Emmanuel Lubezki
Emmanuel Lubezki poses with the Oscar for Best Cinematography for the film "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," during the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Academy Award winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, also known as “Chivo,” joined artistic forces once again with Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu in what has been described as the most extreme and complicated shoot of all times in the upcoming film, “The Revenant.”

The movie follows the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman in the 1800s struggling to survive in a hostile environment, a brutal winter and warring American Indians, to take revenge against the traitorous partner who left him for dead.

Shot in snowy Canada and Argentina, the film had a notorious and difficult production but the conditions were necessary, according to Lubezki. “We wanted to make a movie that was immersive and visceral,” he told Variety. “The idea of using natural light came because we wanted the audience to feel, I hope, that this stuff is really happening.”

This is not the first time the Mexican cinematographer turns to the use of natural light as an aesthetic resource, many of his collaborations with Terrence Malick included it, as well as the acclaimed Mexican film “Y Tu Mamá También.” However, only one scene in “The Revenant” uses artificial light, the campfire sequence. “We had to lay a bunch of light bulbs around the fire to create a cushion of light,” he admitted. “That’s all the light we used.”

Even though some of the cast and crew involved in this project have described this experience as a “living hell,” Lubezki confessed it was all worth it in the end. “The journey really shows when you watch the movie,” he said. Then referring to a scene where DiCaprio comes out of a freezing river with purple lips and his breath is visible, he added: “We would never have gotten anything like that. And while natural light is very complex because it’s constantly changing, which can be a problem for continuity, it’s beautiful.”

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