For a Variety feature called “Contenders: Director on Directors,” director-writer Rod Lurie has penned the following about Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s The Revenant:

“How do you write 200 words about the direction of a film that eventually whole books will be written about? Here’s my shot. What Alejandro G. Inarritu has constantly done, film in and out, is show there is still room to further the art. The Revenant is exactly that: A furthering. It’s what I might call ultra cinema. With a series of seismic decisions — the first ever use of the Alexa 65, shooting only at magic hour, the lack of compromise in violence and unpleasantness, the dispassionate symphonic score, the long long takes — Inarritu places us fully within the constricts and environment of the story. We shiver and bleed and, in a way, beg for our lives alongside the characters.

The Revenant may not be an action film per se, but you’d be hard pressed to find greater or more realistically imaginative action set pieces than the opening Indian battle or the bear fight or Leo riding a horse over a frigging cliff. What Inarritu does better than perhaps anybody is to not just find points of view in these sequences but to actually shift points of view. You are not just experiencing the moments with the characters. It is more than that. You’re surviving with them.

“Somebody once said, ‘Beethoven tells you what it’s like to be Beethoven and Mozart tells you what it’s like to be human.’ There are great Beethoven directors (Kubrick, for example) and great Mozart directors (Spielberg). Inarritu, it seems, is both.”