It’s said that good magicians never reveal their secrets; neither do Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
On the night their frontier drama The Revenant won big at the Golden Globe Awards, the actor and the filmmaker spoke about one of the movie’s standout scenes — a shockingly realistic bear attack — but declined to say just how they pulled it off.
“I’m not supposed to talk in great detail about how that was done because it was Alejandro and Chivo’s very specific work,” DiCaprio said backstage, referring to Inarritu and director of photography Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki. “Alejandro himself watched over 100 different bear attacks but he what creates in that sequence is something almost like virtual reality. It almost awakens other senses, and I think people are talking about it for good reason.”
DiCaprio, who plays the real-life fur trapper Hugh Glass in the movie, added that he thinks the scene “is going to go down in the history of cinema as an amazing, visceral, tactile sort of sequence that makes people really feel like they’re there. And yes, it was incredibly difficult to do, but we rehearsed for weeks beforehand on just that sequence.”
Iñárritu said the scene marked the culmination of several months of work, including his consulting with an expert who interviewed dozens of survivors and witnesses of bear attacks. As harrowing as the scene is, “it’s a very natural thing,” according to the filmmaker. “The mother [bear] feeding their kids. We [humans] do it every day with chicken or with cows or with fish. But this time, we are the prey.”
In order to bring the scene to life, Iñárritu said, “Leo obviously went through very hard physical demands to make this, and every trick possible — from the analogic early cinema days to the most sophisticated CGI things — I used it in order to have audiences witness something they would never witness in real life.”
Reporting by Marc Snetiker