The Revenant Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Revenant is a true story of overcoming, selflessness & revenge. The Essence Of The Film “The Revenant” With DiCaprio, Plot Analysis, The Meaning Of The Ending.

Country: USA

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Historical, Action Western

Year of production: 2015

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleason, Forrest Goodluck

In the film The Revenant, the hero DiCaprio showed an incredible fight between man and nature, from which he emerges victorious. The essence of the film “The Revenant” (The Revenant) – that you need to fight for life until the last breath. And also in the value of such human qualities as honor and dignity, love and faith in justice.

History of creation

The film is based on the true story of hunter and tracker Hugh Glass, who, after a fight with a grizzly bear, not only survived, but also crawled more than 300 km to a rescue hunting camp.

Hugh GlassLeonardo DiCaprio starring Hugh Glass. Frame from the film.

The script for the film was ready in 2001, it was written by Akiva Goldsman (screenwriter of the films Hancock and I Am Legend). But shooting for various reasons was postponed for 10 years. The script was rewritten several times from scratch, producers and directors changed.

Only in 2011, Alejandro González Iñárritu started working on the film. He immediately invited Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn to the main roles. But the start of filming was again postponed, as a result, Penn was replaced by Tom Hardy.

The director initially relied on realism, scale, as a result, the shooting took place in three countries on two continents. The budget of the picture at the end of the work exceeded the planned amount three times, but the result was definitely worth it.

Especially for the film, the decorators erected several Indian villages, a fort, a hunters’ camp, and real ruins of a church. Production designer Jack Fisk worked from drawings and drawings from the early 19th century. The scenery was even specially aged, which took more time than the construction itself. The scenery of the destroyed church was made in the same style as in the film “Andrei Rublev” by Tarkovsky.

Initially, Alejandro González Iñárritu wanted to do only natural shooting, but certain scenes were impossible without computer graphics. The main one is the attack of the bear on the hero. The authors watched dozens of videos of bear battles and consulted with zoologists. As a result, it was decided to shoot the scene in a single frame for greater realism.

For several months, the stuntmen and DiCaprio himself studied and practiced the movements. Cables were stretched on the site, on which the actor and stuntmen moved.

They grabbed DiCaprio like a real bear would. After that, ILM studio specialists replaced the stuntmen with an animated beast and cleaned up the cables. Also, a herd of rushing bison, a flying comet and a scene of a hero and a horse falling off a cliff were created on a computer.

The most difficult director called the scene of an avalanche behind DiCaprio. It was completely real and was created using explosives dropped from a helicopter onto a mountain. It was possible to do all this only once, everyone understood that they had one take at their disposal. The director, meanwhile, managed to achieve the synchronicity of the actions of a group of people who were at a great distance from each other.

scene in the mountainsFrame from the film.


The real prototype of the hero DiCaprio – a hunter named Hugh Glass in 1823 became a member of an expedition to North Dakota for valuable fur. There, on the banks of the Missouri, he was attacked and badly wounded by a bear. Abandoned by his team in the forest, the hunter traveled for six weeks to the camp. It was this story that formed the basis of the plot of the film “The Revenant”, but was supplemented and “enhanced” by the screenwriter and director of the picture.

The film shows a description of events in America in the first third of the 19th century. A group of military hunters launched a fur raid in 1823 under the command of Andrew Henry (Donal Gleason). The Ariakar Indians ambushed them in an attempt to protect their lands.

Only a quarter of the hunters managed to escape, loading the remains of the mined fur onto rafts and descending down the Missouri. There, one of the members of the Hugh Glass group (Leonardo DiCaprio) was attacked by a bear. The man survived, but received many serious wounds.

The group split up. Some of the people moved on, and some remained with the dying Glass. These were two hunters – John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), as well as Hugh’s son named Hawke (Forrest Goodluck).

Will PoulterWill Poulter as Jim Bridger. Frame from the film.

They were supposed to wait for Glass to die and bury him, but Fitzgerald kills Hawk in front of an injured Hugh and forces Bridger to move on. They put the hunter in a dug grave and sprinkle it with earth.

Hugh Glass, against all odds, survives. Thus begins his long journey alone with primeval nature and many dangers. Along the way, he escapes death many times by fleeing a hostile Indian tribe.

The Indians are looking for the daughter of the leader, stolen by the “pale faces” and believe that this is the work of a group of hunters and Glass himself. Only later it turned out that the girl was captured by the French. Hugh accidentally found her and saved her. For this, at the end of the film, the leader of the Indians gave him life.

To survive in a harsh climate, Hugh Glass makes sacrifices, forgetting about pain, disgust, fear. As a result, he gets to the camp where Fitzgerald and Bridger were.

Upon learning that the hunter has survived, Fitzgerald steals the goods acquired by the group and flees from the camp. On the bank of the river, Hugh overtakes him. In a fit of rage, he almost kills the bandit, but then decides to do something different with him. He pushes him off the cliff into the river, where the Ariakar Indians are already waiting for him.

The leader does justice by scalping and killing Fitzgerald. He leaves Hugh himself alive in gratitude for saving his daughter. Glass, seeing that his mission is accomplished, moves away from the river. At the end, he sees his dead wife, who smiles at him and disappears into the thicket.

chief's daughterLeonardo DiCaprio, Grace Dove. Frame from the film.

The meaning of the ending

The main idea of ​​the picture is a person’s persistent desire for a goal. Glass had two of them – to stay alive and avenge the death of his son. And in the finale, when his decisive battle comes, he releases Fitzgerald from his hands without finishing him off. The explanation of the ending will be clear to those who carefully watched the film until the most decisive scene.

At that moment, Hugh Glass remembered the words of the Indian he met on the way that only the Creator should do justice.

The meaning of the ending of the film “The Revenant” is that even in the most difficult circumstances incompatible with life, one must be able to remain human, discarding the unnecessary for the sake of the main thing.

Movie Ideas

The film The Revenant is riddled with symbolism. In the scene of Hawke’s murder, the weather changes dramatically, clouds gather, a strong wind begins. Before the death of the Indian with whom Hugh befriended, a real storm breaks out. An avalanche accompanies the captain’s death. There is also a hidden meaning in the scene when Glass climbs out of the carcass of a horse – this is how he is metaphorically reborn.

These are the global ideas that the filmmakers touched upon.

Indigenous genocide

The film takes place during the expansion of the West by “British” Americans. This is a time when there was no state on the territory of the United States, there were only English and French colonies.

In pursuit of resources, they drove the native Indians out of their territory, engaging in constant skirmishes with them. As a result, the tribes disappeared in dozens, the survivors scattered through the forests and took revenge on the “pale-faced” from shelters.

It was a harsh time when “white” people killed each other for control over resources, for the sake of enrichment, taking land from the indigenous peoples and turning them into their slaves.

And all this for the sake of the illusion of power. The director managed to show Native Americans not as stereotypical ruthless savages killing “whites”. He gave a clear explanation of their actions, conveyed their special attitude, the strength of spirit with which they fought for the right to live freely on their land.

protagonist and leader of the Indians.Frame from the film.

Attitude towards nature

The relationship between man and nature is the main idea in The Revenant. Native Indians are closest to her. They live in harmony with their land for centuries, wisely using the riches of nature, approaching the art of hunting, fishing, and breeding horses with wisdom. The alien “pale-faced” brought chaos to this measured life. Threatened with annihilation, they come to grips with them.

A huge mountain of buffalo skulls has a special interpretation. This is a symbol not only of the eradication of the ancient cultures of America, but also of the destruction of nature itself by man. The authors of the picture wanted to show how important it is to appreciate all living things, and not just to receive resources.

Despite the abundance of cruel animal shots, none of them were harmed during filming. All the dead animals were artificial – both the eaten bison and the dead horse, in which the main character was hiding from the frost.

The Revenant is a visual masterpiece. Incredibly beautiful landscapes complement the plot, delight and make us recognize the full power of the nature around us. The animal world is shown scrupulously and documented.

Separate “bravo” to the director for the frame shot through the eyes of a horse and the scene of the buffalo fighting with a pack of wolves. The unity of man with nature in the film is absolute, Hugh Glass is left alone with her, surviving by her rules.

nature in filmFrame from the film.

Genus and family

Glass was happy living with a Native American tribe. His wife and son were the only people he cared about. The hunter learned their language, absorbed the wisdom of their parables, learned to live in harmony with nature and with himself.

His son Hawk became his main value, an incentive to live. Glass always understood that he was closer in spirit to the Indians than the Americans – tough, greedy for profit, such as John Fitzgerald or the Frenchman Toussaint.

Having lost his beloved, Glass immediately shot her killer, although he was an officer. But with the death of his son, real despair and pain covered him. He realized that he could not leave the world without taking revenge on Fitzgerald. This became his main goal to survive. On the wall of the cave, Hugh Glass scrawled the main thing that hurt inside him: “Fitzgerald killed my son.” The family was his only value, and with her departure, he lost everything.

family valuesFrame from the film.

In parallel, the second character was shown, for whom the fate of his family and clan was the most important thing in the world.

The leader of an Indian tribe, who has lost his daughter and is looking for her everywhere, wanders tirelessly through the forests. He sees the enemy in any European, and his pain of losing his daughter fully justifies the cruelty. Revenge is not his meaning of life. He just wants to find his daughter alive and unharmed, to save his family, to get a chance to continue it.


At all times, people fought for natural resources and power. In the film The Revenant, the idea of ​​money and getting rich is especially pronounced.

Americans for the sake of resources go to robbery and robbery, the Indians sometimes have to imitate them. For example, representatives of the Erikari tribe steal meat and furs from Captain Henry’s detachment, in order to later exchange them for horses with the French.

There are also characters in the film who show an example of disinterestedness. Captain Henry promises $100 to anyone who will stay with the dying Glass and then bury him with dignity.

Then Hawk and Jim Bridger refuse the reward, saying that it is a matter of honor for them to be with Glass to the end. But John Fitzgerald behaves very differently. He first takes the triple reward, and at the end of the film he destroys the team’s safe.

mountain of skullsFrame from the film.

The French are also petty and greedy. They constantly enter into deals with the Indians, not even afraid of the leader’s threats. For them, the main thing is to get rich and fill their pockets. Captain Henry, on the contrary, has very different values. He, without hesitation, leaves furs in the forest to save the lives of the expedition members.

And this is another meaning of the film – to remain a worthy person even in the face of danger. Do not forget that we are all in this world for a short time and must take care of what will remain after us for descendants.

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