The Revenant is a 2015 American epic Western semi-biographical drama film directed and co-produced by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and co-written by Iñárritu and Mark L. Smith, based in part on Michael Punke‘s novel of the same name, describing frontiersman Hugh Glass‘s experiences in 1823. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter.
Development began in August 2001 when producer Akiva Goldsman purchased Punke’s manuscript. Iñárritu signed on to direct in August 2011 and in April 2014, after several delays due to other projects, Iñárritu confirmed that he was beginning work on The Revenant and that DiCaprio would play the lead role. Principal photography began in October 2014. Location and crew concerns delayed the film from May to August 2015.
The film premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre on December 16, 2015 and had a limited release on December 25, expanding on January 8, 2016. It received positive reviews from critics, with the performances, direction and cinematography receiving praise. The Revenant won three Golden Globe Awards, five BAFTA Awards and at the 88th Academy Awards, Iñárritu, DiCaprio and Emmanuel Lubezki won the awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Cinematography, respectively. DiCaprio also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actor and BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
In 1823, Hugh Glass guides Andrew Henry’s trappers through unorganized territory. While he and his half-Pawnee son Hawk are hunting, the company’s camp is attacked by an Arikara war party. Glass recommends that the survivors travel on foot to Fort Kiowa, as traveling downriver will make them vulnerable. After docking, the crew stashes the pelts near the shore.
Glass is badly mauled by a grizzly bear and left close to death. Trapper John Fitzgerald, fearful of another Arikara attack, argues that the group must mercy-kill Glass and keep moving. Henry agrees, but is unable to pull the trigger; instead, he offers money for someone to stay with Glass. When the only volunteers are Hawk and the young Jim Bridger, Fitzgerald agrees to stay to recoup his losses from the abandoned pelts.
After the others leave, Fitzgerald attempts to smother Glass but is discovered by Hawk. Fitzgerald stabs him to death as Glass watches helplessly. The next morning, Fitzgerald convinces Bridger that the Arikara are approaching and they must abandon Glass. After they depart, Fitzgerald admits he lied. When Fitzgerald and Bridger meet Henry at the fort, Fitzgerald tells him that Glass died and Hawk vanished.
Glass begins an arduous journey through the wilderness. He performs crude self-surgery and eludes the pursuing Arikara, who are looking for the Chief’s kidnapped daughter Powaqa. Glass encounters Pawnee refugee Hikuc, who says that “revenge is in the Creator’s hands”. The men share bison meat and travel together. After a hallucinogenic experience, Glass discovers Hikuc hanged by French hunters. He infiltrates their camp and sees the leader raping Powaqa. He frees her, kills two hunters, and steals Hikuc’s horse, leaving his canteen behind. The next morning, Glass is ambushed by the Arikara and driven over a cliff on his horse. He survives the night by eviscerating the horse and sheltering inside its carcass.
A French survivor staggers into Fort Kiowa and Bridger recognizes his canteen as Glass’s. Believing it stolen, Henry organizes a search party. Fitzgerald, realizing Glass is alive, empties the outpost’s safe and flees. The search party finds the exhausted Glass. Enraged, Henry orders Bridger arrested, but Glass vouches that he was deceived and reveals Fitzgerald murdered his son. Glass and Henry set out in pursuit of Fitzgerald.
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