Monday, October 23, 2017
Grammar

The Revenant Delivers Mystery Before the Film Begins

The Revenant seems like a good mystery before anyone sets foot in the theater: you have to look up the title to figure out what it’s about!

The first time I saw a commercial for The Revenant, a new film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I didn’t exactly see the commercial: I heard it. I was cooking or doing something that took my eyes away from the screen.

At first, I thought I’d misheard the announcer, who surely must have said, “The Relevant.”

It turned out, as I later learned, I hadn’t misheard. The word really was revenant.

Before I even considered paying an outrageous amount of money to go sit in a theater to watch a film, I already had a different problem: trying to figure out what the hell the title meant.

When I looked up revenant, I found a surprise. A revenant is a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead. It made its way to English in the 19th century from French and meant, literally, “coming back,” from a form of the word revenir.

So a revenant is like a ghost, right?

Well, not necessarily. Digging deeper, I find this:

A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living.

A visible ghost. Well that’s interesting.

Not all ghosts are threatening, we’re told, but these revenents seem like a unique brand of trouble. Though some were known to return from the dead with a purpose, particularly some kind of revenge, which is the implied meaning of the movie title, others seem to return just to harass their surviving family members.

I suppose that means we should all remember to take time to be kind to our relatives just in case, when their time comes, they get any supernaturally evil ideas.

Have you seen the movie yet? If so, what did you think of it?

1 Comment

  1. Um, huh. I’d’ve thought the same thing you did when you heard the announcer say the title: surely he erred in pronouncing the name. But then, there are a lot of older words not commonly known or used that festoon the English language – almost all of them originating from so many other times, beliefs, cultures and, of course, languages, so why not ‘revenant’?
    Now, I certainly thought you meant ghosts at first, as well. But the wording that caught my eye with the extended meaning was not so much the ‘visible ghost’ as ‘animated corpse’. The direct translation of that would be zombie, would it not? Another bloomin’ zombie film? Say it isn’t so! This is the problem when something becomes “in vogue”; it becomes “overkill”!
    I haven’t heard of it – the film, I mean – but if I had, I don’t think I’d be all that interested. Leonardo DiCaprio really doesn’t do much for me in general (although I did like him in ‘Catch Me if You Can’), and also, it sounds as though it may be a horror film. Again, not my thing. But I’ll take a look at what IMDB has to say about it.
    Oh, I stand corrected: I have heard about this film: and I know why it has the name, as well. Not because I’d seen it, or the trailer, but because I’d read a brief piece on this man. He’d had a really horrendous run-in with a bear, and had crawled back to camp with such cleverer mailings that his two other trapping peers were sure he would not survive. They watched over him for a couple of days, but he went into a coma, and these guys dug a grave, but the bear skin over gum, and then after their vigil, left him for dead, taking his trappers’ equipment with them. The hadn’t actually put him in the grave.
    He survived, however, and caught up (I think) with those men. He came upon some native Americans and they helped to heal him and sewed the bear skin to his to cover up the really serious wounds. He died ten years later – I’ve forgotten how or what killed him) – at age 50 or 51.
    Still, not my kind of film – I suspect it will be far too graphic for me. And I’ll be more upset at the bear getting killed!

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.