Our #TBT segment has been throwing it back hard for about six months now, so this week, as part of a grand tradition of “Best of the Year” op-eds, we’ve decided to narrow our scope and single out the most enticing trailer of 2015. Who will place itself in the same canon of editing brilliance as “Alien,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “La Haine”?
For now, we’re going to have to look past “The Force Awakens” trailer, though it spawned the tears of a million nerds. We’re going to ignore “Mad Max: Fury Road,” despite the fact it amps you up more than the huffing of several cans of spray paint. We’re even going to have to ignore the multitude of nightmares induced by the haunting mystery of “The Witch.”
That’s because the most enticing trailer of 2015 is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s astonishingly beautiful teaser for “The Revenant.”
There has not been another teaser in recent memory that delivers the atmosphere of its film as successfully as this one. To say the story of “The Revenant,” based on Michael Punke’s fact-based novel of the same name, is merely brutal would be an understatement. Bringing that story to the big screen in a form that truly captures the intensity of the novel seems almost impossible.
You get a taste for how Iñárritu will do it from some of the tactics highlighted in the teaser. Perhaps most crucial was his insistence that CGI not be used to enhance the film, and when you’ve got a guy like cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki at the lens, why not?
As Iñárritu tells it, “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.” He’s right, not once during “The Revenant” could a single one of the characters ever be mistaken as being even remotely near the term “happy.” So, much to the chagrin of his cast and crew, he shot the whole thing using natural light in locations that apparently took as much time to get to as the time they spent serving as a viable shooting location.
His message is clear: More than anything, if the film is to succeed, it needs to be primal. Its teaser shows us exactly that. How it feels to be hungry, alone, freezing and on the edge of death, driven forth by the pulsating rhythm of man’s most essential motive: Survival.
We see star Leonardo DiCaprio thrown into a few of those situations within the confines of this teaser, but almost more important is the implication that the full film promises us he’s in store for much, much worse.
On his experience filming, DiCaprio said, “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.”
Plain and simple, this trailer is mesmerizing. Let’s hope the film delivers on its promise.