From PASTO, COLOMBIA-Via: L. A. CA; CALI, COLOMBIA+ORLANDO, FL
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This Review is dedicated to my student and dear friend, Luisa Bacca, who has played a key role in focusing International Attention on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, especially here in Nariño, as a mediator in the ongoing Peace Process between the U. N. High Commission on Human Rights and the Colombian Government!
Leonardo DiCaprio, upon his acceptance of his Golden Globe, used the occasion to express his concern for indigenous peoples and their portrayal in movies. At the time, this seemed a bit difficult to put into context, but now that I have seen the film, it is crystal! And I think there are basically 2 ways to react to REVENANT... A straight up, grizzly (No Pun Intended!) true-story Man vs. Nature Action/Adventure, take it exactly as it is reaction, or, an infinitely nuanced "This Movie is a Metaphor" approach Need it be said that I am most certainly an Option B person!?!?
That having been said, REVENANT is such an astoundingly overwhelming experience, it is a tad difficult to decide on a starting point! Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu shows himself to be the perfectionist he is, via the numbing, jaw-dropping beauty of the filming locations that provide the numerous impressive visual backdrops seen throughout. The list of locations includes Tierra del Fuego, Mexico, and various U. S. and Canadian ones! As to the veracity of the "True Story" aspect of this harrowing tale, who knows? Wikipedia mentions that Frontiersman Hugh Glass' (Definite Oscar-worthy performance by Leonardo DiCaprio) life and accomplishments were often prone to embellishments, and Punke's 2002 Novel apparently plays fast and loose with the truth. Aside from just what IS true and what isn't, Gonzalez Iñárritu has permeated every frame with a level of reality that is truly chilling, both literally and figuratively!
The U. S. was a relatively young country in the 1820's; A vast, mostly untamed and rapidly expanding nation that had doubled its territory just 20 years earlier through the Louisiana Purchase. REVENANT unfolds clearly accentuating the uncertainties of life in the Missouri Territory, where the only existing technological implement in your daily existence was your firearm! Oh, and probably, in Captain Henry's case, a pocket watch, one would imagine! Their fur gathering/trading expedition comes under surprise attack (Was there any other kind back then?) by considerable numbers of Arikara Indians, who consider their actions as justified, since, in their opinion, it is the trading expedition that is trespassing on Arikara territory.
After both suffering and inflicting heavy losses, the expedition's survivors manage to raft away to safety. After cautiously biding their time on the river, they finally return to terra firma. Soon after, Hall has his ill-fated encounter with a grizzly bear, who, instinctively, simply was protecting her cubs. This scene is, quite honestly, spoiler-proof! No written words could "ruin" it for you! It is a bone-chilling vision that you really must experience for yourself! Most certainly, you will be scratching your head, as I and most others were, wondering "Just how in the hell did they do that?" Apparently, A Man In the Wilderness (1971) was also inspired by Hugh Glass and his ordeal...But I never saw it! There is a 1972 film, which came to mind a few times while viewing REVENANT: JEREMIAH JOHNSON, A Sydney Pollack Classic with Robert Redford in the title role!
Some of you might be wondering, about now, if there will be any reference to elements mentioned in this review's title. Not to worry! My Review title should be "crystal", too, if you take the dualistic viewing approach mentioned early on here. To avoid crossing the Spoiler threshold, let it suffice to say that taking REVERANT in its entirety, it seems to speak to putting our treatment of indigenous peoples in the U. S. into some kind of more rational perspective. Personally, I found the ending to be rather spiritual and uplifting!... Maybe it's just me!
10********** ..... ENJOY! / DISFURTELA!
Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Espanol, are most welcome!