The scene is of the wild west; but instead of the action being fought out in the desert, the events occur in a scenery abounding in the vastness of snow. Leonardo di Caprio is guiding a troop of American soldiers in treacherous territory swarming with native Americans who rightly feel that the descendants of europeans have illegally grabbed their land. His troops have already suffered a devastating attack in which many of their men were killed by the natives and it is his job to find a way through all this to safe territory. The few men left with him depend on him to carve a way through deep forest and tall mountains and winding rivers; all this in the notoriously cold climate.
But fate strikes a cruel blow in the form of a bear who attacks Leonardo savagely till he is badly wounded. The scene of the bear attacking is so real that it was tough to watch. I was watching through the gap in my fingers covering my face. Frankly, after this everyone hopes that Dicaprio falls dead so carrying him won’t be a burden on them. But the captain of the troops offers an award to anyone who will stay behind to take care of Dicaprio. And two men volunteer to stay.
But one of them forces the other to abandon Dicaprio and they leave him to die. Also they kill Leonardo’s half native son (born out of a relationship with a native American woman) who tries to stop them.
So will Leonardo live? Will he survive the bitter cold and the snow? Will he survive the wounds caused by the bear—which fortunately have been stitched by the captains orders? Will he survive the swarms of native Americans swarming the territory with hate for their European descended conquerors? What about the fire of revenge that is burning inside him because of the murder of his son?
Watch the movie for the answers….
The director has created some really tough conditions for Leonardo to survive—watching them is an entertaining ordeal. The colours of the film are dull, which serve to highlight the starkness of the topography and the realism of the film. Photography is splendid; of water dripping from melted snow, of cavalcades of animals rushing through the landscape, of reindeer crossing slithery rivers, of rivers curving through forests of tall trees photographed from high vantage points , of snow gliding down from tall mountains.
All through this Leonardo sees visions of his long dead wife encouraging him on. The fighting is really grim—bullets fired through accurate rifles and deadly arrows fired by native Americans which find their mark. The action lacks the self mocking nature of other films; every fight is a fight for life, for survival against the odds and the film is dead serious with no funny one liners or wise cracks; serious enough to win an Oscar or two.