Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lessons of The Revenant

What can we learn about bear wrestling from this movie?

If you like movies, or even if you don't, reading other people's observations about films can be entertaining.  One good site for this is, which aggregates reactions from people who are not professional critics.

One comment theme that crops up from time to time is "100 Things I Learned from ________."  One of these, concerning "The Revenant," attracted a number of amusing contributions.  I took some of my favorites, sorted them by theme and edited them a bit.

Here goes:

Survival Tips

Bear attack wounds heal very quickly.

Bear bites and bear claws don't cause much infection, because your immune system does great work when you're freezing.

 If a 400-pound bear steps on your head, don't worry.  Nothing happens because your skull and ear are as strong as Iron Man's.

If your horse dies, keep it around. You may need to sleep inside of it later.

Floating on a log in a river in the middle of winter won't kill you.

No matter how cold, wet, rainy and snowy it is, it is always possible to start a fire.

Get your clothes wet whenever possible.

Hypothermia and frostbite didn't exist in the 1820s.

A 100-pound bearskin is an excellent flotation device when you fall into a river, yet you can also swim underwater with it on.

If you break your foot, don't worry, you'll be running in just a few days.

Even when you have fire immediately nearby, don't cook your fish or bison liver. You don't need heat to kill bad microbes, and it won't make the meat easier to eat.  Just be bad-ass and bite into it.

Interesting Facts

One out of every three Tom Hardy sentences is unintelligible. 

A single-shot long gun can be shot 2 times without reloading, but only by Leonardo DiCaprio.

A propped up corpse can lead 2 horses, no problem. Balancing on the horse will not be an issue either.

An experienced scout cannot figure out what direction a 400-pound bear is coming from in the open woods.

If you are ever lost in the woods at midnight, just keep wandering around.  Within minutes your comrades will find you in the dark with torches. 

What Could Go Wrong?

Leave your injured and mute father alone with a guy who wants him dead.

Feel free to go hunting beavers without worrying that your injured and virtually defenseless friend´s son is left alone with a greedy murderer.

Hunting a runaway criminal in the frontier? Take one guy with you.

If hostile enemies spot you, take your horse and ride off to the nearest cliff.

When you have the advantage of surprise in attack -- for example, if you happen upon your enemy sleeping -- it's best to alert them from a distance, giving them time to escape.

When the member of your party who intervened to save you from the villain gets beaten by the captain, make no attempt to stop the captain. Wait for a one-on-one session to reveal your friend's innocence.

Native Americans

Native Americans have magical skill and can heal rotten skin in one night, and they are always available in the wilderness to help Leo.

Do you have a full-grown son, who grew up on the frontier among Pawnee? He will be easily scared, yet not react defensively against the man who's been harassing and threatening you both. 

Native Americans can find you even if you go down a river and then get off at a random point and push the boat downstream.

In a desperate situation, you'll definitely have a Noble Savage to take care of you. Count on it.  

You will be saved by a strong, brave Native American who will die at the hands of Frenchmen with little explanation while you are healing 50 feet away in a tree stick tent.  The French killers won't think anything of your hut or bother to investigate the area.  They will know that one Native American wandering around by himself is normal because Native Americans never travel in groups.

Filmmaking Tips

 If you see that excessive violence doesn't make your movie "fly," drag it out for 156 minutes. 

Family Love Is Like A Magic Tree-Trunk That Powers Revenge is a theme that can get you a Best Picture nomination.

Shots of scenery are more important than good worthwhile shots

Pad out every action scene.

Blood splatters (red paint, let's presume) on a camera and light reflected from a camera do not interfere with a 19th-Century story.

When it looks like the hero has no way out, make sure the attackers all have storm trooper aim so the outnumbered, crippled protagonist can find a deus ex machina survival exit.

Logistically difficult, physically punishing filmmaking = artistic filmmaking and great storytelling.

If you shoot a movie that looks like a student movie, it will work as long as you have lots of money and famous people in it.

Pivotal plot points can be fast, dull, murky and predictable as long as someone is yelling in agony, someone is confused, the shots look pretty and Leo gets his Oscar.

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