THE REVENANT : amateur DOP analysis

Hey guys hope you all are doing fine. .

okay! Heads up cause this post is gonna take you through some really amazing cinematography techniques  and frames that made the movie “the revenant” to stand out and win its D.P  Emmanuel Lubezki his third consecutive   academy award  followed by his Oscars for “Gravity” and “The birdman” . So undoubtedly Lubezki nicknamed  as  “chivo” (means goat in Spanish) is  on top of his cinematography career and one the top cinematographer in the world

so lets see what really makes chivo different and special in the field analysing some of his brilliant frames in the movie “the revenant”  /oh wait you ever wondered what revenant mean ? well it means  “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.” /

I’m gonna divide this post into two major parts

1.My analysis of  cinematography(The revenant)                                             2.some cool tips from Emmanuel Lubezki himself (from his various interviews)

The revenant: cinematography analysis

The revenant is a movie that is shot in a icy spectacular landscape that in first place gives the movie a different dimension along with the surreal direction by
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
and amazingly driven acting by Leonardo DiCaprio  and Tom Hardy

Most of the scenes in the movie are very wide and wide shots that mostly captures the amazing landscape where the plot is set up , the camera’s are handheld and no external light sources were used so the whole movie runs through natural lightings and that’s what Lubezki is known for  . the whole crew of the movie casts the same opinion on how hard was it to shoot in those extreme weather conditions where monitors and cables froze a couple of times during the shoot . still Lubezki has managed to get the perfect output that Alejandro demanded that just justifies his hard work and passion for his work . there are conflicts or confusions on  how much of the movie was shot using ARRI ALEXA 65 mm cameras but after the movie trailer was released the company really did gain a good response from the fact that their cameras were used and LUbezki himself had quoted that these cameras were really very efficient

The camera work and composition of the shots throughout the movie is more poetic rather than  mechanical. Lubezki is well known for his poetic approach and abstract  frame composition and most of the movie is comprised of ‘audience point-view shots’ that virtually makes the audience to be involved in the movie , that’s what Chivo did  in ‘Gravity’ too , it so affective that you just feel you are inside the movie and you are a part of everything that’s going on . ‘the bear attack’ scene  in “The revenant” and “i hate space” scene from “Gravity” are the best examples .

Some frames in the movie are  repeated several times  at completely different sequences on the plot. I have tried to cluster them below

So here are the sections that caught my eyes as the movie rolled

  1. Low angle shots : a low angle shot , is a shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis below the eye , looking up  . these shots are used to communicate the intricate positioning of the protagonist in the movie



  1. Animal-side eye frame : really didn’t know what to call it though, but two times in the movie there is this unique shot composed where the landscapes are shown having an  animal eye in the frame . . dunno what Lubezki wanted to convey there , i believe it depends on the perspectives of the viewer but  the composition of this shot is really creative and makes you to think ‘why would there be something like this , is there any poetic approach to this? ’ well if you have anything to say about this please comment down


3.Other  brilliant compositions


This one is my favourite of all , the frame shows the whole sequence and the built up story till this particular run time . Hugh glass(Leonardo) and the native Indian who saves his life, his horse , the meet they fed on , last night . all the elements in one frame

I don’t have to say much about the CGI bear attack scene if you have seen the movie . if not well you won’t really get anything that I’m interpreting . all the angles used in the scene lifts up the standards of the cinematography .

And probably the next two images from the movie gravity would just clear all your doubts on whether Chivo really deserves his three academy awards , cause they didn’t give me chance to think whether i should include them in the post while I proclaimed this is all about “The revenant”

Here they are


If you don’t know what are those distant lights , watch the movie again 😉 /no they aren’t stars if you think they are/

That’s her tear drop!


IN “Chivo’s” words (from his various interviews)  :

1.About shooting in natural lights :- he says , cause the movie was shot in large expanses of land it would have been ridiculous  even to try lighting the land mass and the actors and hence using natural light was the ideal methodology

  1. Opinion on very wide lenses :- He claims that very wide lenses add a psychological dimension to the movie as it enables to shoot very close to the actors and still capture the landscapes around them which creates an   immersive and visceral experience to the audience
  2. On his poetic approach :- He says , while shooting the close-up shots using very wide lenses , he could even capture breath coming out of Leo’s mouth and that sometimes would hang to the camera and distort the images , which he thinks is a very poetic way of feeling life through the camera
  3. Preparing himself for a movie shoot :- Lubezki says he listens to conducive music that would transform his senses and would give him a virtual sense of being inside the movie  and he also says he makes the whole crew to listen to the music so that everyone gets into same mindset

Hope this story might have helped in building a creative photographer inside you and would be a reference to the beauty of “Chivo’s” thoughts J

Chivo is also very famous for his Instagram account and following him would give you more insights to his world  , check out this link to follow him

Fare well


One thought on “THE REVENANT : amateur DOP analysis”

comment :

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s