In the first trailer for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, very little is said as Leonardo DiCaprio’s heavy breathing accompanies shots of him looking exhausted, desperate, and ready for a goddamn Oscar. The second trailer for Iñárritu’s followup to Birdman dials down that panting and replaces it with a fair amount of dialogue and plot. After exchanging pleasantries with a vicious bear, DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass finds himself near death and unable to travel with his hunting team. When John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) murders his son and buries Glass alive, it sets in motion an against-all-odds story of one man’s quest for survival and vengeance.
The film is adapted from the book of the same name by Michael Punke, and has been in development since it was published in 2003. Although it was finally scheduled to shoot in Canada from September 2014 to March of this year, production extended well into the summer due to a lack of snow, with crew members traveling as far as Argentina to find it. The experience has been bluntly described as “a living hell” by the crew, but in response to understandable grumbles over temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero on set, Iñárritu said “If we ended up in green screen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.”
So there you have it. Suffering means a good movie. Happiness means a shit movie. If the same logic translates into Oscars for long-deprived leading men and this film doesn’t yield DiCaprio one, he’ll have no choice left but to become the first actor to act in the vacuum of space without a space suit.