Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Revenant (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Revenant

The much anticipated Best Picture Nominee "The Revenant" by Alejandro Inarrito has arrived. This Gothic epic about the life of Hugh Glass, an ambitious trapper, in 1823 is nothing less than a rapidly moving interpretation of the paintings of Charles Marion Davis, the legendary painter of The Old West.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Glass, a bearded, driven man who mentors his son and the people who work under him. When his group is ambushed by Native Americans, Glass becomes separated from the camp and he is attacked by a bear.

It shows no mercy.

As our furry Ecce Homo frontiersman is soaked in blood and nearly comatose, Glass's buddy John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy)  argues with Glass's son (Forrest Goodluck) whether to deliver a fatal mercy act to his associate or leave him for dead.  When the son raises a fuss Fitzgerald shoots him. The disabled Glass can only seethe with a sputtering rage.

This starts a dog eat dog fight for survival.

DiCaprio has never been better as the anxious and resillient father who will do anything to live and make things right. He is up for the Best Actor Oscar. Tom Hardy for his part completly inhabits this callous and petty man who cares nothing for anyone.

On one level this is a revenge story in the realm of "High Noon" or "The Unforgiven." But the film also has deeply poetic moments where nature brims with life but is silent in judgment. Hugh Glass encounters death sign after death sign. In one scene, he faces a tremendous mound of skulls. The trapper is living in a realm dictated by a natural Tarot. Unfazed, Glass moves on and so does the film. Despite its near three hour running time, there is nothing superfluous or unneccesary in this tale. And although very different from "Dances with Wolves," it is no less philosophical in showing an earth that is steadfast, patient and always carnivorous. Glass is in a left in a tango of terror coupled with circumstances that are not of his making. The monstrous Montana and nasty North Dakota of the 1800s is amoral and without preference; it is of no consequence if Glass perishes or lives another day. Cacophony and suffering lie in wait.

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