Evgenia Kalyabina

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The Revenant (2015) film review


Last saturday I’ve finally watched The Revenant! I was really looking farward to watch it for a while not only because it is a movie Leo DiCaprio will probably will finally win the oscar for but because it was also made by last year’s Academy Award winner director Alejandro Inarritu (who’s film Birdman (2014) I absolutelly loved)! Well, I guess I was sort of comparing The Revenant to Birdman while I was watching it. What I can say is that a lot of shots are quite similar – long takes and there were some scenes (like the bear fight which I think will become iconic) when camera is in motion all the time and there are no cut. Surely that type of takes are really hard to do, and I understand that now after being on actuall set. I just kept asking myself – where the people are (camera crew, sound people, director himself)? Still a mystery to me.

Constant camera movement I think makes the audience be involved a bit more. It’s not like just watching a play in the theatre with 3 walls and the stage lights. The camera motion (especially in this film) gives the audience 360 angle and you can toatlly see everything. The other interesting thing that I think has broken the 4th wall was those effects on camera when it was getting to close to people with breathing visible and water drops on screen in the action scene.

The cinematographer must have had very hard time shooting this movie… I guess the camera was really sensetive too, otherwise some of the scenes would be simply impossible to shoot. I’m still thinking if those guys have actually used any artificial lighting of if everything was made using natural light sorces. I guess the main mistery to me are the scenes with the torches in the woods and the fire lighting up caves and dome-like places. Ever since the animation project last year I know how hard it is to lit a cave and where did the people fit again?

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Quite a lot of shots were about nature. I think it’s not just the story about the survival of one man but also abot humans talikng over nature. The world must have been really tough that time. Wild animals, weather – it is almost unbelievable that places like that are still somewhere in the world. I really liked the locations chosen. The interesting thing about the camera angles and the nature is that if feels like the nature swallows humans, like it the main thing, the other character in the story. Usually, when you have a very low positioned camera and shoot people from below it means that the character is in power, that he takes over the shot. Here – the trees and hills are much higher than humans.

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I was actually comparing this sort of National Geographic imagery and it’s usage within the film with the same (ish) ideas in Macbeth (2015) that I saw earlier this year. I really liked the nature and it’s usage in that one as well and I had a very interesting discussion about that kind of footage in Macbeth with Alekko before. After watching The Revenant I think I can agree that I feel a better connection between the characters and the universe they are living in in this film rather then the same thing in Macbeth. However, there are 2 different stories. But I see the point now.

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Another type of shot that I really liked was sort of tilted angle on the action. As the camera is almost always in motion it was not the still type of shot either and it was usually used within the series of actions when it is really intence and it goes for quite uncomfortable close-ups and the emotions look even more intence. That is quite an unusual thing I think to have such angles.

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The main colours are of course naturalistic with a cold blue/grey tint because the action happens over the winter time. However there is such an interesting feature in the film as flashback (plus couple of halucinations of the main character) which are of different colour and of different light effect. They have a distinct broun colour palette.

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What I also noticed that there was no narration in the film. It is not like there was no voice-over though – there was some native american speaking (voice of Hue Glass’s dead wife) but all other emotions of the character were only exposed by the silent acting. I think that was beautiful. Again, only other comparisson (no comparisson at all to be honest) I can think about is Hunger Games series where there was no narrative either but I think the main acting has failed to expose all the ideas and emotions of the character…

And, some more beautifull stop-frames from the movie

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