Tarkovsky and the Revenant

Tarkovsky’s influence on ‘The Revenant’

original copyAndrei Tarkovsky’s visual poetry has long remained within film critic circles and in the realm of film studies. Once exposed, the viewers champion his mastery of powerful cinematic language, the portrayal of soul-searching anti-heroes, and his elaborate well-choreographed long takes. His films are deeply spiritual and lyrical, and his visual storytelling has had enormous influence on popular Hollywood filmmakers. To this effect, his filming style has been borrowed and been exposed to the wider masses.

Now 20 years after Tarkovsky’s death, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant stands a good chance to scoop some of the important Oscars this year. However, the question raises whether this film borrows from the later Russian film master, or indirectly pays homage to it. Although Iñárritu has admitted to being influenced or inspired by Tarkovsky in quite a few interviews, very little has been said about the multiple and striking similarities between The Revenant and Tarkovsky’s body of work. Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Mirror (1975), Stalker (1979), Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986) are some of Tarkovsky’s masterpieces whose scenes, one could argue, have been replicated.

The Russian graphic designer Misha Petrik has produced a comparative split-screen film which is a must-see for any informed cinema lover – especially if you have fallen under the spell of Iñárritu’s latest work, admired Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance, and Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography.

Petrik’s film has caused a bit of internet stir, particularly with Russian and Mexican cinema fans debating over the issue of paying tribute versus blatant plagiarism.  If an Oscar is given to The Revenant this year, Tarkovsky’s shadow may well loom above the prize, which is associated with providing work of excellent artistic merit.

Have a look at Petrik’s film here: