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.