<b>MAN VS. WILD:</b>  Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s <i>The Revenant</i> stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman fighting for his life after being left for dead following a bear mauling.

MAN VS. WILD: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman fighting for his life after being left for dead following a bear mauling.

‘The Revenant’ Is Slow-Paced Suffering

Leo DiCaprio Stars in Remake of an Epic Western

Turns out “revenant” is Old French for “survivor porn.” The title of this three-hour epic remake of the 1970s Richard Harris vehicle Man in the Wilderness doesn’t describe the real movie we watch, even if our battered hero with the fragile moniker Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) crawls out of a freezing mud grave and goes back to civilization for revenge. He’s not back from the dead much as he is wading through hell on earth. Though cinematically beautiful beyond anything at the movies, it’s a half-hour too much slow-paced suffering. In the end, the audience goes cold.

The Revenant opens thrillingly with a quasi-military fur-trapping march suddenly invaded by Indians we barely see. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who made last year’s astonishing Birdman, remains infatuated with long shots, and we experience the attack as if one of the trappers. Arrows come from every direction and enter white bodies in numerous horrifying ways. Later, Glass walks along a river when he runs into a mama bear and her cubs. The CGI attack is both real and surreal. The problem with The Revenant, however, is that it keeps heaping on the horror. Glass drags us through so many freezing, grimy, gross-out, and stabby encounters it begins to feel like Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in a national park. He’s driven by revenge against a sullen man named John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), and all we wonder is what DiCaprio’s Academy acceptance speech will be.

You could argue that The Revenant underscores the horrors of the American genocide, though the role of the Pawnee in this story is a lot closer to revenanting than Glass’s is. It’s more like an indictment of our romance with the making of the west, but that’s been done better so many times, from Little Big Man on, that this seems dull. In real life, Glass forgave his horrible counterparts — even lived with them for the duration. Of all possible endings, the true story more honestly reflects the true state of our civilizing history. Everybody forgave everybody else, and today a freeway runs through it.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Dyer Returns as Interim Fire Chief

When Eric Peterson steps down, Mike Dyer will fill in for County Fire.

Santa Barbara Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Olympia Competition

At 43, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden ties for the oldest champ in the contest's history.

Renovated Cabrillo Ball Park Now Open

The park got new exercise equipment, multi-use grass turf areas, and an upgraded softball field.

UCSB Researcher Charged with Molesting Child on Campus

Dr. Hongjun Zhou was arrested September 6.

Teen Serial Robber Caught and Confesses

The suspect was identified through an anonymous tipster.