FILM: THE REVENANT
CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Lukas Haas, Brendan Fletcher, Duane Howard, Arthur Redcloud, Grace Dove
DIRECTOR: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Inspired by true events, ‘The Revenant’ is an epic story of survival and transformation on the American frontier. While on an expedition into the uncharted wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally mauled by a bear, then abandoned by members of his own hunting team. Alone and near death, Glass refuses to succumb. Driven by sheer will and his love for his Native American wife and son, he undertakes a 200-mile odyssey through the vast and untamed West on the trail of the man who betrayed him: John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). What begins as a relentless quest for revenge becomes a heroic saga against all odds towards home and redemption.
Known for such films as ‘21 Grams’, ‘Babel’ and the Academy Award-winning Best Picture ‘Birdman’, The Revenant is Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s first historical epic. He brings his distinctive mix of visual immediacy and emotional intimacy to a story that transports audiences to a time and place that have rarely been experienced through visceral modern filmmaking.
The film’s wilderness-based production mirrored the harsh conditions Glass and company actually lived through in the 1800s. Iñárritu and his whole cast and crew were up for all that was thrown at them, welcoming the challenges of shooting in Canada and Argentina, regions known for unpredictable weather and untouched wilds, in order to fully understand the experience of fur trappers in the early 19th century.
Iñárritu consulted closely with historical advisors to authentically explore the territorial wars with Native tribes that would later become the stuff of myth.
Glass’s mythology began in 1823, when he was among thousands joining the fur trade, a driving new force in the US economy. It was a time when many saw the wild as a spiritual void that demanded to be tamed and conquered by the steeliest of men. And so they poured into the unknown, plying unmapped rivers, disappearing into impossibly lush forests, seeking not only excitement and adventure but also profits – often in fierce competition with the Native tribes for whom these lands had long been home.
Many such men died anonymously, but Glass entered the annals of American folklore by flat-out refusing to die. His legend sparked after he faced one of the West’s most feared dangers: a startled grizzly bear.
For even the most tested frontiersmen that should have been the end. But not for Glass. In Iñárritu’s telling of the tale, a mauled Glass clings to life – then suffers a human betrayal that fuels him to continue at any cost.
In spite of tremendous loss, Glass pulls himself from an early grave – clawing his way through a gauntlet of unknown perils and unfamiliar cultures on a journey that becomes not just a search for reckoning but for redemption. As Glass moves through the frontier in turmoil, he comes to reject the urge for destruction that once drove him. He has become a “revenant” – one returned from the dead.
“Glass’s story asks the questions: Who are we when we are completely stripped of everything? What are we made of and what are we capable of?,” says Iñárritu.
“‘The Revenant’ is an incredible journey through the harshest elements of an uncharted America. It’s about the power of a man’s spirit. Hugh Glass’s story is the stuff of campfire legends, but Alejandro uses that folklore to explore what it really means to have all the chips stacked against you, what the human spirit can endure and what happens to you when you do endure,” says star Leonardo DiCaprio.
For Iñárritu The Revenant is a complete 180 from the interior world of ‘Birdman’. Having honed in on the neuroses of current times, Iñárritu now switched all gears into a grand-scale story from the American past, with its perpetual tensions between savagery and civility, serenity and ambition.
“For over five years, this project was a dream for me,” says Iñárritu. “It’s an intense, emotional story set against a beautiful, epic backdrop that explores the lives of trappers who grew spiritually even as they suffered immensely physically. Though much of Glass’s story is apocryphal, we tried to stay very faithful to what these men went through in these undeveloped territories. We went through difficult physical and technical conditions to squeeze every honest emotion out of this incredible adventure.”
FILM: NORM OF THE NORTH
CAST: Bill Night, Colm Meaney, Heather Graham, Loretta Devine, Rob Schneider
Director: Trevor Wall
Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.
Inspired in part by one of the Arctic’s most iconic animals, producer Ken Katsumoto reached out to Los Angeles-based Splash Entertainment to develop a story that had heart, humour and most importantly, a misfit hero. “It was important that our protagonist have a unique attribute that he perceives as a weakness but ends up proving to be a strength,” explains Katsumoto. “Similar to the way Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer thought he was flawed by having a shiny nose, Norm’s perceived weakness – speaking human and his ability to feel – helps him accomplish the goal of saving his home from a crazed developer in New York City.”
To accompany the gentle giant of a bear on his journey, Norm of the North producers surrounded him with comic relief in the form of three mischief-making lemmings. “We thought it would be hysterical to combine Norm, the largest creature in the Arctic, with lemmings that are small and indestructible,” says Nicolas Atlan, one of the film’s producers and Co-CEO of animation company Splash Entertainment. “They can get squashed, they can get stomped on, they can have an elevator close on them, but like Silly Putty, they bounce right back into their original shape.”
The film is directed by Trevor Wall, whose previous credits include the animated TV series ‘Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch’, ‘Hero: 108’ and ‘Zevo-3’. “We’ve created a fish-out-of-water story that is propelled by this primal urge Norm has to go and fight for his home,” says Wall. “So we thought it would be fun to watch him travel to what is arguably the most challenging human place of them all: New York City.”
FILM: DADDY’S HOME
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferell, Linda Cardellini
DIRECTOR: Sean Anders
A mild-mannered radio executive (Will Ferrell) struggles to become a good stepfather to his wife’s two children, but complications arise when their father (Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.
The film marks the second collaboration between Wahlberg and Ferrell, following the 2010 action-comedy film ‘The Other Guys’.