Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant is poised to potentially make a serious impression this Oscar season. The film features an all-star cast – consisting of no less than Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, and Leonardo DiCaprio – beautiful cinematography, and a gripping, dark, yet straightforward story about revenge in the North American wilderness. However, not everyone who has attended advance screenings of the film enjoyed themselves. Early reports indicate that some people had to walk out of the theater for one reason: the overwhelming gore.
According to a report in THR, some attendees of early screenings of The Revenant walked out of the film because they could not stomach the movie’s gory content. Part of the reason for the general reaction apparently stems from the fact that some critics who have seen the film feel that the intense violence does not serve a greater purpose. One Academy member who contacted the trade said:
Disappointed with The Revenant. There's no 'there' there. Long Brutal. No clear eco message. Violent and pointless. Revenge in the wilderness.
It’s a difficult assessment to make, because indeed many films that have won Best Picture in recent years have used violence to elevate their content and get a deeper message across. For example, as gratuitous as 2010 Oscar winner The Hurt Locker was, its violence carried with it themes regarding the hell of war, and how that hell can become an addiction that some soldiers begin to crave. That being said, upon examination, The Revenant does appear to posit thematic questions regarding trials of the human spirit and the importance of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, but we'll have to wait and see for ourselves.
For those of you who don’t know, The Revenant is a story of revenge on the American Frontier during the 19th century. When Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear, witnesses the murder of his son, and is left for dead by the rest of his hunting party, he recuperates and embarks on a journey to exact justice upon the men responsible for his pain and suffering. Check out the trailer below to get a better sense of how the film will play out.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that these opinions do represent a minority of critics who have seen the film. By and large, most have praised it and it has generated quite a bit of Oscar buzz, especially where Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is concerned. Any issue taken with that film went towards the violence, and not necessarily towards the actors involved in the production. Mainstream audiences will find out whether or not they can handle the blood and gore in The Revenant when the film hits theaters this Christmas.