A Breath away from Death
Beams of sunlight glimmer on the water flowing around the ankles of trees…
*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*
The disturbingly melodic sounds of gunshots and spears…
*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*
The threateningly deviant drumbeats of dead horses and men…
*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*
A white man, obviously from the Academy Awards panel of judges, practises Yoga…
If I had to tell you what this movie is about – I would simply take a deep breath – and then exhale slowly.
Incredibly slowly in fact.
Then take in another breath, and breathe out again. And every time, I’d do it differently. The first time it’s raspy. Then it’s muffled. After that, I go for composed. Sometimes it merges seamlessly with the ambient soundtrack. You’ve heard about the ‘last breath’ a man takes before he dies. The Revenant is about a man who’s taking his last breath. Only, he doesn’t die after. He keeps pulling in more – one breath after another – dragging his will and his soul behind him – until all that’s left inside the cold harsh 18th century world he inhabits, is a burning desire to live. And to win an Oscar – perhaps.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. I salute and tip my coffin to you in respectful admiration. (EDIT: The Academy agrees.)
Emmanuel Lubzki. I am in denial of the possibility that your visionary brilliance is possible. (EDIT: The Academy agrees here as well. Maybe I should apply to be a part of the panel.)
Leonardo Di Caprio. I think you have more than earned the Academy Award you will undoubtedly get. I’ve readied additional coffins for those on the panel who think otherwise, just in case. (EDIT: He WON. He WON! I genuinely think he hasn’t won yet cause he almost always had genuinely talented competition. This year, he outdid his competition by a mile – and I’m elated the Academy thinks so as well. Guess I’m going to make furniture out of those coffins and call it modern art.)
And yet – to say only this much is doing this film a disservice of enormous magnitude. When the movie started – I was on the edge of my seat. Barely one-quarter through the movie –and I wasn’t sitting anymore at all. By the time it ended, The Revenant had exceeded expectations to such a degree –that I was numb with disbelief and awe. And that’s odd – cause I was already expecting brilliance from Inarritu. Why? Because he’s the guy who made Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful, Birdman (still wan’t me to go on?) – and each one of these is undeniably genius in it’s own regard.
And yet, by some miraculous feat – this movie was more than what I thought was humanly possible. Literally.
Is it long? I don’t know. Time isn’t a factor you consider when there’s bears mauling human beings, leaving them worse than after LOLkein’s attempts at humour. Is it incredibly difficult to digest? Only if you work for PETA and think fur is only for animals that don’t spell ‘Homo Sapien’. Is it realistic? Well, as real as the legend of Hugh Glass (the character Leo plays) and the chance of Leonardo actually winning an Oscar again after today actually is.
But if Innaritu was the gunpowder, and Lubzki the lethal rifle with the engraved wood – Leonardo was the bullet that hits the target.
And he hits it alright, and square between the eyes. In fact – and I hate myself for even suggesting this – Di Caprio acts so bloody well, that it’s almost easy to overlook the stone-hearted practicality that defines Fitzgerald, the character played by Tom Hardy. It’s like forgetting to give Christian Bale credit for his awesome performance in the Dark Knight because Heath Ledger was just too frighteningly crazy to let you notice anyone else.
The weird thing is though – Leonardo barely speaks throughout the movie.
Most of his communication is via a combination of deep breaths, grunts and impossibly complex facial expressions. The spit and mud and gore and grit he incorporates into the character is natural to the point of disbelief. You grimace when he does. You breathe a sigh of relief when he does.
It was as though Leonardo was conducting the audience like an Orchestra – poised and precise in every directive.
Just as you get used to the vivid imagery, and the brutal tug of war between man and nature – you start to see the beauty behind the pain. And get this – Inarritu wanted the movie to feel as natural as possible – so he decided to keep the movie free of external lighting. Yeah. Leaving one scene, the only light that makes it to the screen in the rest of the film is from the sun! The cinematography, therefore, is breathtakingly stunning. Lubzki, the ‘impossible’ guy I mentioned above, gets credit once again – for his impeccable choice of breath taking scenery in the film. I must also make special mention of the perhaps the most surreal opening shots I’ve witnessed on screen. There are sun-kissed forests with freakishly straight long trees – endlessly vast glaciers clothed in an unadulterated naked white – and peacefully violent rivers snaking between even wider expanses of bare overwhelming nature.
These are – quite simply – among the most stunning filmed landscapes in cinematic history.
Now I Thoth -…err… THOUGHT to myself – how can you make an already brilliant movie, with a visionary cinematographer and an impeccable actor better?
One word – Sound.
Shit – the soundtracks! They’re off the hook. Every score is a – build-up of sorts. Every melody a crescendo – increasingly going higher, and yet not overboard. Some were made up of natural sounds like that of a stream of water, trickling lightly into a pool below. Or the cackling of a fire – pleasant and warm. There was a darkness to the themes used – and an inspirational sadness that makes the ambient sounds a perfect match for the tonality of the film.
Now I can pretend to be a dead monk who’s trying to tell you what this movie experience is about – but who am I kidding? Not everything can be said in words – and sometimes, very rarely, even the best of us (namely me), can only end up being unjust when attempting to communicate such a stellar experience.
Sometimes – the only way to really know what a person has been talking about, is to witness it. In person.
Nothing– including the desk job in your office that makes you feel like you really matter to the world – you’re doing right now is worth missing this film. Stop breathing. Stop reading. Book your tickets. And surrender completely to this cinematic experience. It won’t be long before you realise that the only reason you’re breathless is cause ‘The Revenant’ has taken it upon itself to breath in your stead.
*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*- … -*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*- … -*Breathe in*… *Breathe Out*