Robert McKee’s WORKS / DOESN’T WORK Film Review:

The Revenant (2015) | Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
McKee Says: It Works (Spoiler Alert!)

THE REVENANT epitomizes cinematic storytelling:

Minimum dialogue, maximum imagery. Note, however, that nature motifs of snow-covered fields and cloud-wrapped mountains only color the mood and balance pacing. No matter how well composed, skyscapes and landscapes cannot tell a story. Bodies and faces of characters reacting to human, animal, and physical adversaries tell the story, and tell it brilliantly–a tale of the most astonishing and yet authentic brutality I have ever seen.

THE REVENANT tells a Testing Plot:

A favorite of Ernest Hemingway in novels such as The Old Man and the Sea, this rarely used genre dramatizes the dynamic of Willpower versus Giving Up. Some recent examples: 127 HOURS, ALL IS LOST, and Xiaogang Feng’s BACK TO 1942. To enrich its central plot, THE REVENANT also draws on two supporting genres: Action/Adventure and the Crime Story. Although the values of Life/Death and Justice/Injustice add dimension, without the depth that the Testing Plot brings, the film would be just another tale of revenge.

What a pleasure to watch two pros at work. Alejandro González Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio must love what they do or they wouldn’t kill themselves doing it.