I initially assumed that the beautiful mountaintop avalanche that Leonardo DiCaprio witnesses during the final third of The Revenant was digitally created. Then I read in a 12.22 N.Y Times interview with director Alejandro G. Inarritu that it was entirely real. David Segal writes that Inarritu “is known for exasperatingly high standards and fiendishly complex stagings, which in this movie included a helicopter-induced avalanche that had to be perfectly timed with several actors and a horse.” Not quite — just Leo and a single horse share the shot. A helicopter triggers an avalanche, one presumes, by hovering over virgin snow at the top of a mountain and thereby pushing loads of the stuff off a cliff. Another way to have done it would have been to fly a physical effects guy to the peak and have him detonate an explosive. A seriously impressive feat by any standard or measuring stick.
A portion of a Revenant piece by The Concourse‘s Rob Harvilla: “But first, let us discuss the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio, playing a uber-badass 19th-century American outdoorsman, flees a party of bloodthirsty Native Americans, rides his horse off a cliff, lands in a giant Christmas tree, crashes to the ground, lies there unconscious for awhile, jolts awake, crawls over to the now-dead horse, guts it, strips naked, and slides inside it for warmth, pulling the stomach closed like a Carhartt coat.
“Three things: 1. This actually happens. 2. It is ridiculous. 3. It is also fuckin’ awesome.
“Verily, director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (drunk with power thanks to the Oscar he won for last year’s Birdman) and DiCaprio (impotent with rage thanks to the Oscar he has not won, for anything) have conspired here to make the artiest manly movie ever, or the manliest art movie ever, whichever is manlier. It is Blood Meridian as soundtracked by Godspeed You! Black Emperor; it is one of America’s finest and most famous actors going Full Dothraki. There’s a guy in this thing credited as ‘Dave Stomach Wound.’ Chicks should not even bother. Like 12 dudes catch an arrow in the head in the first 10 minutes.”