How much can one man take? Hugh Glass was a frontiersman, a mountain man who made his living as a fur trapper and trader. His main claim to fame, if the legend is to be believed, is that when on a fur-trading venture in 1823 he was attacked by a grizzly bear and so badly mauled he was expected to die. It was agreed that two trappers would be left behind to bury Glass when he passed away. Once the other hunters had left the two remaining men stole the unconscious mans weapons and other belongings and took off being feart of an Indian attack leaving him alone to die. Despite his extensive injuries that included festering wounds, a broken leg, and deep cuts that exposed his ribs he regained consciousness and found himself wrapped only in a bear hide that was meant to act as his shroud. After setting his own leg and allowing maggots to eat his dead and rotting flesh to stop the spread of gangrene he set out on a two hundred mile journey back to the nearest settlement. Living off the land, eating raw bison meat left after the beast was killed by wolves and with a wee bit of help from some friendly Indian's he was able to continue on this almost impossible journey.
Hugh Glass's story has been told in book form on many occasions and a feature film had been previously made entitled Man in the Wilderness in 1971 and starring Irish actor Richard Harris. This latest cinematic version of this story The Revenant (2015) is loosely based on a fictional retelling of the story in a 2002 novel by Michael Punke and directed by Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Inarritu previous body of work has include such movie gems as Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010) and 2014's Birdman all of which have been well received by both critics and the viewing public.
The 19th century period drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Glass, Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald and Will Poulter as Jim Bridger the two men that abandoned Glass to die a lonely and painful death. Domhnall Gleason, who you may have previously seen in Shadow Dancer (2012) and Calvary (2014), stars as Andrew Henry part owner of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and leader of the expedition that included Hugh Glass.
There is no doubt that this movie is a very absorbing but brutal and at times disturbing watch. Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is superb as is the acting from all the cast with DiCaprio especially deserving his first Academy Award for Best Actor after three previous nominations, his performance brings the term 'suffering for your art' to a new level. The movie was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, as well as best actor it also won Best Director and Best Cinematography for Lubezki who had previously worked with the director on Birdman. I did read that some critiques said that the film was to long, but I did not find this to be the case instead I found it to be a very rewarding watch but certainly not for the faint hearted.