On January 1, 2016, Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC passed away at the age of 85. Zsigmond, who won an Oscar for his work on Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), was responsible for the distinctive look of many of the best Hollywood movies of the 1970s, starting with Altman’s McCabe & Mrs Miller (1971). Using the wide-screen Panavision image (before screens got narrower to accommodate home video), Zsigmond steeped this anti-western in dark, wet, cold tones. It was the kind of desaturated cinematography for which he became renowned.
|Vilmos Zsigmond (1978)|
John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972) was Zsigmond’s first film shot entirely on location, namely the Appalachian mountains of northern Georgia and South Carolina. The use of desaturated film stock gave the picture a certain gritty realism, added to which there were no special effects or stuntmen, so that Zsigmond had to film the actors shooting the rapids while actually doing so himself.
Spielberg asked Zsigmond to photograph his first big-screen feature, The Sugarland Express (1974), a road movie set in Texas, which was the first feature to be shot with the new lightweight Panaflex camera. After refusing to shoot Jaws because he thought it was a stupid script, Zsigmond worked with Spielberg again on the science-fiction extravaganza Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “It was difficult to shoot because of the lighting,” he recalled. “We had huge amounts of lighting to get the special effects – which would be done by computer-generated imagery today, but in those days we had to do it in the camera.” Out of the eight Oscar nominations the film received, only the cinematographer collected the statuette.
|Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)|
The Film & Art Study presentation began with select sequences of Vilmos Zsimond's greatest work: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deliverance, The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate.
“revenant” (noun) - One who has returned from the dead. From the French, revenir, to return. A corpse that comes back to life.
|The Revenant (2016)|
The Revenant is a 2015 biographical western, directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu set in 1823 Montana and South Dakota, which was inspired by the experiences of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass. The screenplay was written by Mark L Smith and Iñárritu, based in part on Michael Punke’s The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domnall Gleeson.
Development of the film began in August 2001 when Akiva Goldsman purchased Punke's manuscript with the intent to produce the film. The film was originally set to be directed by Park Chan-wook with Samual L Jackson in mind to star, and later by John Hillcoat with Christian Bale in negotiations to star. Both directors left the project, and Iñárritu signed on to direct in August 2011. In April 2014, after several delays in production due to other projects, Iñárritu confirmed that he was beginning work on The Revenant and that DiCaprio would play the lead role. It is the second on-screen collaboration of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy (the first being Inception).
Principal photography for The Revenant began in October 2014. Iñárritu was insistent that computer-generated imagery not be used to enhance the film, stating "If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit.” A planned two-week break from filming in December was extended to six weeks (forcing actor Tom Hardy to drop out of another commitment). In February 2015, Iñarritu, who shot the film using natural light, stated that production would last "until the end of April or May", as the crew is "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". Brad Weston, president and CEO of New Regency Pictures, stated that principal photography had been challenging due to the ambitious nature of the film. Ultimately, principal photography wrapped in August 2015.
Leonardo DiCaprio was originally approached to star in Steve Jobs (2015), but dropped out to do this film instead.
Sean Penn was the first choice for the role of John Fitzgerald and was actually cast in the role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. The role was then filled in by Tom Hardy.
|Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant (2016)|
The movie was filmed in 12 different locations and three different countries including Canada, United States and Argentina. Specifically, Canadian filming took place in British Columbia and Alberta including Victoria, Fortress Mountain, Calgary, Alberta, and at Mammoth Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia. (While the initial plan was to film entirely in Canada, the weather ended up being too warm, leading the filmmakers to locations at the tip of Argentina with snow on the ground, to shoot the film's ending.)
Crew members often complained about difficult shoots, with many quitting or getting fired. Mary Parent was then brought in as a producer. Iñárritu stated that some of the members of the crew had left the film, explaining that "as a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra." On his experience filming, DiCaprio stated: "I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly."
Iñárritu had stated that he originally wanted to shoot the film chronologically, a process that would have added $7 million to the film's production budget. Iñarritu later confirmed that the film was shot in-sequence, despite Tom Hardy's statement that the film could not be shot chronologically, due to weather conditions.
In July 2015, it was reported that the film's budget had ballooned from the original $60 million to $95 million, and by the time production wrapped it had reached $135 million.
The musical score for The Revenant was composed by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto in collaboration with The National’s Bryce Dessner and German electronic musician Alva Noto. The score was performed by the 25-piece Berlin-based orchestra known as "stargaze" under conductor Andre de Ridder.
A soundtrack album was released digitally on December 25, 2015 and on CD on January 8, 2016. Milian Records will release a vinyl pressing of the soundtrack in April 2016.
Writing for New York magazine on December 28, 2015, Justin Davidson compared Sakamoto's score to the contemporaneous score by Ennio Morricone for The Hateful 8 stating: "Inarritu made a completely different choice of composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto, who came to film from a career in experimental electronics... Sakamoto's is the more successful score. Both films slouch toward inevitable spasms of bloodshed, with long pensive stretches in between... Sakamoto slowly progresses through glacial chords that build toward a fortissimo horizon... The score doesn't so much follow the action here as lead it, urging the fighters on, even as it registers their single-minded lunacy."
This story was filmed in 1971 as "Man in the Wilderness" starring Richard Harris as the Glass character (called Zach Bass in this version).
|Inarritu and DiCaprio Golden Globes 2016|
January 10, 2016 was a huge night for The Revenant at the Golden Globes, the harrowing true-life story of a frontiersman’s battle to survive after being left for dead. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave this best motion picture (drama); the best actor (drama) prize went to its star Leonardo DiCaprio and the best director award (not split into drama and musical/comedy) went to Alejandro González Iñárritu.