Isn't that always the way?
With past recommendations of films with an historical context I've waited a while - until they're out on DVD - before adding them to my list of movies to look out for. But anyone who's seen The Revenant will know instantly why I'm giving it a mention while it's still on general release.
For a start, I doubt any of us will see a more visually stunning film this year (yes, I know it's only January, but I'm sticking my neck out!).
Now, admittedly, DiCaprio doesn't have a lot to say, but if his performance - his co-star, Tom Hardy, is also a standout - doesn't knock your socks off then the setting certainly will. Filmed entirely in natural light, with no CGI effects to enhance the scenery, snow-topped mountain wilderness has never looked so bleak and forbidding and so hauntingly beautiful.
And, my God, did the director - Alejandro González Iñárritu - put his actors through the wringer. Working for only 90 minute periods towards the end of each day in order to catch the best of the light, oft times they were working in -25c temperatures and it really does show.
For those of you who don't know the plot, it's based on true events. Set in 1823, it tells the story of Hugh Glass, a trapper and guide who, while on a hunting expedition along the Missouri river , is savagely mauled by a bear (the attack will have you hiding behind your hands). Left to die by his comrades it's Glass's struggle for survival and to exact revenge that lies at the heart of the film.
And so to The Dark Valley.
I caught this via a streaming service only a week before The Revenant came out and mention it for a number of reasons. Firstly because it's a cracking little film; secondly, it's set in winter (in this case in the Austrian Alps) and because, spookily, the lead actor - Sam Riley, who's British - bears an uncanny resemblance to one Leonardo DiCaprio. Check out that poster if you don't believe me.
Now, obviously, the two films are worlds apart in both location and budget and, therefore, scale, but the The Dark Valley really does have its moments. It's also a story of revenge and despite the European setting (German language - English subtitles) it is a western in all but name.
Worth checking out if you've 115 minutes minutes to spare...!