!….Too early?