The Hollywood Reporter has a feature with director Alejandro Inarritu, still working on The Revenant, which is basically just giving the guy a microphone to clear up those pesky rumors that his production is “troubled”, plagued by a hellish location shoot, budget overages, and scheduling woes. At least Inarritu doesn’t actually deny any of that stuff, instead he just keeps saying how it will all be worth it because his vision is so grand and the movie is so epic and all of the problems will fade when the film is finished and we behold its glory. And maybe that’s true. Apocalypse Now had a famously troubled shoot and that movie turned out to be APOCALYPSE NOW. Rough productions don’t necessarily mean bad movies. Sometimes, they’re the making of all-time great cinema.
But man does The Revenant sound like a nightmare. It sounds like a real-life Tropic Thunder where everyone lost their goddamn minds while making a physically taxing movie—they think their struggle to make this movie is actually the exact same thing as the struggle the early frontier people faced. Come award season, that will absolutely be this movie’s narrative. It will be all about how much they suffered to realize Inarritu’s vision because he’s a f*cking genius and yeah, we were pushed to the brink but it was worth it in the end because the movie is so good. And maybe the movie really will be that good. It kind of looks like a standard Western to me, but let’s just say it ends up being a masterpiece. Does that make it okay to treat people the way they’ve been treated on this set?
I’ve heard complaints for months from people affiliated with this production that have actually made me angry, especially in the wake of the tragic death of Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who was struck by a train on the set of Midnight Rider. At the point that your vision is putting people in physical danger, no dude, sorry. That’s what special effects are for. Sometimes sh*t happens, like Harrison Ford trips on a threshold and breaks his ankle, but other times directors insist on dangerous stunts, like one involving a young actor who had to be legit dragged naked across the ground. But he got a plastic sheet! And he said he was okay! Of course he did—he got a role in a film by reigning Best Director Alejandro Inarritu. He’s not going to risk getting bumped from the part, especially given that Inarritu was freely firing people who challenged him. If Inarritu needed to be laid out on his ass—and it sure sounds like he did—some young kid is not the one who’s going to do it. That’s a job for a veteran. (Lainey: maybe one with an accent, ahem.)
You notice how the problem is never Inarritu? The producer didn’t communicate, the crew members are lying, your expectations were off. Clearly sh*t got out of hand on this production—which is not a quality judgment on the film—but Inarritu seems incapable of owning his part in that. You don’t want to compromise, fine, but then you have to accept that people are probably going to be annoyed with/mad at you because you are putting them through hell. It’s not a conspiracy of lies, they’re f*cking pissed that their job has blown monkey chunks for the better part of the year. To quote the great Raylan Givens: You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day—you’re the asshole.
Click here to read more about The Revenant shoot at THR .