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“The Revenant” Agonizes through the Frontier in a Perfect Teaser Trailer

The Revenant has been anticipated since April of 2014, when Alejandro G. Iñárritu announced that he had started to work on the project with Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role.  The story was to be based on a novel of the same name detailing the true events of a fur-trapper on the American frontier at the beginning of the nineteenth century.  After the world saw the heights Iñárritu was capable of with Birdman, that anticipation skyrocketed, and we are fortunate to finally get a brief look at The Revenant with a haunting teaser trailer which revels in the mood of a dark, savage thriller. Watch the teaser below:

I aint afraid to die anymore. I done it already.

This teaser trailer is all atmosphere and tension. A rhythmic drumming drowns the actual soundtrack, and inexorably propels the visuals forward. The camera’s movement and framing transports us into the cold winter of the American West in the 1820s and keeps us there throughout – it is a very natural, intimate aesthetic, similar to how the audience was drawn onto the stage of Birdman. As the drums quicken, we see our protagonist Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggling through a battle with Indians. His rifle shot punctuates the drums, which relent for a moment. Then the new main percussive instrument is Glass’ heavy breathing, with the drums accompanying. We continue through the plight of Glass through horse-chases, survival scenarios, and bear fights, his labored breaths and ever-quickening drums a constant thread through the montage. Eventually, everything is silent save for the fall of a few snowflakes as the camera drifts dream-like through a frozen forest.  Gorgeous.

This teaser is an absolute piece of art. We shouldn’t be surprised given Iñárritu’s untarnished brilliance, but this is on a different level. As a teaser, we get no true plot points, but a quick overview of the synopsis reveals that Glass is on a revenge tour through this harsh wilderness, looking for the members of his troop who left him for dead following a bear attack (probably the one we see in the teaser). The leader of this troop is the unrivalled Tom Hardy, which somehow is only the third or fourth most exciting thing about The Revenant.  The Revenant has shot to the very top of my list for must-see films this year. Past The Martian. Past The Hateful Eight. Yes, even past Star Wars.  If the glimpses we got in this teaser are indicative of the greater whole, then we are in for a mesmerizing experience.

I could probably gush about this visual, or that camera movement from now until the film’s Christmas Day release date (anyone up for a Revenant / Hateful Eight double-feature?), but it will suffice to say this: there has not been a more-perfect teaser trailer since Alien.

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

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