With its savage landscapes and tough filming conditions, survival drama "The Revenant" is an "homage to great filmmaking", Academy Award-winning Mexican director Alejandro G. Inarritu says.
Inspired by real events, "The Revenant" tells the story of fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who on an expedition in the 1820s was mauled by a bear and left for dead by his team.
He survives and sets out to exact revenge on those who abandoned him.
To give the film an authentic feel, Inarritu, who last year won the best director and best picture Oscars for "Birdman", cut back on special effects, using natural light.
"This is [an] homage to how the filmmaking was done in the origins and the great filmmaking of going to the real places and not modify ... or play with pixels and computerized images," he told Reuters in an interview in London.
"The Revenant" was filmed in Canada and Argentina; cast and crew endured tough outdoor locations and harsh weather conditions.
"It was not a comfortable shoot at all," Inarritu said. "But in that sense it's what the film is about and it has its rewards ... it really portrays nature as it is, not in the way we see it in a park but as it is for real."
Will Poulter, who plays Glass' young apprentice Bridger, added that the trying conditions allowed for a more authentic performance.
"As hard as it was, I think we also were very, very grateful though that we were getting such a real experience. There was less around to take you out of the actual environment that your characters were operating in," he said.
The film, which opened in the United States on Jan. 8 and hits U.K. cinemas this week, looks likely to be an Oscar frontrunner after picking up three awards at Sunday's Golden Globes - best drama film, best drama actor for DiCaprio and best director for Inarritu.