Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu is currently at the center of the Oscar race with his comedy Birdman, but in between accepting awards and doing the cursory “For Your Consideration” interviews, he’s also busy with something else: shooting his next movie. Iñárritu and Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki are in the middle of filming the heavily dramatic The Revenant in an obscure region of Calgary, with a fantastic cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio as an American fur trapper in the 1800s who is robbed and left for dead, only to survive and seek vengeance on his attackers. Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter also star.
But you may have noticed that The Revenant has been in production for a very long time, as evidenced by DiCaprio’s ever-scraggly beard. Iñárritu fought hard to get the extra money in the budget to shoot the film in sequence (ie. first scene first, last scene last), which is kind of a rarity given that it takes more time to accommodate. Moreover, we previously learned that Iñárritu and Lubezki were shooting in an area of Calgary that only allowed them to shoot a little bit of the film at a time, and in a new interview with Deadline, Iñárritu elaborated on why The Revenant is taking nine months to shoot:
“We don’t finish until the end of April or May, and we are shooting very small hours. It was planned this way, to be little-by-little jewel moments; that’s the way I designed the production. That was both to create intensity in these moments, as well as the climate conditions. We are shooting in such remote far-away locations that, by the time we arrive and have to return, we have already spent 40% of the day. But those locations are so gorgeous and so powerful, they look like they have never been touched by a human being, and that’s what I needed. The light is very reduced here in winter, and we are not shooting with any electrical lighting, just natural light. And every single scene is so difficult — emotionally, technically. I’ve gotten myself in trouble again, but I’m trying my best.”
I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of Iñárritu’s films (Birdman is fine), but The Revenant has me highly intrigued. And Lubezki working once again with natural light, as he did on The Tree of Life? Fantastic.
The Revenant is scheduled to hit theaters on December 25th, at which time the director could very well find himself back in the awards race.