The Revenant

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The Revenant

Post by Willy »

Last week I went to the cinema to watch the famous film "The Revenant" starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the oscar winning film in Hollywood. Oscar winning ... that's for sure. That's what the media have predicted. And knowing that the media are very powerful nowadays!

The story of the film: "A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team". I was interested in the story and wanted to know if Leonardo DiCaprio really deserves the oscar for best actor.

Green screen key?
First of all the fight with the bear was very spectacular. I wondered how they have filmed that fierceful fight. I guess in green screen key, but it would be interesting to see how they really filmed it. I would like to see "the making of". Maybe the bear jumped onto a pray and the pray was replaced by Leonardo in green key?... I must say it was fabulous. I also enjoyed the dolby digital sound. The screen was very big and maybe there were about 300 to 500 seats in room 11 (out of 12) in Utopolis, the cinema centre in our nearest town, the City of Mechelen. There were only a few people at 2pm. Good to enjoy the atmosphere.

I enjoyed DiCaprio's acting, but actually he didn't have to say much in the film. He only had to undergo the actions without talking, shouting or crying. A very spectacular scene was the one in which Leonardo cut open the belly of a horse. It was freezing. It was snowing. The weather was awful. I have read that the filming took place when it was minus 40 degrees Celsius. Maybe a bit exaggerated saying this. Anyway the conditions were very hard. I would not be able to hold my camera in my hands. DiCapro removed the intestines and crept into the open belly to keep warm. Very ingenious, isn't it?

The photography was superb. I enjoyed the settings very much. The "temperature" of the light was impeccable. After the film my wife Vera said that the story was too long, even too boring. Perhaps she is right. So actually we behaved like judges at a competition. Vera is very hard in her criticism sometimes. I am too soft. Do not tell her that I have written this.

There is one thing about Hollywood. Not any black actor was nominated for an oscar. Is this justified? I have my doubts. That's not normal. The best actor ever was Sidney Poitier in "To Sir with Love" in my opinion. I watched it in the sixties or seventies. I loved "The Revenant", but I still prefer everyday life stories. "Un homme et une femme" par example...

Only £5
I have decided to go to the cinema at least once a month. It is also reasonbly cheap in Utopolis. Only 7 euros which about £5 I think. Have you seen a film recently? Do you often go to the cinema? How much does a ticket cost in the UK? I think that many amateur filmmakers don't often watch films in cinemas. Tell me that I am wrong.
Willy Van der Linden
Michael Slowe
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Re: The Revenant

Post by Michael Slowe »

Willy, of course all film makers should go and watch films in the cinema. Watching on a TV screen, a computer screen or, the worst of the lot, on an iphone screen (!), does not do the film justice. In addition, if we don't see the best of current productions how can we call ourselves film makers?

Recently, David Percy (previous Ten Best winner & professional documentary maker), and I, went to a special showing of Tarantino's latest epic, ''The Hateful Eight'', at the huge Odeon cinema in London's Leicester Square. The main point of this event is that the film was shown projected in 70mm film, just as Tarantino shot it. There are no other cinemas here that can do this and only 98 in America. Tarantino insisted that he shoot in 70mm film and, such is his prestige, the producers agreed. The additional cost was enormous. Old 70mm film cameras had to be sourced and restored, lenses likewise.

I can't say whether all this effort and expense was worth it. The print that we saw was impressive and the aspect ratio was exactly as it was shot, whereas the digital versions shown elsewhere would not be able to have this. The film was typical Tarantino, that is violent and bloody and not to everyone's taste (certainly not our wives!), but the event was a landmark and not one to be repeated if we consider how things are developing in the world of visual entertainment.

Has anyone else seen the 70mm film version of this film?
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Michael Gough
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Re: The Revenant

Post by Michael Gough »

Hi Willy,
In answer to your question about how the terrifying scene with the bear was film can I suggest you follow this link ... story.html
For me the most memorable bit of this film was the wonderful camera work of Emmanuel Lubezki. I have never noticed such long takes with such free wheeling motion. I particularly want to see the first battle with the Indians again to see how it was achieved. The standard battle action is usually in fast cut big closeups. In this scene you seemed to be running through the chaos with the camera constantly turning in natural head movements as you looked behind, ducked swinging weapons, killed the enemy and saw your friends cut down in front of you. This was not play acting controlled on the editing bench this was like being thrown in the deep end and seeing real time stretch out in front of you as you panicked that perhaps you might not survive. It was fascinating, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.
Bob Lorrimer
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Re: The Revenant

Post by Bob Lorrimer »

Rather a late response, Michael, but I too saw REVENANT!

It was magnificent in so many ways, but it was relentlessly BLEAK and I felt as drained and leaden as the ice-cold monochrome landscape when I emerged from the Cinema.

There were some fantastic scenes....and as you suggest the opening was a master class in Cinematography ....The camera starts the film with a low tracking shot up a shallow watercourse in a forest, the sounds of the trees, keening and crackling in the 'cold'. This alone tells us all we need to know about this landscape and that is before the muzzles of the long rifles overtake the camera in the first shot.

The Indian ambush was violent and splendidly random......the audience was slap in the middle of it and vulnerable too.....a world away from ROBERT MITCHUM confidently striding up Omaha beach, smoking his Havana cigar, in the LONGEST DAY!

Of the many incredible cinematic stuck in my mind and that was the 'fogging' of the lens while the Grizzy licked Leonardo's bloody ear.
An effect which was an aberration but will now have passed into film grammar.

Later on they reused the 'fogging' to stand in for a cross dissolve.....brilliant.

I will see it again because I have an invested interest in the style and the sequencing BUT I am not sure that I want to be quite so depressed when I come out of the cinema!
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Michael Gough
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Re: The Revenant

Post by Michael Gough »

Robert writes about the bleakness of "The Revenant" to which I would add the coldness. We know that it was filmed in the coldest of natural locations with actors crawling through snow and being thrown into icy waters. It was particularly ironic when Linda and I saw it. We had gone into town for shopping with the intention of going on for a walk along the sea front. When we started out it was quite pleasant but by the time we were ready to walk it had started raining and a bitterly cold wind had come from nowhere. So seeking a warmer alternative to shivering by the sea we popped into the cinema. The only film of interest and at a convenient time was “The Revenant”. We both loved the film but joked that we might have felt warmer outside in the wind and rain.

Thanks for reminding me of that brilliant impression of a camera lens being so close to the bear that it fogged up with its breath.

It may not be a cheerful, warm film but Wow! It is an incredible cinematic experience.
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Re: The Revenant

Post by TimStannard »

Bob Lorrimer wrote: Of the many incredible cinematic stuck in my mind and that was the 'fogging' of the lens while the Grizzy licked Leonardo's bloody ear.
An effect which was an aberration but will now have passed into film grammar.
Interesting. Once upon a time anything that gave away the fact that we were watching a scene through equipment was considered to take us "out of the story", by reminding us that we are not actually there but watching through third party.
Nowadays, most of what we experience outside of, for example, going for a walk along the sea front, is through a camera lens and it appears we have passed the point where viewing through a camera is considered reality/normality.
VFX artists add lens flares and lens dirt to CGI shots not to make them look more real, but to make them look more like they were shot through a camera - because that is how we, the audience, expect reality to look.
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
tom hardwick
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Re: The Revenant

Post by tom hardwick »

For me it was the use of the frightening wideangles that put us, the audience, in amongst the men in their great peril, and forcing us to become part of the action.

This technique was used in combination with very long uninterrupted takes, heightening the feeling of actually being there. We were involved, like it or not.

We were the anxious eyes of one of the men, constantly swiveling our head quickly left and right, up and down, in an effort to gauge the level of danger, and bracing ourselves for the sudden and unexpected.

Impressive filmmaking. I watched it played excruciatingly sharply off Blu-ray, into a 65'' OLED, in a completely darkened room, surrounded by pounding audio that seemed able to blow cold winds at us from the speaker drivers themselves.
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