Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Revenant (2015)

I know exactly what you're thinking: "What is this drama - about a man (Hugh Glass) being attacked by a bear, left for dead by his travel companions, then come back from the brink of death just to seek revenge on these individuals - doing on a horror movie review blog?"

Because it's a BLOOD BATH, folks. Blood. Bath. Also, this story is a nightmare that will make a mockery of all your Falling or Walking Into Math Class Naked dreams.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Perhaps I should start this review with how the real Hugh Glass probably hung out in my back yard.

No, wait  - 

 Let me start at the beginning.

My brother and I (originally from South Dakota) have had plans to see this movie for a while. Not only were we excited to see this completely morbid based-on-a-true story adventure, but we felt it was our duty to do so. Our South Dakotan duty.

So plans were made, the time scheduled, the bus routes mapped. We met in downtown Seattle, amid the chaos of rush hour traffic on a dark and rainy late afternoon. It was 4:20. The movie was to start at 4:30.

Navigating the crowds and traffic lights was no small task, but we made it, only to see that we still had four more stories to climb in the posh mall in-order to get to the movie theater. We trudged up the escalator stairs (because I don't trust elevators), climbing higher and higher to startling yet beautiful heights.

Marching steadily and making good time through the rope line, I noticed that the box office sign didn't advertise a 4:30 showing for The Revenant. My alarms went off. "Something is wrong", I told my brother. We both went on high alert and began looking around for a sign to confirm or dismiss our suspension that some bad news was probably creeping right around the corner.

My brother greeted the box office first, "So, is there no 4:30 showing of The Revenant?" he asked the man behind the glass. No, the next showing isn't until 7:00. GAH, had we planned more efficiently we could have caught the 3:45 showing!

Pregnant pause. 

Then my brother motioned to me "Retreat! Retreat!" I got myself out of the rope line without much harm, only a serious feeling of defeat. We should have never trusted that 3rd party online movie schedule.

What to do, what to do... And we had to move fast - this is a long movie and we had to wake up early in the morning. We grabbed a beer at a bar & restaurant that purposelessly gives patrons the feeling of boozing it up in a woodland realm when in fact they are surrounded by expensive clothing, and perfume stores. We pulled out our electronic devices and went over travel and time options.

We decided to catch a 6:40 showing on the other side of town. My bother pointed out a possible route that would be fast and direct.

We could make it - if we moved quickly.

Adventures, folks.

We took a route completely cluttered with people. I'd not seen anything quite like it in the 19 years I've been living here. Thankfully, everyone on the bus wanted to be done with their work/travel, and this route accommodated that wish quite well. Thank you, Seattle Metro, to whoever forged this route.

When we arrived at our new destination I called my Husband to let him know that I was leaving him behind for the evening. Plans had changed and we're now on a new trek to see the film.

By the end, we got into the theater with minutes to spare, and then sat in stupefied (though entertaining) horror the entire time.

Folks, there are countless reviews of this movie so I'm going to let them continue talking about the film's beauty, faults, originality, etc., because I have something else to say (if you're looking for an in-depth movie review, look elsewhere) .

Not only did I find it a rather amazing and well done blood bath, with full-on brutal visuals in every way, I have a few things I'd like to add/clarify - to tie in our personal history with our adventure of just trying to see the film.

I'm going from silly to serious now:

My  family's home is just about an hour and a half away from the site of Hugh Glass's actual bear attack. Considering our family has been finding wily and completely terrifying (when caught off guard) minks hiding on our property, leads to me to believe Glass probably scoped out our land as a business venture (see my earlier statement of Glass hanging out in my backyard). Our family home is in South Dakota - not in the majestic and beautiful mountainous realm the movie portrays.

Real place:

Movie place:

I get it, man, I get it. The first place you think of when you hear 'bear attack' is not in the open plains of South Dakota. I get it. I also get that South Dakota doesn't have the same visual magistracy as the mountains of Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho. I get it.

Also, the attack occurred in late Summer. Anyone who's ever lived in South Dakota knows that if you're crawling around on the ground during a South Dakota winter: you're a dead man in an hour. Bear attack or not. In fact, sadly enough, the South Dakota winters still kill too many people and animals annually - just because South Dakota winters. The actual Hugh Glass conducted his great post-death quest before winter hit.

The tribes mentioned in this movie could create confusion. Based on the visuals, one might think the Arikara nation (known often as "The Ree" in the film) made it all the way to Yellowstone and the Rockies. There is no indication in history of this happening. Also, by the time Glass came through this area the number of the Arikara people (who were primarily farmers) began to plummet to devastating degrees. This had a lot to due with disease (from the trappers) and wars with different Sioux tribes. Additionally the Pawnee people were primarily located far more south of the movie's focus, and were not known to have traveled far into the Dakotas.

In all, I think the film did a fine job of trying to point out the complexities of the tribes in the area at the time, while incorporating the additional moral dilemmas of introducing these fur seeking dudes who will to do what ever it takes to get fur. However, I would encourage you to research the tribes mentioned in this movie and learn more about them - don't rely entirely on what is seen in the film.

I enjoyed this movie a great deal. I still stand by my horror movie affiliation. And yet, I'm taking this particular story a little personal. What I hope comes out of this movie is that this area of South Dakota garners a greater public's appreciation of the time, as well as a better understanding of all the people involved.

Hollywood made a very pretty fantastic film, the story dives deeper than this bear attack, though. And there's a world of people in this community waiting for all that recognition. Dare I say, there is a rather large community here looking for a revenant.

Suggested pairing: Best of luck, vegetarians, just trying to make it through the dinner scenes! Meat, raw meat. Ice cold water that tastes a little like dirt.

I saw this movie in the theater. You should see this movie in the theater. This film requires a big big big screen.

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