Inspired by true events, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s film “The Revenant” follows legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo Dicaprio) as he embarks on a journey that is steeped as much in redemption as it is revenge.
One of the most important themes in Hugh Glass’s journey becomes clearly evident when one considers the meaning of the word “revenant” and how intimately this word entwines itself with Glass’s character. The word revenant means “to return…particularly in ghost form”. Glass’s return is illustrated as both a physical and a spiritual journey; a journey that he is immersed in after he is viciously mauled by a bear and left to die alone in the wilderness.
Throughout the film, there is a strong spiritual connection that is established between Glass and his wife and son. While his body is broken, his heart is anchored by the memory of his wife and child and the silent promise that he made with them to hold onto life and not surrender to death and despair. His spiritual return is realized when Glass finally makes peace with the demons that have haunted him since he lost his family.
When Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) murders Glass’s son and leaves Glass for dead in the unforgiving wilderness, the part of Glass that was holding onto life for the sake of his child metaphorically dies as well. Although he literally returns from the grave and endures an impossible journey to exact his revenge on Fitzgerald, in the end, Glass is only able to find peace when he relinquishes his pain and guilt and gives his desire for revenge to the Creator.
“The Revenant” is one of the most excruciatingly beautiful films that I have ever seen. As I watched Glass’s story unfold, I felt like I was witnessing a journey that I almost felt uncomfortable watching because it seemed so deeply personal for the character. The casting for this film is absolutely flawless, particularly for Leonardo DiCaprio who shines in his role of Hugh Glass. The physical, emotional and spiritual pain that his character endures was so powerfully conveyed that I could feel his pain as I watched it unfold onscreen. The cinematography in this film is also breathtaking. These are but a few reasons why I would highly recommend this film.