The title is derived from the French “revenir,” which means “to return,” and in its noun form it means “someone who has returned.” The inference is … from the dead.

A trapper’s guide in the 1820s Old West is horribly mauled by a grizzly bear. His comrades assigned to stay with him and bury him if necessary, however, don’t like his chances, kill his son and leave him for dead. But fueled by his need to find and punish those who did him wrong, he clings to life. It’s mid-winter, mind you. The movie is so cold you may want to bring along an extra layer.

So it’s man versus nature, but so much more. This is a difficult film to categorize. It is of course a tale of survival and revenge. But it’s done so beautifully that you could call it an art-house-action-thriller. Terrence Malick-meets-Sam Peckinpah.

Leonardo DiCaprio took home an Oscar for this role, and I have rarely seen an actor so committed. And it is a testament to Tom Hardy’s skill as an actor that I didn’t realize the villain was he until the closing credits. The director is Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Oscar) and the cinematographer is Emmanuel Lubezki (ditto).

The bear scene, a fine use of special effects, is almost too intense to watch. But it’s just the beginning of the man’s raw, relentlessly visceral ordeal. Most excellent storytelling. (156 min)

Japanese title: Revenant: Yomi gae rishi mono