The Revenant is playing on HBO, so if you haven’t seen it, see it. I was channel surfing last night and caught the last 45 minutes or so of the movie, and was (again) blown away by the camerawork, so went Googling to learn more about how it was shot.
This came back; an article from P. Scott Sakamoto, camera operator on The Revenant, and it’s worth reading in full….
The Revenant: Shooting In the Elements
Above photo: Leonardo DiCaprio stars in THE REVENANT, an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man…
But especially this bit, about the avalanche at the end of the movie. Emphasis mine.
One of my favorite shots on the movie was a shot of Glass, discovering that one of his key guys has been shot and killed. He discovers the murder and hears a thunderous roar in the mountains behind him. Glass turns his head and looks up to see an avalanche of snow cascade down the mountain. This visual is stunning on screen and does not employ any CGI. The success of this shot required the camera and Leo to react at the exact moment an avalanche was triggered via dynamite that was dropped from a helicopter. It’s a very emotional moment for Leo and a very technical filmmaking moment that had to be timed perfectly. … This was an amazing shot — but very nerve-wracking, as we only had the one chance to get it right. The result was a perfect blending of everyone. It’s a really great cinematic moment where the acting and technical aspects of filmmaking come together.
Spoiler alert I guess, but when I saw the movie the first time, I expected the avalanche to have a much bigger impact on the plot of the movie (thanks, Snowfall); and so knowing the amount of work that went into this shot that didn’t have massive plot importance is even more impressive.