Last week I happened to catch the new movie The Revenant. This movie has won Oscar awards announced in February this year. I had not read the story line before choosing to go the movie. The word revenant means someone who is believed to be resurrected, walking out of dead. I somehow felt that the movie might be around spirits, ghosts etc, there are many movies of that genre like The Conjuring and many others.
The movie turned out to be about conflicts between early settlers and native American in the northern American region. Contacts with native American has been depicted in many movies, especially wild west movies. During my visit to the USA in 2012, I was staying in Orange County area near Los Angeles. I happened to visit Big Bear Lake area, which was inhabited by native Americans and also grizzly bears in the past. It has native American museum and various stores selling native Indian artifacts. The history is that western settlers have exploited native American, deprived them off their land, their rights. Of course, US government has tried to preserve their culture, settlements, and areas by notifying them.
Anyway, so, this movie also happens to be the story of survival of the protagonist, and story of literally walking out death like situations. The famous Hollywood actor, hero of mega movie Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio, is that protagonist in this movie. The story line is very simple. He is shown as the leader of a group involved procuring, buying pelts(fur of animals like bear) from native Americans. During one of such expeditions, they are attacked and their survival game starts. Over and above, DiCaprio gets fatally injured in a grizzly bear attack. The other group members leave him strangled and on his own in the forest, in the cold, freezing weather. DiCaprio battles all the odds for life and finally reaches the home, to find revenge with the person who made him strangle.
Majority of the film is filled with raw and bloody situations and scenes, which is absolutely near real. The large and huge grizzly bear attack and how he fights that, is thrilling to watch, and audience is left spellbound. The others scenes such as catching and eating fish raw, taking shelter in a dead horse’s belly to counter cold, treating the wound in a raw manner are very raw and leave some very uncomfortable. We have seen Sylvester Stallone stitching his wound in a movie titled Rambo(first blood), in the past, so this is not new! The cinematography, locations is amazing. It has won Oscar for cinematography also. The movie is based on the novel of the same name and inspired by real events in the history, as mentioned in the wiki page here.
Not sure why Leonardo DiCaprio got best actor award for this movie though. I did not find any display of his acting abilities in this movie, as it is mainly about adventure, courage, never say die attitude, survival in nature etc. Hence there were hardly any opportunities for acting display(for any one in the movie). Nonetheless, he is fine actor. It was heartening to see that during his speech, he brought issue of climate change to the fore, and in the context of the movie which also about man’s relationship with nature.
I would like to end this blog by a note on relation between bears and native Indians. I am no expert of native American culture and history, but I recently read a Marathi book on bears and their place in native American mythology. The classic Marathi book by famous archaeologist Durga Bhagwat titled Aswal(अस्वल means bear) is one of the first such books. The one I read recently is specifically on folk tales of bears in native Americans (नॉर्थ अमेरिकन इंडियन्सच्या अस्वललोककथा). This is by Dr Arun Prabhune. This has few sections on grizzly bear. It was interesting to read that and related back to the grizzly bear attack incident in the movie. I will write more about these books later though. Stay tuned!