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Film / The Revenant

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"I ain't afraid to die anymore... I've done it already."
Hugh Glass

The Revenant is a 2015 Revisionist Western drama film directed and co-written by Alejandro González Iñárritu and based in part on the 2002 Historical Fiction novel of the same name by Michael Punke, itself inspired by the true story of Hugh Glass.

In the early 1820s, a fur-trapping expedition is attacked by Arikara(Ree) Native Americans when they are only days away from returning to their base of operations with a fortune in furs. Escaping with only a fraction of their original numbers, their frontiersman and guide Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) decides that their best chance of survival will be to abandon their boat and travel overland to reach safety.

On the way, Glass is brutally attacked by a bear while on a hunting foray, and he is left behind with his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and two members of the party to expire and be properly buried without slowing down the rest of the escape. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), deciding that it is too dangerous to wait even for Glass to die, kills his son and convinces Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) that the Arikara are coming for them directly. He drags the still-living Glass into a grave — for the "burial" — and then leaves him for dead. Glass is able to survive through sheer force of will, and makes his arduous way back to their fort on a quest for justice, revenge, and redemption.

The film has become notable for its incredibly ambitious filming schedule, shooting on location in remote parts of the Canadian and South American wilderness and using only natural lighting for its cinematography. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto composed the soundtrack, with additional contributions by Bryce Dessner.

The story of Hugh Glass had previously been put on screen, albeit with the names changed, in the 1971 film Man in the Wilderness.

The movie was given a limited release on Christmas 2015, then went wide in January 2016. The trailer can be seen here.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The film supplies these aplenty, from moments of quietness and character building to Glass' flashbacks and hallucinations. One moment in particular that stands out is when Glass meets a Native American hunting Bison and for a good plus five minutes in the film, they become friends and the Native American helps him out with travel, food and first aid. They even catch snowflakes together at one moment!
  • Achey Scars: Itchy scars at least. In one scene we see Fitzgerald vigorously scratching the part of his head that was partially scalped.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Hawk, while alone with Fitzgerald. He cries out for help when he realizes the fatality of the situation but nobody is in earshot. Then Glass is Forced to Watch Fitzgerald kill his son.
  • All There in the Manual: The names of the important Native American characters like the Arikara chieftain and the Pawnee Glass encounters (Elk Dog and Hikuc, respectively) are not mentioned in the movie but listed in the credits.
  • Anachronism Stew: Fitzgerald claims his father was friends with some Texas Rangers, who weren't founded until 1835 (or 1823 according to some, the year the movie takes place in).
  • And I Must Scream: A rather literal example happens early on in which, in addition to already being immobilized by the bear attack from earlier, he can barely speak any kind of coherent sentence and is completely helpless as he watches his son get murdered by Fitzgerald.
  • Animal Motifs: After the attack and the death of his son, Glass begins to take on some of the same characteristics of the very bear he fought. He wears its hide and uses its claws as a necklace, sets out to avenge his son, and animalistically devours any kind of meat he can find (such as bone marrow, bison liver and fish). He also goes to kill Fitzgerald the same way he did the bear: a shot near the left shoulder, then stabs him repeatedly, only to have him die (albeit at someone else's hand) after a prolonged struggle.
  • Annoying Arrows: Terrifyingly averted. In the opening sequence, several trappers are killed instantly or left screaming in agony as they are skewered by the Arikara's arrows.
  • Anti-Villain: The Arikara chieftain. Despite the savagery and merciless actions of his tribe, his main motivation is to rescue his daughter who's been kidnapped.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the end of the story, the only survivors are Glass, Bridger, the Arikara chieftain and Powaqa.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the last five minutes, Fitzgerald delivers a rather potent one to Glass.
    John Fitzgerald: You came all this way just for your revenge, huh? Well you enjoy it Glass. 'Cause there ain't nothin' gon' bring your boy back.
  • Arrows on Fire: Downplayed. We see these flying overhead in the opening scene as part of the Arikara's attack.
  • Artistic License – History: The real Hugh Glass didn't have any children (that we know of). Neither did he take revenge on Fitzgerald. Also, Fitzgerald didn't actually kill Henry, who lived into the early 1830s.
  • Asshole Victim: The leader of the French trappers.
  • Badass Longcoat: Glass sports one in the third act when he and Captain Henry are hunting for Fitzgerald.
  • Bait the Dog: The French group are first portrayed as reasonable men when dealing with the angry Arikara Chief looking for his daughter. Turns out they were the ones who kidnapped the Chief's daughter while doing business with him behind his back. They lynched a Native American man who saved Glass' life. The leader of the group is shown raping the Chief's daughter, and who knows what other horrors they have done.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Glass is viciously attacked and nearly killed by one. One member of his party recognizes the skill that Glass showed to kill the bear while he was being mauled, but Fitzgerald says he should have just not bothered and let it kill him instead of drawing attention with gunshots.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The film opens with the trapping expedition being attacked by a band of Arikara who storm their camp and force them to flee on their boat.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Fitzgerald causes the revenge plot of the film but is hardly the only source of conflict as there is also the French Trapper leader whose team kidnapped the Arikara Chieftain's daughter and said Chieftain father of said daughter who goes on a rampage as a result mowing down anyone who happens to be near him, though he is arguably an Anti-Villain, in motivation at least.
  • Bilingual Backfire: The French leader is surprised when the Arikara chieftain reveals that he understood all that was said in French.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Glass is established to be a pretty fluent Pawnee speaker when conversing with his son, but when he meets a Pawnee man later in the film, they appear to have at least a little trouble understanding each other. Since the subtitles just refer to Glass's family and Hikuc as "Pawnee," this is probably confusing to a lot of viewers who can't understand the spoken Caddoan dialogue, which clearly refers to Glass's family as Skidi, while Hikuc refers to himself as Kitkehahka; Northern and Southern branches of the Pawnee tribe spoke different dialects of the same language.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Glass gets his revenge, but is alone and wounded on the mountain, on the brink of tears while seeing a vision of his dead wife.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Hawk bleeds from the mouth after being stabbed in the guts by Fitzgerald.
  • Body Motifs: There's a lot scenes when the only sound is the sound of Glass breathing, which ties into the movie's themes of survival. In his opening monologue, Glass tells his son to breathe and keep breathing. And when the movie ends, the last sound is Glass breathing.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The movie ends with Glass looking right into the camera before the the screen fades to black.
  • Buried Alive: Bridger calls Fitzgerald out for trying to bury Glass alive upon which the latter abandons his plan. Eventually, Fitzgerald does bury Glass in a shallow grave anyway, with him still breathing and kicking. Amazingly, this saved Hugh's life, as the thin layer of dirt worked as insulation, preventing him from dying from hypothermia.
  • Came Back Strong: While not exactly dead, Glass still survives his own funeral, drags out of his grave and then returns back to civilisation without any gear or supplies.
    Glass: I ain't afraid to die anymore. I've done that already.
  • Camera Abuse: Happens quite a bit as water, snow, blood, mud, and other gunk gets on camera lenses. The climactic fight between Glass and Fitzgerald is shot with the camera splattered with gunk from beginning to end.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: The dynamics between Captain Henry and Fitzgerald follow this trope, but while Captain Henry is... well, a captain, Fitzgerald is just a really mouthy grunt with minimal authority. And they both work for a fur trading company, not the army.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Glass cuts open the carcass of his horse that got killed when they went over a cliff to hide and sleep for one night.
  • Character Development: Subtle one for Captain Henry. Early on, he was unable to bring himself to shoot wounded Glass and instead declares a hefty prize for anyone willing to stay with him. Later, he manages to calm his anger when preparing to execute Bridger for lying about Glass' fate. In the end however, he doesn't hesitate for even a second when facing Fitzgerald and tries to shoot him.
  • Character Witness:
    • Glass saves Bridger from execution by explaining that he was deceived by Fitzgerald and didn't know about the latter's murder of Hawk.
    • Glass helps Powaqa when she is raped by one of the French. In the final scene, when Glass encounters her again with the Arikara, they spare his life in recognition of his good deed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bridger leaves his distinctively marked canteen with Glass. The object shows up later with the lone French survivor at the Fort, causing an Oh, Crap! moment for Bridger and Fitzgerald.
  • The Chief's Daughter: After the initial Arikara attack on the fur expedition, we learn through their conversation with some French traders that they are looking for the kidnapped Powaqa, the chief's daughter. The fur expedition had absolutely nothing to do with Powaqa's kidnapping at all; it is actually the French who had her all along.
  • *Click* Hello: Captain Henry enters the barracks to capture Fitzgerald after learning the truth. He puts a barrel to the head of one of Fitzgerald friends and cocks the hammer instead of greeting him.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Captain Henry's father was a doctor. An early 19th century doctor.
  • Comforting Comforter: Glass pulls up the sheet for his resting son when the party is camping after the opening battle.
  • Commander Contrarian: Fitzgerald plays this role in the first act when he argues that they should have stayed on the boat.
  • Composite Character: John Fitzgerald is portrayed as having survived a scalping, much like Robert McGee and Josiah Wilbarger. Interestingly, Wilbarger was allegedly left partially paralyzed and forced to drag himself back to civilization, like Glass in the film.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: When Glass is being strangled by a Arikara warrior in the opening battle, a members of his party comes to rescue him Just in Time.
  • Creepy Crows: After Glass treats his throat wound, he sinks back in exhaustion. The next shot shows a crow sitting on a tree nearby, watching the scene with great interest.
  • Cruel Mercy: Fitzgerald to Glass. He explains he can make it quick for him, without any further pain and all Hugh needs to do is blink. After which he stands over him for over a minute, explaining that he will finally have to blink.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: Hugh Glass is out in the woods when he hears an ominous shuffling from the undergrowth. He raises his rifle, aims carefully... and two adorable bear cubs lumber out. Being very genre savvy, Glass immediately starts looking for their mother. He's too late to avoid a brutal mauling.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: The movie takes place in the northern Great Plains during the 1820s. Towards the end of the film Captain Henry refers to the fact that the US Army is expected to be coming out to the area to "civilize" the territory.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Glass finds his Native American friend stringed up on a tree.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Hawk, though he got his facial burn marks prior to the story's beginning.
  • Death by Materialism: Several trappers meet their deaths in the Arikara attack because they stop to try and get some of the party's pelts rather than dumping everything and heading for the boat.
  • Deep South: Fitzgerald makes mention of being from Texas and speaks with a thick Southern/Texan accent.
  • Defensive Failure: Bridger has Fitzgerald at gun point but cannot bring himself to pull the trigger. Fitzgerald knows he has nothing to fear and pulls the rifle out of Bridger's hand. Turns out it wasn't loaded in the first place.
  • Determinator: Hugh Glass is focused on getting back home and murdering those who wronged him, even if it means coping with near-fatal wounds from a bear attack, travelling hundreds of miles mostly on foot with scarce resources and a harsh rural climate.
  • Dirty Coward: Fitzgerald has shades of this towards the end, wherein he makes a run for it and steals all of Captain Henry's funds after he's been had.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Villainous example - Fitzgerald gets shot, few of his fingers get chopped, he takes a knife in the stomach and is still fighting back, while obviously bleeding to death and without any chances to survive.
  • Dream Sequence: Glass has these aplenty, ranging from Foreshadowing of events to come, flashbacks and hallucinations.
  • End of an Age: The Arikara's chief perceives the arrival of white people and their hunting operations this way.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Whenever someone significant to Glass dies or is discovered dead, nature itself reacts.
    • When Hawk is murdered, the trees shake and the wind grows erratic.
    • When Glass discovers Hikuc's hanging body, the air becomes still and even colder.
    • When Captain Henry's body is discovered by Glass, an avalanche happens.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: During his chase after Fitzgerald, Glass takes a break to refill his canteen. He notices a fallen tree in the stream, stands still for a moment and then starts chopping one of the branches. He uses it as a frame for Captain Henry's body, putting it on the first horse, himself hanging over the spare one pretending to be the dead body. Fitzgerald falls for the ruse and shoots Captain Henry for the second time, thinking it was Hugh.
  • Evil Counterpart: The French trappers, who somehow manage to be worse than the amoral, greedy and racist Americans. After all, they are buying back furs stolen from the Americans and setting the natives against them, all of which while secretly raping the kidnapped daughter of the chief who is their temporary ally and casually hanging random Native Americans.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Whilst pursuing Fitzgerald, Captain Henry confides to Glass that he hasn't seen his wife in a long while and is hoping to get reacquainted with her soon. Shortly thereafter he is ambushed and killed by Fitzgerald.
  • Fatal Flaw: Greed for Fitzgerald.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The French fur trappers are introduced drinking and laughing and having a good time all around, with their leader even offering the Arikara Chief a shot of whiskey whilst bartering. They end up lynching the Pawnee who was helping Glass and are revealed to be the ones who kidnapped the Arikara Chief's daughter Powaqa, whom they keep around as a Sex Slave.
  • Fingore: Glass chops off Fitzgerald's fingers with a hatchet in the finale.
  • Flaying Alive: Early in the movie, it becomes apparent that Fitzgerald has previously been victim to at least a partial scalping. He confirms that in a discussion later with Jim Bridger. Finally, a group of Arikara Natives finish the job while killing him at the film's conclusion.
  • Foil: The Pawnee hunter, who helps Glass survive, also lost his family. But unlike Glass, he is trying to move on and tells Glass that revenge is not for them to decide.
    Hunter: My heart bleeds for you. But, revenge is in the hands of the creator.
  • Forced Euthanasia: After main character Hugh Glass is badly injured during the bear attack, Fitzgerald tells Glass to blink if he wants a Mercy Kill. Fitzgerald then stares Glass in the eyes for over a minute as Glass does his best to not blink. Eventually Glass does, and Fitzgerald uses that as the excuse he needed.
  • Forced to Watch: Glass is forced to watch helplessly as Fitzgerald kills his son.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Glass will get better after the bear mauling and will drag himself back to civilisation, as this is the basic premise of the story.
    • If you've heard the name Jim Bridger before, you know that he'll survive this story and become famous in his own right.note 
    • Averted with the ending to Glass and Fitzgerald's story. In the movie, Glass hunts him down and gets revenge on him. In real life, Fitzgerald ran off and joined the military before Glass could get to him, and as it would be a criminal offense to kill a soldier of the military, Glass had to let him go. We probably got a more satisfying conclusion than what happened in real life.
  • Foreshadowing: In one of his dreams, Hugh sees a dead body of a woman, with badly wounded head, bleeding profoundly and submerged under the strong current of a creek. That's how Fitzgerald is left after he's killed.
  • French Jerk: The French hunters trade with the Arikara, but they kidnapped the daughter of the Arikara chief and they use her as a Sex Slave. Moreover they murder Hikuc.
  • Going Native: Glass' backstory shows that he lived with a tribe with his wife and son before it was brutally attacked by military officers.
  • Good Samaritan: Hikuc, the Pawnee who helps Glass when he is wounded and starving.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Fitzgerald is often seen smoking a pipe.
  • Gorn: There's plenty of brutal violence, most of which is depicted very explicitly.
  • Groin Attack: Powaqa slices the genitals off one of the men who rape her.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Fitzgerald despises and frequently insults Hawk, the half-Pawnee son of Glass. He calls Hawk "half-breed".
  • Heal It With Fire: Glass seals his throat wound by covering it with gun powder and then igniting it.
  • The Heart: Bridger is the youngest and the most idealistic of all the expedition members. He is the only one who wants to stay with Glass because that's the right thing to do, not because of money or family ties. He clearly toils under the heavy guilt after realising Fitzgerald's lies. And then there is the scene in the raided Native American village, where he secretly leaves a food ration for the lone surviving woman, without even saying a word.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film ends with Glass lost and injured once again in the snow.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Glass is given a half-Pawnee son as his Morality Pet (whose murder serves as a Moral Event Horizon for Fitzgerald), and a Pawnee wife as his Lost Lenore. That son, and rumors that Glass killed a U.S. Army officer to avenge that wife, make his trapper companions suspicious - while endearing him to modern audiences, as Natives being victims of American expansion is a common theme in the movie. Though the real Glass lived among different Native American tribes, he had no known Native wife nor children, and suspicions about his pre-trapper days would have owed more to him serving under the pirate Jean Lafitte for two years.
    • Captain Henry lets the Arikara be after surviving their attack. In reality, he led a punitive raid supported by the U.S. Army and the Sioux.
      • Given a nod when the captain (under the influence of alcohol) informs Fitzgerald he plans to await U.S. Army reinforcements before proceeding to "shoot some civilization into those fucking Arikara" for the sake of the pelts they were forced to abandon.
    • The Arikara are motivated by white men kidnapping the chief's daughter and making her into a Sex Slave. In real life, the Arikara had been deeply hostile to whites for decades before and continued to be after thatnote . Notably, the Arikara would kill Glass ten years later, while in the film they kill Fitzgerald and let Glass go.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • In the original version of Glass' tale, Fitzgerald's main source of villainy is abandoning Glass to save his own ass, and ultimately Glass has to spare his life because by the time Glass finally tracks him down, he had enlisted in the U.S. Army, and killing a U.S. soldier would have made Glass into an enemy of the United States. Here, Fitzgerald actively attempts to kill Glass, ends up killing Glass' son and later Captain Henry. Also, Fitzgerald didn't simply abandon Glass. His job was to stay with Glass until he died. Glass's injuries were so bad that no one expected him to live and they didn't want him to die alone or miss out on a proper burial. When Glass lived way longer than expected, Fitzgerald left him near a water source still fully expecting him to die given that he was effectively in a coma. Glass only lived because Fitzgerald left him enough supplies to wrap his wounds and set his leg while he let maggots eat his narcotizing flesh to prevent gangrene.
    • Historically, French-Canadian fur traders and trappers - whether licensed voyageurs or unlicensed coureurs des bois - got along far better with North American natives than their American or European counterparts, typically learning multiple native languages, adopting native customs and dress and even becoming full members of various tribes. A large part of this was because France's (and later British-contolled Quebec's) interest in North America was primarily trade, so good relations were paramount. The arrogant, murderous, raping, monolingual French trappers in the film could just be a (very) atypical group acting on their own, but it's still quite a stretch they'd stray so far from the standard French modus operandi that had been so profitable for centuries.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The bear is just protecting her cubs, while Fitzgerald and the French trappers are far more malevolent antagonists.
  • Hunter Trapper: The expedition the main characters were on was fur-trapping trip, intended to bring back pelts for market. They have to leave most of their haul behind when they abandon their ship, which is referred to as them burying a fortune.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In talk with Bridgers, Fitzgerald justifies leaving Glass to die by noting that they had to protect themselves from getting killed.
  • If We Get Through This…: During the posse to find Fitzgerald Henry worries that he won't recognize his wife's face once he gets back home. His concern is rendered moot as he gets killed the next day by Fitzgerald.
  • I Shall Taunt You: How evil is Fitzgerald? With his last, dying breath he mocks Hugh, telling him he should enjoy his revenge because that's all he can have now and there is absolutely nothing that will bring his boy back.
  • Immune to Bullets: The bear doesn't even flinch while being hit by the large-bore rifle at point-blank range. Bears are notoriously hard to bring down, doubly so with pre-modern guns.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Once Hugh gets his hands on a pistol, every shot he makes with it is a hit. Four of which, were during a chase. Averted, however, when it comes to using rifles. The only times he properly lands a hit using a rifle is when hunting Elk with his son in the opening and during the bear attack. Even during the the final confrontation with Fitzgerald, he manages to wound him with a pistol in comparison to when he uses a rifle.
    • Also, Fitzgerald shooting down Glass from his horse (or so he thinks) in a single attempt from hundreds of yards away.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: When Glass escape the Arikara by entering the river, he is soon dragged away by the current towards a series of minor waterfalls.
  • Injun Country: Much of the film takes place in Arikara territory, which borders Pawnee land and leads up to the fort that the expedition operates out of.
  • It's Personal: Glass plans on killing Fitzgerald for leaving him for dead and especially for killing his son.
  • Ironic Name: Despite his surname, Glass sustains a lot of injuries and pain that would kill most.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Henry uses this technique on one member at the fort to press information about Fitzgerald's escape route.
  • Jerkass: As one can tell from the tropes listed on this page, Fitzgerald definitely counts as one of these. Greedy, selfish, rude and murderous are just a few of his personality traits. One scene that stands out is when Bridger finds out that he lied about if the Arikara were approaching where they were at Glass' gravesite. When Bridger has a rifle pointed at him, Fitzgerald snatches it from him and threatens to kill him. He pulls the trigger but it turns out that the rifle was not loaded and then berates Bridger for not having a properly loaded rifle.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Fitzgerald's initial argument that they should leave Glass behind, that the party is unnecessarily endangering themselves by burdening themselves with caring for a man who was very likely going to die from his wounds anyway, does have merit. After all that is what led the Captain to offer a huge reward to those who stayed back with Glass, instead of endangering themselves. Though Fitzgerald's actions immediately following (trying to murder Glass, murdering his son when he tries to intervene, and ultimately leaving him for dead), proves that this is motivated more by his own cowardice and greed than the well-being of his associates.
  • Karma Houdini: The Arikara chieftain. While his motive is very sympathetic (rescuing his daughter who was kidnapped by white men) he is completely indiscriminate in the chase, killing dozens of innocent men who happen to be nearby white men, not to mention causing the deaths of many of his own men and helping further poison relations between the Arikara and Americans. Ironically the one group he doesn't suspect turn out to be the kidnappers and his daughter is rescued by a man his warriors tried very hard to kill.
  • Karmic Death:
    • One of the men who rapes Powaqa gets his balls cut off by her after Glass sets her free.
    • After spending most of the movie being a racist, lying Jerkass and a murderer, Fitzgerald meets his end not at Glass's hands but the Arikara tribe. They then finish the job by fishing him out of the water and even finishing the scalping job he had on the side of his head.
  • Kick the Dog: In the final fight, Fitzgerald decides to mock his son's death to Glass.
    Glass: You killed my boy.
    Fitzgerald: Well maybe you should have raised a man....instead of some girly little bitch!
    • Even before that Fitzgerald does several things that do nothing but establish he's a complete dick, such as forcing Glass into accepting a "Mercy Kill" (he told him to say yes by blinking, then waited a full minute until he had to blink) or his tale on how his father "found god in the eyes of a Squirrel" which prompted him to find that specific squirrel and kill it.
  • Large Ham: Fitzgerald has his moments, most notably when he tells Bridger how his father found God in the eyes of a Squirrel. See Word Salad Philosophy for said context.
    • Glass has his moments as well:
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The French trappers get what they deserve in the end. The Arikara were looking for daughter of their chief all the time, fighting the Americans and working for the French. Turns out the woman was held captive by the French all the time. As a Sex Slave. From the account of the sole survivor of their party the Arikara didn't take that offense lightly. Bonus points for Toussaint, who was busy raping Powaqa when Hugh stopped him. Pawaqa ended up cutting his testicles, just as she promised, for raping her.
    • Fitzgerald's demise from both wounds inflicted by Glass and Arikara scalping him.
    • Beckett and Weston, the two volunteers who set the barge back on the river as a bait for the Arikara. Instead of jumping off the board and joining the rest of the expedition, they've decided to stay and take their chances by the river. Two scenes later the barge is set ablaze by Arikara and both of them are dead. Exactly as Glass predicted.
  • Last-Name Basis: All white people call each other by their surname.
  • Left for Dead: Glass is left to die by Fitzgerald and Bridger.
  • Lens Flare: Fairly often in the film, most notably when Glass reaches the edge of a mountain and the reflection of the sun creates this effect.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Glass and Henry are hunting Fitzgerald. When they think that he is close, they split up. Fitzgerald ambushes Henry and kills him when he is alone.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Hawk was the only thing that Hugh loved and was his reason for living. He even tells Fitzgerald that he now has nothing left worth living for.
  • The Load: After being mauled by the bear, Hugh turns into a serious problem for the rest of the expedition, as he not only requires a lot of careful care, but also needs to be carried around.
  • The Lost Lenore: Glass's Pawnee wife was killed before the start of the film. Glass frequently dreams of her. In particular, he often relives her murder in dreams.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Good lord. Mauled and half-eaten by a bear. Swept away in a waterfall. Fell off a goddamn cliff. And all of this happening in the dead of the brutal North American winter. Nothing can stop Hugh Glass.
    • Both the bear and Fitzgerald takes ungodly amount of punishment before finally dying.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: The posse to hunt down Fitzgerald consists of only two leading characters, a weakened Glass and Henry who was the commanding officer at the outpost.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When Fitzgerald gets his fingers cut off in the final fight with Glass, he gives us this gem.
    Fitzgerald (with an almost annoyed tone): Aw, dammit!
  • Mama Bear: Literally, as the bear attacks Hugh to protect her cubs. And she goes to great lengths to make sure he's no longer a threat. In fact, the first thing that alarms Glass is the sight of the cubs - he already knows in how deep trouble he is now.
  • Man Bites Man: During their final fight, Fitzgerald seems to be biting off one of Glass' ears.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Fitzgerald is a fairly loathsome individual who uses his charisma and ability to tell convincing lies to full effect.
  • Meaningful Name: The title of the book/film itself. In folklore from the Middle Ages, a revenant was a corpse that crawled back out of the grave to terrorize the living.
  • Mercy Kill: In a rare moment of humanity, Fitzgerald suggests this after Glass is mauled by the bear. If it was humanity and not selfishness presented as humanity, at least.
    Anderson: They're torturing the poor bastard.
    Fitzgerald: The proper thing to do would be to finish him off quick.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Wild boar are seen scavenging human remains at an abandoned campsite. Wild boar are native to Eurasia, and while they have since been introduced to parts of North America (and feral pigs are now widely distributed in the southern US), they would not have been around in Montana or the Dakotas in the 1800s.
  • Mountain Man: Glass's stock in trade, he is on the fur expedition as scout and general guide for the area. At several points, before they leave him behind, other members of the expedition point out that he is the only hope they had of survival, and that he is the reason they made it thus far.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bridger is a wreck of man after figuring out there was no reason to leave Glass behind.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: For all of its peerless beauty, Nature is presented more of some kind of hostile wasteland than a land of wonder. From vicious animals, the rampaging Arikara tribes, deceitful and murderous Frenchmen to blisteringly cold and harsh environments, the North American Frontier is unflinchingly cruel to Glass and many other of its characters. As one of the Double Toasted guys put it, "even the grass looks miserable!".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: A rather dark example. Fitzgerald killing Hawk actually gave Glass motivation to live and extract his revenge, rather than succumbing to his wounds from the attack.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Glass often relives the murder of his Pawnee wife in dreams.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • The lone Pawnee, who helps Glass and even builds a sweat lodge for him in the middle of a blizzard, while not owing Hugh anything. He gets hanged by the French trappers.
    • Captain Henry is shot by Fitzgerald and scalped after going with Glass to hunt down the killer of his son.
    • Averted with Glass himself, who saved Powaqa from the French trappers. This pays off in the very end, where he is spared by the Arikara.
  • No Escape but Down: Completely unintentional. While being pursued by the Arikara, Glass' horse was shot and he himself didn't realise he's riding toward a cliff. Thus both he and his horse fall from the cliff. At least Glass had a tall pine to slow down his fall - the horse ended up a as meat source and a temporary shelter.
  • No Name Given: The lone Pawnee, who plays quite a vital role, but we barely learn anything about him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Glass almost has this as his default expression through several sequences in the film, from when the bear cubs show up to when he's forced to go down stream after the Arikara find him.
    • After one of the French trappers arrives at Fort Kiowa with Hawk's canteen, Fitzgerald realizes that Glass is still alive and immediately hightails it with the fort's payroll.
  • Ominously Open Door: When Henry returns to the camp and hears that Fitzgerald escaped, he approaches the countinghouse only to see the door ajar. The implications are clear at this point.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: A cruel variation, where Fitzgerald asks Glass if he wants to be mercy killed. All he has to do is blink. And then he stares at Glass until the latter is forced to blink and then proceeds to try and kill him. One wonders why Fitzgerald bothered with the pretext, since no one but him would ever know, but it was probably a way for him to live with himself after committing murder: this way he could convince himself he was doing what Glass wanted.
  • The Oner: The opening raid of the Native American tribe on Glass and his hunting party is one long, uninterrupted shot.
  • Only in It for the Money: Fitzgerald doesn't like Glass but stays behind to protect him when being offered a reward of $300.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Hugh's whole mission throughout the story is to kill the man who murdered his son.
    • The reason behind the Arikara Chieftain's attacks is to rescue his daughter, Powaqa, who has been kidnapped. One could even argue that he functions as a Evil Counterpart to Glass, as he doesn't care who gets hurt or killed, while Glass doesn't attack or hurt innocent parties despite his single-minded obsession with revenge and even goes out of his way to exonerate Bridger from all accusations.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Fitzgerald seems to have a soft spot for Bridger, deeply buried in his unpleasantness. He saves Bridger during the Arikara's attack on the party, though he uses it against Bridger to force him to go along with his lies. He also tries to give him advice to help him deal with his guilt over leaving Glass. Though whether or not the last one was sincere, is highly debatable. He also offered Bridger some meat, during the "God is a Squirrel" scene.
    • The Chieftain spares Glass after he saved his daughter and also kills Fitzgerald for him after Glass sent him down the river.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Glass is Forced to Watch Fitzgerald killing his son.
  • Playing Possum: Hugh tries to do that early on in his fight with the bear. That includes ignoring a paw crushing his head. It doesn't work really well, as the bear was already busy mauling him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Fitzgerald really does not like Native Americans, even calling Glass' son a "half breed" and calling the tribes "tree niggers". He also makes a homophobic remark to Bridger when it comes to him being friends with Hawk, even calling the latter "your little boyfriend" at one point.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Arikara attacked the expedition because they are searching for the kidnapped Powaqa. The expedition, however, had no involvement in her kidnapping and have no information to give to the Arikara to help them on their quest. All of the deaths on both sides do not contribute anything. When they catch up with Glass, if they had just bothered interrogating him instead of attacking first, he could've told them he'd rescued the daughter, she was safe and nearby, and that he was just trying to get home.
  • Posse: One is summoned to find Glass after Captain Henry got notice of his existence. Later a small posse consisting of Henry and Glass take out to hunt down Fitzgerald.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The film ends with Glass once again injured and alone in the woods, most of the party dead, Glass feeling no better over the death of his son, after indirectly killing Fitzgerald, and unless Glass took the time to search Fitzgerald during their bloody confrontation, it seems all the trappers in the fort lost their money anyway.
  • R-Rated Opening: The opening raid on the camp should be a prime example of how brutal the rest of the film will be. The fur trappers get sliced, shot, stabbed, gutted in all sorts of ways by the Arikara tribe in their rampage to recover the chief's daughter Powaqa. And it's only the first ten minutes.
  • Rape as Drama: One of the French soldiers rapes Powaqa before she is saved by Hugh.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Especially when you are raping the missing daughter of a chief with whom you are trading and whom you are setting against your business competition.
  • Rated M for Manly: Some critics like Gawker and Bob Chipman even call it the most macho art film ever made. In the latter's words (starting around 1:48 in the video):
    Bob Chipman: Yes, the story of Leonardo DiCaprio as a frontiersman who crawls out of his own grave to hunt down the men who left him for dead after a brutal bear attack is sub-textually about the spiritual struggle of man vs nature set against glorious naturalist cinematography and a haunting orchestral score. But specifically, it's about scalping, shooting, tomahawking, head smashing, arrow shooting, dick chopping, hatchet fighting, stick fighting, gun fighting, knife fighting, and bear fighting through harsh wilderness fueled by pure white hot Revenge.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: For the most part, Captain Henry. He's calm, looks out for the well being of his men, and fully apologizes to Glass once he finally returns. However, this title almost slips when he finds out Glass is still alive and he violently takes out his emotions on Bridger (who's completely terrified of him and Fitzgerald).
  • Red Right Hand: Fitzgerald was once captured by unspecified natives. This left him with a very specific trophy - he was going through a scalping when he was saved. Now a sizable chunk of his skull lacks any skin on it.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Amusingly, this saves Bridger's life, when his rifle wasn't primed properly and Fitzgerald was unable to shoot him on the spot.
  • Revenge: The idea of revenge and its costs is a major theme throughout. Repeated twice is the concept that revenge belongs to God alone, rather than to man.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Averted. The first thing Glass says when he has a chance to talk with Captain Henry is that Bridger was just a scared kid following orders, and doesn't deserve any blame for Fitzgerald's crimes.
  • Savage South: Fitzgerald comes from Texas, speaks with a heavy Southern accent, and seeks to escape to Texas with the contents of the company safe when outed as a murderer
  • Scarily Competent Tracker:
    • Glass is showing off his tracking skills in the last act when hunting down Fitzgerald. In one scene he determines the tracks to be no older than half a day.
    • The Arikara are able to effortlessly track down everyone in their territory, often after a few days and a blizzard. Most notably, they've managed to find Hugh after he escaped for a few miles via river, thus not leaving any tracks behind.
  • Scenery Porn: Shot in all-natural lighting by Emmanuel Lubezki on location in the Canadian and Argentine wilderness... how could it be anything else? The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is in full effect there.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Bridger opts to stay with Glass, openly stating his honour debt and denouncing the money promised by Captain Henry. He stays true to his words and never takes the money - especially after realising he left Glass behind.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Fitzgerald pulls this once Glass is found alive by Henry.
  • Sex Slave: Powaqa the Arikara chief's daughter is is kidnapped and being kept as a sex slave by the French trappers, the very men he had been doing business with.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Towards the end of the opening Big Badass Battle Sequence the battle sound drowns out, leaving us with the horrible visuals of the massacre along with a low-pitched sound from the soundtrack.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Reportedly, director Andrei Tarkovsky's visual poetry was a major influence for Iñárritu. The Revenant pays an homage to many of Tarkovsky's masterpieces, like Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, The Mirror, Stalker (1979) and Nostalghia (1983) (see this side-by-side montage).
    • The opening fight at the camp, from both positive and negative reviews, compared it to the Normandy Beach Battle in Saving Private Ryan.
    • The narration, dream sequences and photography bring a lot of comparisons to Terrence Malick. Makes sense, considering the the film's DP Emmanuel Lubezki has worked with Malick many times before.
    • Tom Hardy has noted in several interviews that his performance of Fitzgerald is heavily inspired by Tom Berenger's character in Platoon.
  • Silence is Golden: There are long stretches of the film that don't have any dialogue.
  • Skewed Priorities: As mentioned in The Sociopath, amidst all of the carnage and death of his fellow comrades, Fitzgerald is more bothered by how they lost all of their pelts.
  • Slashed Throat: Glass gets his throat ripped open by the bear. Sometime after he starts moving again, he applies gunpowder to it and sets it on fire to cauterize it. It works.
  • Slasher Smile: Glass briefly sports one of these when he has Fitzgerald in a headlock with his tomahawk during the final fight.
  • Snow Means Death: Many times over.
  • The Sociopath: Fitzgerald is a classic example. During the Arikara's attack on the hunting party, his main priority is preserving the pelts rather than aiding the other trappers. He later requests staying with Hawk and Bridger to watch over Glass only after being promised a reward and then tries to convince Glass to let him do a Mercy Kill, only interrupted by Hawk whom Fitzgerald promptly kills and then lies to Bridger in order to evade suspicion. Later, when he returns to the fort, he spins a yarn about how he and Bridger were forced to leave Glass behind due to a Native American attack and that Hawk stayed with his father, which is enough to convince Captain Henry and offer him the reward.
    • To add onto the bit about mercy killing Glass, it wasn't so much convincing him, as forcing him into it. He tells Glass that if Glass blinks, he will put him out of his misery. And we get an extended shot of Glass trying his hardest not to blink while Fitzgerald keeps telling him to blink so he can put him down. He really wasn't leaving the guy any option.
  • Stress Vomit: Bridger vomits when seeing the horrible wounds on Glass inflicted by the Grizzly.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Although it's grudging and sandwiched in between his It's All About Me Jerkass moments, Fitzgerald does give praise to Glass for being able to take down the bear and for being tough enough to survive the wounds that Glass received.
  • Tactful Translation: During the trade talk with the Arikara chieftain, the leader of the French group mentions he wants a woman with big tits who can cook, but his translator kindly omits this part.
  • Translation Convention: Completely averted. All characters speak in their native languages, without any other translation than subtitles.
    • The biggest example is the conversation between the leader of the French trappers, his translator and the chief of the Arikara. Both leaders speak in their native languages.
    • When Hugh speaks with his son, they both use Pawnee, even if each of them is fluent in English. This works as a great way to show how they identify themselves.
    • The only English word Glass uses when talking with the lone Pawnee is "grizzly".
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Almost the entire film is set in Arikara territory.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Glass' Dark and Troubled Past of his wife being killed by military officers and his son being badly burned during the raid, is explored in flashbacks and dream sequences.
  • Ungrateful Bastards: Most of the expedition members, who are willing to leave Glass or outright murder him just to run faster from the Arikara. A man who was their scout and the only person who knew the region, thus allowing them to survive till that point.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: After a long and harrowing quest to avenge his son, Hugh Glass finally catches and defeats Fitzgerald in bloody fight. But as he is about to land the killing blow, Fitzgerald smugly brings up this trope, asking if Hugh Glass really came all this way just to kill him and saying he hopes Glass enjoys his revenge, "because nothings going to bring that boy back." Though this doesn't stop Glass from pushing Fitzgerald into the river to be killed by the Arikara chief, it does lampshade the Pyrrhic Victory the film ends on.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film takes many liberties with the actual Hugh Glass story — most notable is Hugh Glass's son (didn't exist in real life) and Glass trying to kill Fitzgerald (Glass never laid a finger on Fitz). The poster even says that it's "Based In Part" on the novel about his journey.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • The lone Pawneee is not building just a shack to protect Hugh from the blizzard. It's a makeshaft sweat lodge to help him heal.
    • The reason why Fitzgerald wants to re-enlist is never stated. Back in the day, it was a capital offense to kill a US soldier, regardless of circumstances. This way, Glass would be hanged if he followed through with his revenge.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: As mentioned above. Fitzgerald told Glass that killing him won't bring his son back. But Glass had other plans.
  • Word Salad Philosophy: According to Fitzgerald, God is a Squirrel.
    Fitzgerald: My Pa being one… wasn’t a religious man you, you know? If you couldn’t grow it, or kill it or eat it, then he just plain all didn’t believe in it and that was it. And this one time he hit on up the old Saber Hills. San Saber Hills… He joined up with a couple of Texan ranger buddies of his to hunt, you know. Pretty routine, you know, they done it like hundred times before. Should have been three days of kill, but on the second day, well it all went fucked. Somehow that night he got to lose his buddies… And on top of it all, the Comanches, they went and took the horses, so… He was starving, delirious… And crawls up into this motte, like the group of trees out there in the middle of nowhere… just sticking up in this ocean of scrub… And he found religion. At that moment, he told me he found God. It turns out...that God: He is a Squirrel. Yeah. Big ol meaty one... I found God, he use to say. While I was sitting and basking in glory and subliminal mercy... I shot and eat that sunna bitch.
  • Young Future Famous People: Jim Bridger appears as an inexperienced young trapper. He went on to become a legendary Mountain Man.
  • You No Take Candle: The French survivor coming to the fort talks this way when telling the group about the man he saw out in the snow.