The Cinematography of the Revenant

0W5A0015-Edit Before 3-11


Ben’s After Before Forum “is a place where photographers of all levels can show how they get the wow in their photography”.

I started with the Lightroom, then combined a number of filters through the Efex Pro Color 4 to get the after version (above). Below is the before photo.

0W5A0015 Before 3-11



After watching the Revenant, I was compelled to read about how it was filmed and where. Altas of Wonders and a couple Internet sources tell the stories behind the cinematography. Here are the highlights:

The 11 months of shooting was notoriously complicated. The Mexican director AG Iñárritu (Birdman, Amores Perros) was very clear from the beginning: it would not be a green-screen production; 93% of the movie takes place in exterior locations. The filmmakers were looking for remote locations to give the feel of wilderness in snowy virgin conditions.

Most of the film was filmed in Kananaskis Country, an area of parks and reserves in the Canadian Rockies. Some parts were filmed in Libby in Montana, US. Last scenes were shot on the southern South America and the small Olivia river was near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

Iñárritu wanted to shoot only in natural light, and did 90% of the time, which added great difficulty. They had to wait for weather and light to align for the perfect shot, deal with cold and wet; and besides days were short during the winter. But, he wanted the audience to feel that “this stuff is really happening”, and nature light is the way to achieve that.

“A couple of times I fell in the frozen river,” Iñárritu recalls nonchalantly, “To go back and change takes half an hour, so you have to really think if it’s a good idea to change in that moment and lose the light that you’ve been waiting for.” 

He stated that he will never again make another movie like this, because “I am a crazy man, but not stupid”.

While watching the movie, I thought he was crazy, but brilliant. Have you seen the movie?


49 thoughts on “The Cinematography of the Revenant

  1. Good morning, Amy,
    Thanks for the interesting info about shooting “The Revenant”. As much as I believe there must be wonderful nature shots, I don’t think I want to see the movie. Not my type of story. Too gory, judging by the previews.
    As to before and after: I really like the result here.
    Have a great day,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s on our list for sure. Maybe this Sunday. It’s especially interesting to us because we do mountain man rendezvous, so the history of this story has a connection. Love the flower too!


  3. I enjoyed your photos Amy. I have chosen not to see The Revenant, because there’s so much violence, and it is my experience that overall, nature is not so violent. Quiet flowers, like you have here, are more my style. I hope you have a really fun weekend Amy~~

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Amy, interesting before and after shots. I’m still educating myself on the nuances of Lightroom, my one complaint is sometimes it makes my photographs too light!! An easy fix, however. My husband and son saw The Revenant, and thought it was great – they knew not to ask me to join them – I’m such a baby about that kind of movie! I’m with Jet, I like quiet flowers! Have a great weekend,


  5. I really like this fun edit. Lightroom is a mystery to me still, but soon I will need to buy a laptop and new software….then, I will be asking how do I…?


  6. I didn’t want to watch The Revenant. I saw the trailer and made up my mind to skip the movie. Last Wednesday I fancied to go to the cinema, and there was nothing to see but the Revenant. So I just bought the ticket and found myself in the empty theater. Alone. Before the movie began, they run some trailers, and I was very ‘lucky’ to watch The Boy and Cloverfield. Something to remember…
    It was a good movie, but overflowed with unnecessary violence.


  7. Hello dear Amy! I love your photos, they are fantastic!

    The cinematography of the movie was indeed terrific but I left feeling really down. The whole theater kind of let out a collective sigh and it was very silent. Weirdness.


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