Lubezki is Sharing Amazing Making Of Photos from 'The Revenant'

November 27, 2015

The Revenant Photos

The master let's us take a look through his lens. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, known as "Chivo", is very likely going to win his third Oscar for filming The Revenant, the latest from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (they also made Birdman together). The film opens in theaters later in December, but is getting early rave reviews for it's remarkable cinematography. Every last scene was shot using only natural, real light - no Hollywood tricks or lightbanks, it's all authentic. Lubezki joined Instagram a few years ago, but recently has been posting shots of various people and scenes from the filming of The Revenant in Canada (which went on for almost a year during late 2014/early 2015). Many of these characters are background characters, but they're definitely in it. Lubezki is a true master and every shot he takes is stunning to see.

Here's some of the best photos from Emmanuel Lubezki's Instagram during the making of The Revenant:

For even more photos from Lubezki, follow him on Instagram @chivexp. Watch The Revenant trailer here.

Inspired by true events, The Revenant is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. The Revenant is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Oscar winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel). Fox will release The Revenant in theaters on December 25th, Christmas Day.

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Reader Feedback - 28 Comments


Well, I just don't agree. I found the photos to be okay, but nothing to shake a stick at. Again, it's so easy, at least for me, to see where they fall short because they are digital and not film. There just is no comparison and I found many of these shots, especially the close ups of the different faces, to be seriously lacking in comparison to what they could have looked like on film. It amazes me how so many just settle for these digital works and forget the beauty of film. There is just no comparison to my eye; it's not even close. I'll also tell you this, being a fan of the early '70's film of this exact same story titled Man In The Wilderness, which was shot on film and I watched again just a few weeks ago it looks much, much better than the shots and the trailers I've seen of The Revenant, which to me look a little bit too artsy, fartsy, like they are trying to hard to make their film look like I don't know what, and seemingly has nothing to do with the subject, themes, etc. of the movie. It, the look of it, just isn't working for me. It's not even close. And I anticipate that The Revenant will more than likely be a better film than the original, but it won't look as good. I wasn't impressed with the photography, or the picture for that matter, of Birdman and I'm a huge appreciator of the director's work. Especially 21 Grams. What an incredible, gritty, dark, truthful film. Just incredible amazing work. Great script too, and I think the director's work has suffered since he parted ways with his great, long time writer of his first few films. That would be in my opinion, of course. And hey, I like artsy, fartsy photography. I studied black and white photography at Arizona State University back in the early '70's and the whole department was of the Ansel Adams school of photography. And Adams was the master of black and white photography. It was all film, of course. I wonder what Mr. Adams would have thought of all this digital stuff. Ummmmmm.....

Guest on Nov 27, 2015


I don't understand you. Most of these pictures are astonishing. With no lights no less. Shooting something on film doesn't make a photo nicer. It adds a gritty quality, but these would look the same or worse if they were shot in film. Digital is simply better in almost every category. Better quality, cheaper, easier to edit, easier to backup, easier to film, etc. Birdman may not have the best visuals ever, but it is incredible how Lubezki crafted such a wonderful film. It was different which you can't say about most films now a days. You seem to be stuck in the past and unable to accept change. Art is something that must change and evolve. Just look at the renaissance. Those who dare to push the limits and try different things deserve a lot credit. In the end it may not be perfect, but will help future projects.

Josh Engel on Nov 27, 2015


Interesting that you don't understand me, Josh. I thought I expressed my opinions and perspective quite well. Perhaps you have difficulty understanding opinions different from your own, even if they are well stated and intelligent and come from experiences and knowledge you yourself don't possess. I've no problem with your opinions and perceptions regarding film vs. digital. I emphatically disagree with them and am comfortable with that disagreement. I see you as totally wrong in your assessment that digital is 'simply' better in almost every category. I do not think it is better quality at all. Quite the contrary. And although I understand filmmakers wanting to shoot digital because it is cheaper, easier to edit, easier to backup, easier to film, etc. I have no interest in those examples. Not in the least, as they do not address my complaints with the aesthetics of the differences in the two methods. Aesthetically, film far, far outweighs digital and always will and for that reason alone, I will always love viewing film much more than digital. If that means I am 'stuck in the past,' which I view as a simplistic accusation without any intelligent merit, than so be it. I don't care! It's pretty simple. To me, from your heartfelt response, it just seems we differ from one another aesthetically and I will stick with mine, thank you very much and have no use for yours. Sorry, I don't mean you any harm, but I find your aesthetic comprehension seriously lacking. Just my opinion, so I wouldn't let it upset you. It seems you think the same of mine, and that doesn't bother me in the least. I am very, very comfortable with my sense of aesthetics and the history that carries for me. Dwelling in the past? I think not. I think the appreciation of aesthetics is seriously lacking in today's modern culture and sadly many younger people haven't a clue about it at all. They are too involved in the technology and the ramifications of simplifying their working rather than the beauty of what is being created. Anyway...blah blah blah...who cares? for you response though. Peace...and cheers!

Guest on Nov 28, 2015


I also have studied a lot of photography and also strongly prefer film over digital almost 100 percent of the time but frankly, youre being a little bit of an ass. Use your education and skills and personal preferences to make great art, not demean people.

jay on Nov 29, 2015


Yes, Mommy! You're 'un-solicited' advice reveals more about your ego needs to self-aggrandize through taking the role of the 'critical parent' than perhaps you seem to be conscious of. Which is typical of that specific need you obviously possess. In the words...who asked ya? It also is just you opinion of me and why on earth would you think I would the least bit interested? Again, you really seem to be operating on a very un-conscious level with no self-awareness. People seem to get on that trip because it is easier for them to point their judgmental fingers at others rather than at themselves where it belongs. Last, but not least, if the 'being a little bit of an ass' statement didn't make me want to vomit while chuckling at the same time, your last sentence is really beyond the pale. Get off your high horse, Jay! That last sentence is embarrassing and typical of that type of advice stupid teachers and priests give to people out of their own robot and programmed selves. Thanks, just the same, but if your parental role playing robot-self doesn't mind, and even if it does, I believe I'll ignore your childish and immature advice. Grow up and look in the mirror, Jay. That's where we all find the real ass. You would know better, if you simply took the time to read my posts...this isn't a dog you want to just are not up to the task, man! Cheers! And peace!

Guest on Nov 30, 2015


lol bro, chill. You seem like a blast at parties. Settle down and drink some tea or something. Youre right, I dont think I'm up to this. Im more for civil discourse than strange and unnecessary anger and belligerence.

jay on Nov 30, 2015


I'm just having fun with you, Jay. You really do seem to take yourself, and your opinions of others pretty seriously. I just re-read my posts, which didn't even involved you, by the way, and just don't see the 'demeaning' others you accuse me of. I fear your parental programming has you confused, but it's your reality and not mine. I confronted someone about their asinine and incorrect, thus ignorant, assessment of ASU. You didn't seem to have any problem with them putting down ASU, and me. What's with that, man? Only with my 'correcting the situation' and the manner I did so. Re-read my post, Jay. I state to them I mean no harm and wish them cheers and peace. You got a burr up you ass around me, and many others I'm sure, but that's on you, buddy. You just can't resist advising me to 'settle down, drink some tea, get laid' so all my words to your critical parental advice fell on deaf ears. Which means to me that the roar of your internal voices far outweighs what is being voiced outside your head. You don't really listen, Jay. Only judge from an immature and critical parent position. It's boring and lacks intelligence! Your problem would seem to be in your interruptations, Jay. I am not angry. That's silly. Perhaps confrontations intimidates and scares you so your Mommy or Daddy taught you it must be belligerent. Again, that's silly...and more than a bit self-righteous. Grow up, Jay. Discover where you got all these judgments and ways of thinking. Otherwise you will remain a husk of your real self. And let's not bother to continue. We're operating on two different levels and I'm not interested in yours. Your 'civil discourse' is a lie as you think you can criticize the likes of me and give advice not asked for and not be confronted for it. Again, a sign of heavy immaturity and self-righteous indignation presented with a serious lack of self awareness. Take care of yourself, Jay. Leave me alone as I don't regard your advice as worthy of my consideration as it's self-centered and not really caring of me. Righto cheerio! Now shoo, fly, go I'm chilled man, I'm having fun schooling someone without self-awareness in hopes that my belligerent outpourings to you will plant a seed and help you. Possible? And remember, you asked for all this. Think about that the next time you want to butt into a conversation other people are having. Eh?

Guest on Nov 30, 2015


"interruptations" good. Im just so confused here. I think I might be a victim of really good trolling.

jay on Nov 30, 2015


still loling at this incredible trolling, Bo

jay on Feb 11, 2016


Lol. Don't name drop your alma mater if it's Arizona State, dude. It's not going to strengthen your argument for a lot of people.

Penkalski on Nov 28, 2015


Sorry to have to bust you on your ignorance, Penkalski...well, actually I'm not. I take great pleasure in revealing to you when I went to ASU to study photography I did so after extensive research as to the best place(s) to study the field in the country. The Photography Department at Arizona State was one of the most highly respected because of the professors there teaching the art form and their involvement with and studies with the great master himself, Ansel Adams. It proved to be the case for the year and a half I went there. I only took photography classes, so I have to idea what the rest of ASU is or was like and didn't care and still don't. It is not my alma mater as such things as that do not interest me. I never graduated, nor cared to from ASU. I only went to study photography, which I did and am still grateful for that fact. I hope my friendly response to your funny comment has at least some effect in the elimination of some of your ignorance in the matter of the art and aestheticism of black and white still photography. You can thank me if you wish....dude...but it's not really really isn't because as I's my pleasure to have done so...even if I didn't succeed in doing Peace...and cheers!

Guest on Nov 28, 2015


Yay for real people! Yay for natural light! Yay for the craft!

DAVIDPD on Nov 27, 2015


Thanks you just explained to me the nagging uncomfortable feeling while watching the recent Warcraft trailer.

Mr. Kaneda on Nov 30, 2015


Deakins is a world-class amateur compared to Lubezki. That's saying something.

Bloost on Nov 28, 2015


That's complete horseshit! You're not saying 'something''re saying your opinion, which lacks intelligence, knowledge, civility and appreciation. You like Lubezki's work...okay...but to exhibit such ignorance regarding the great work of Deakins's just stupid! Good god, man!

Guest on Nov 28, 2015


I just don't agree with Deakin's choices. His recent work hasn't been up to snuff.

Bloost on Nov 28, 2015


I agree with you totally. For me it's of interest that his recent films he shot digitally. Look back to No Country For Old Men...amazing...just beautifully shot.

Guest on Nov 29, 2015


Hey @disqus_yyq0lnHEEt:disqus ...who are some of your favorite DP's ? Im a huge fan of Conrad Hall, Deakins, CJ Fukunaga, Janusz Kaminski, Robert Yeoman, Ernest Dickerson and Donald McAlpine. (Wow. That was a lot.)

Duane on Nov 29, 2015


Oh my...there is so many, Duane. I'm going to no doubt misspell some of their name, but I'm too lazy to look it all up. The great Vittorio Storrario (Apocalypse Now, Reds, Last Tango In Paris) Gordon Willis (the Godfather films) Owen Roziman (Network and many others) Nestor Alamendos (Days of Heaven and many others) Lazlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zigsman (man I really screwed up their spelling) a few men Woody Allen and Scorsese have used, of course Conrad Hall and Kaminski. Many of them from the old days before digital hit. Guys who worked in the '70's. Too many to mention, Duane. I also like Dickerson and McAlpine. You seems to have a good grip on some of the great DP's. Excellent. Cheers!

Guest on Nov 29, 2015


Deakins is pretty dang good. He's one of the few who can compete with Lubezki.

Alex Billington on Nov 28, 2015


You have no idea what you're talking about. It is common knowledge in the greater film industry that Deakins is one of the most highly regarded and respected cinematographers in the world.

evilED on Nov 28, 2015


Lubezki is more ballsy, I'll give him that. He seems to be more focused on movies that are a challenge to cinematographers in some way (CGI integration in Gravity, Long shot in Birdman, All natural light in Revenant), but Deacons serves the story. The reason he has never been the household name that Lubezki has become is because he serves the story over any sort of gimmick or challenge. I love and respect the Hell out of Lubezki, but I love Deacons more because the story comes first at all costs, even if that means he doesnt get to be as flashy

jay on Nov 29, 2015


I disagree. Lubezki doesn't do these "gimmicks" for the sake of it. Natural light is never a gimmick, first of all. Second, he manages to convert these challenges and make them pure visual storytelling. Birdman, for example, has a very good reason for the long shot: it's about us being the spectator in Riggan's mundane existence. The compositions he uses to get across the point is subtle yet effective. By the way, I'm not disrespecting Deakins. He's one of the best right now, for sure. When I said "that's saying something", I mean you have to be really good in order to beat him, in my opinion.

Bloost on Nov 29, 2015


I dont disagree really with what youre saying. Gimmick was a poor word choice, I dont mean to imply that what Lubezki is doing is just performing some cheap tricks to look cool or anything. I guess there were just a few scenes in Birdman which I thought really would have benefitted from a cut (the rooftop scenes between Norton and Stone, for example, seemed like a cut would have really helped both the framing and the pacing of the story). I appreciate that he is tackling huge challenges and committing to them 100% and succeeding almost entirely, but Im sure there will be at least a few shots in Revenant where I will find myself thinking 'wouldnt this shot look better with just a little kick light to fill out the back?', or 'Wouldnt this shot be more effective with a harder light somewhere?' I think sometimes the shots suffer from the total commitment to these creative challenges and in turn, the story as well. But i know Im being picky, so im definitely not saying your opinion is wrong.

jay on Nov 29, 2015


Art is, as they say, "in the eye of the beholder". These photos are true art whether digital, film or done with crayons. And I should know, I didn't go to Arizona State when I studied fine art. 😉

Todd on Nov 29, 2015


What's with this high and mighty judgment about Arizona State? You and the other guy, Penkalski below, willingly display your complete ignorance regarding ASU's very highly regarded and very highly respected photography department. What's with that? It reveals something about both of you so willing to display your ignorance with your dysfunctional need to make yourself bigger and smarter by judging something which you know nothing about. It's embarrassing, Todd. Do your homework and go see a shrink about this judging trip you're on which you do being so totally off base about what you're judging. I won't repeat myself, read my reply to Penkalski's same comment below. I went to ASU in 1970 to specifically study photography because their department, at that time, was one of the best in the country. Who said anything about studying fine art? At a college? Fine art. That's pretty common which makes it pretty lame. To end this childish silliness with you...I don't give a hoot about Arizona State and haven't a clue what it's about and don't care. I have no loyal feelings towards that University. I will tell you this, I studied at their photography department taking no other classes but photogrpahy and it proved to be the real deal and was indeed one of the best in the country. Do your homework and research before you shoot your mouth off making an idiot out of yourself. You guys sound and act like dorks and nerds and immature frat rats judging different schools and actually believing that where you went is the best. That too is so embarrassing I wonder why I'm wasting my time with you. Grow up! Wake up!

Guest on Nov 29, 2015


Dude. Take a joke and chill. That was why I put the ";)". I received my BFA and MFA from another school in photography (which is usually part of a fine arts department) and now live in AZ. I have a good friend who is a professor at ASU in fine arts/photography and I am occasionally asked to talk to ASU classes due to my work in advertising. I agree it's a good program. I just thought it was funny how people judge good or bad photography. Apparently not that funny.

Todd on Nov 29, 2015


Okay, I'll take a joke and a good suggestion. Thanks. I'm an old dog and didn't have a clue what the hell 😉 means. Still don't, for that matter. Sorry. I missed the being funny thing and I'm a fine appreciator of laughs and especially irony. I re-read you original post and guess that soap-box that was near me when I first read it was too enticing and I jumped up on it to rant and pontificate. Again, sorry. That being said, that was the whole deal when I was at ASU in 1970. Take a photo, develop it, print it, mount it and show it each week in class where the prof. would judge it to be a good photograph or a bad one. Let me add, my whole problem is with digital movies. I hate them. Hate the look. It simply does not look as good as film. Not to me and it never will. We'll see. I've no real problem with the stills shown on this thread. They didn't do much for me regardless if they were shot on film or digital. I would assume that being in advertising, as you mentioned you were, everything is digital? That's a horse of a different color. As far as movies, they haven't yet and doubt they will match the look of film. Just refer to Spielberg, (who, if I'm correct, has yet to shoot a film using digital), Scorsese (who just shot Silence...on film) and Tarantino (who is worse than I am regarding digital). Anyway, thanks for your respectful, intelligent, and funny response to my soapbox rant. I appreciate it. Chilling out here, Boss. (that 'boss' thing is from Cool Hand Luke, by the way. Shot on

Guest on Nov 29, 2015

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