And The Bear Attack

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Origin of revenant: 1820-30;  French: ghost, noun use of present participle of revenir to return, equivalent to  re- + ven (ir) to come  (Latin venīre); a person who returns as a spirit after death; a person who returns.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” is featured on a random internet list as one of “15 great movies that are incredibly boring.”

I have three words to say to that. Three times: the bear attack. The bear attack. The bear attack.

Although the Arikara onslaught on the fur traders early in the film was an uber-realistic, white-knuckle event which is captured in an uninterrupted, continuous shot without cuts, in my opinion the bear attack on DiCaprio’s character Glass was the eye-boggling winner as far as effects go. I think I’ve seen that scene at least four or five times, and each time is as horrifying as the last.

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But we can’t say a movie’s not boring just because of one scene, right?

Right. There’s action in this movie. It’s just spaced far apart, like the desolate stretches of frozen land that DiCaprio’s character traverses as he makes his way toward sweet revenge against the one who murdered his son and left him to die.

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Between Glass’s ghastly physical suffering and thirst for vengeance, the relentless attacks of the Arikara tribe who are also searching for the chief’s missing daughter, the French hunters who happen to be holding prisoner and raping said daughter, and myriad other randomly violent and demoralizing situations occurring in the story, one might wonder why the hell is it so boring then?

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On a side note, according to a Wikipedia article, a Canadian actor was “strongly critical of the movie for portraying French-Canadian voyageurs as murderous rapists.” And according to Allan Greer, the Canada Research Chair in Colonial North America, “generally the American traders had a worse reputation than the Canadians.”[49]

I would venture the difference to be in pacing and presentation; the dialogue tends to be formal and thoughtful, lacking quips and “cuteness,” the spectacular cinematography lures you into its imagined interior: you can almost feel the snow, the fire’s warmth. There is a savage beauty, and you fall helplessly in love.

And time spools out easily, almost dreamily between events, giving the viewer the space to recover, imitating, in my opinion, how time was probably experienced anyway back before our technological age: heavier, lengthier somehow, more packed with feeling, patience, even consideration of consequence. Nothing like today.  This movie nurtures time. That could be boring to some.

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In reality, the real Hugh Glass had not been holding a fiery grudge which drove him forward to seek revenge. In reality, Mr. Glass evidently only wanted his rifle back.

And the bear attack. Don’t forget the bear attack.

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Greed, misunderstanding, lack of empathy, betrayal: the makings of a good Hollywood movie (for some).

The general state of humanity.

Politics.

I wonder if a country could be a revenant like a person. If a country could, maybe the U.S. will be a revenant. Maybe slit open, cleaved in two, the odds stacked against it, it’ll dig upward, burst outward into something new.

Does a country have a voice? Maybe it does. Maybe howling, it’ll survive the journey and return, racked and scarred, like Glass, but alive, even though, in real life, Glass didn’t want revenge; he only wanted his rifle back.

And you’ll be happy to know, also in real life, that the fort took up a collection to pay him for all his trouble. A good end to a frightening, punishing quest. Could happen to anyone. Could happen to us.

Long distance French kiss

 

36 thoughts on “And The Bear Attack

  1. You know what Sel, the best compliment I can give your brilliant description of this movie is to say you’ve made me feel like I need to watch it.
    I’m a little biased because I love the way you describe and write anyway, but I’m gonna watch it now. I’ve often scrolled past it on Netflix but never really felt the need to press play. I do now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a thoughtful, reflective review Stacey!
    I’ve been chatting recently with a friend about McCathy’s Blood Meridian, and how time becomes almost irrelevant in a landscape that doesn’t care. I found The Revenant mesmerising in many of the ways that you did: time spooling out slowly, and the sheer hostility of the terrain that Glass has to negotiate for so long. The cold. How did he survive the freezing river? I was overwhelmed with relief when he managed to climb inside the still warm animal.
    And did you ever consider the bear attack? Viscerality unsurpassed. Meat suit on meat suit. It hurt me for the next 20 minutes.
    Glad you reminded me about a very fine film. Thanks 😃😃

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot, Kevin. I’m happy to remind you of what I consider a very fine film. Obviously, they made up a lot of the story that never actually happened (they’re not sure the real Glass even had a son) and if he had actually made it to the fort and killed Fitzgerald, he himself would have shot or hung. But I love this director and see you agree that it’s mesmerizing visual poetry. 🙂 🙂

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    • It IS hard to imagine. But considering how annoyed I was by The Lighthouse recently, a very well done, atmospheric, excellently acted movie, I guess I can understand, lol

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    • Thanks, Glen. Yeah, I tend not to want to see the behind the scenes stuff, although my husband would be on that like white on rice! I’m with you: it does take away the magic a little…

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    • Exactly nowhere, ha ha. Can you imagine? Glass arrives at the fort. “Omg!” say the men, “You’re alive!” They hand him his rifle. “You’ll be wanting this back, I imagine!”
      “Thanks,” he said, “I do.” And then they all go to the watering hole, down a few, split their savings and offer it up: “Here, Glass, this’ll help ya get back on yer feet.”
      “Wow, thanks, guys.”
      THE END

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can ONLY imagine. Definitely an opportunity he couldn’t pass over, though. Such an immensely meaty role. How could he even swallow it all?!
    You have a nice week too, Neil. Ciao!

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  4. Yes, Michael, yes, that bear attack! When I think back to Jaws and the captain getting munched by that fake shark….I know those were the days of practical special effects (a lost art form), but looking back at it now….it’s a little cringe-worthy, isn’t it? Leonardo’s bear scene will never be cringe-worthy. I’m not a big CGI fan. But they CGIed the crap out of that scene, and in that scene and that moment, I LOVE CGI, lol………

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  5. I loved reading your review Stacey. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone could find it boring. And of course the bear scene was extraordinary and looked frighteningly real. I saw The Lighthouse too recently and felt rather let down after the rave reviews. I beg to differ on the Jaws scene. I still think it holds up pretty well. I often wonder how Spielberg pulled that movie off considering it was all props. Obviously concocting the barrels (in place of the shark) was a stroke of genius and added to the tension.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the review, Matthew. Hey, interesting to hear you felt a little let down after seeing The Lighthouse. Now I don’t feel quite so crazy, lol. As for Jaws: I know, I know, the practical effects were stunning back in the day, and like I said, it’s a lost art. The fact that a lot of folks feel the same way as you about Jaws says a LOT for the effectiveness of real, material objects in movies as opposed to something done in a computer. I hope they don’t let that knowledge and skill die completely out. Maybe there’ll be a comeback with practical effects one day…….! Or at least a partial one. 🙂

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      • I love the way you reviewed The Revenant. It was eclectic in it’s approach and your personality shone through. Your repetitiveness of the bear scene had me in stitches, but you were on the money. I would go so far to say if that bear scene didn’t work – Leonardo would still be without an Oscar and The Revenant an underachiever in the eyes of the public – Because it WAS SO BORING! haha.

        The Lighthouse had its moments, but give me Ingmar Bergman everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. You have to see Bergman’s ‘Persona’ if you haven’t which is the A1 quintessential arthouse movie. I’m nearly certain you would be bamboozled by it if you could watch it with the attention it deserved. Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ which was inspired by ‘Persona’, got pretty close.

        I agree with you and I hope Hollywood doesn’t resort to CGI trickery at every chance because of budget and market considerations. The Star Wars reboots (including George’s) are the best examples of how CGI can detract from a potentially good story and authentic production.

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  6. Clever as always. A wonderful way to tell a story.
    Keep you on your toes. A little tale here, a little fact there and all wrapped up with a pondering thoughtful thought.

    I never knew what Revenant meant. Plus I never mention this movie to anyone by name… because I can never pronounce it when prompted. Gets my tongue all twisted. Anyhooo! Boring? No way but strangely however much I liked it I don’t feel the need to ever see it again!
    “you can almost feel the snow, the fire’s warmth.” So true.
    The bear attack was something else! esp when you didn’t know it was coming. Savage. Speechless. Dear god!
    Did the bear do more to him than just beat the living daylights out of him! Oh my days. It’s brutal.

    “This movie nurtures time” I might have to steal that. Sorry lol. 🙂

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    • Thanks for the compliments Mikey! Written in your usual amusing way, ha ha ha.
      And I know EXACTLY what you mean about seeing a movie that I liked a lot….and never ever seeing it again after that. I have at least a handful of those. It’s so weird! Almost like an invisible wall comes up between you and those movies–you can see them through the wall, you remember how good they were, entertaining, etc., but the wall is somehow stopping you from accessing them….and you also don’t feel heartbroken about that…so you just go on your way……. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  7. We only had a “leaked” version by that infamous pirate group ‘Hive 8’or something, that already was on the internet 2 weeks before the premiere, so quality wasn’t the best. Maybe that’s why I found the movie not only boring but fugly, too. And I don’t intend to ever watch it again, hesitant to give it a second chance.
    Similar happened to me with Parasite, just the other day. Geat film, as close to perfection as can ever be … that I won’t take a second look at. That said usually I’m a sucker for Korean cinema. Still thx but no thx. =^.^=

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  8. Well, I DO think the crappy presentation you got for Revenant contributed to your being underwhelmed, Orca. But I won’t try to convince you to give it another shot, ’cause if you didn’t feel it, you didn’t feel it. As the kids say–Fo’ sho’!
    You know, Parasite’s probably a very good example of a really good movie that–I agree–I probably wouldn’t see again anytime soon–if ever. Don’t know why. It’s bizarre. We liked Parasite. But we’re into some Korean stuff too. A couple of pretty good sci-fis that I can’t recall the titles of at the moment……..

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  9. Pingback: 11/02 – 17/02 incl. The Bear Attack, Lou Reed & Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll | Observation Blogger

  10. Well, the moment I read your review I went and watch the first five minutes of the Indian raid on the hunters, its it pretty pack with action, I will keep watching it, the cinematography looks superb.

    Thanks Stacey! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, the opening was certainly action-packed, lol !!! But lots of down time too. Maybe you’ll like the rest of it…. if you have the time to watch. Thanks for dropping by, Burning Heart.

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  12. You are absolutely right to point out how compelling this movie is and how the whole concept of what is “boring” is so misunderstood and wrongheaded. A lot of us out here in the blogosphere fondly recall what felt like a more thoughtful pace to life, pre-internet. Just take a walk in the woods and bask in all that “boring” beauty. Just keep an eye out for bears, if bears are something to factor into your hike. Just avoid bears as much as possible. There are plenty of hikes you can take that won’t involve any bears! Okay, I got that off my chest. I need some coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. And as we previously discussed, the above “no” is actually “now,” of course.
    Oh my god, I’m going to be FIRED FROM MY JOB!!!! 😦

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  14. I enjoyed reading your elegant, insightful review of the film. I remember being ticked off DiCaprio got a nomination as it seemed he was basically a human meat bag of suffering in it, which anyone can do. Other than that, I also appreciate films that take their time in telling the story. The standard today, aside from independent films, ramrod it through and compact it into 90 minutes (or less!) I almost prefer watching good series anymore as it allows for enough character and plot development. Everything you say about the film makes it great, but I have no desire to watch it again — bears are my most-feared animal and it triggered terror to watch the attack.

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  15. Yeah, I know what you mean about the endless suffering on one hand. But on the other, since the movie was more of an art film than anything else and the visual imperative was the star (more than dialogue) he definitely did his non-verbal “acting” to a T. But, yeah, it’s ongoing and I can understand it assaulting the senses and emotions.
    And as for the bear attack–oh my god, I can’t believe you even sat through that scene (CGIed as it was) but regardless, when you have this deep terror of bears. You’re brave!!!

    On the other hand, I have not heard of Embrace the Serpent! I wrote it down and hope we can see it soon–maybe this weekend. It sounds good! Thanks for the tip.

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