By now, many of us have seen Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest powerhouse film, The Revenant, and we can safely say we’ve never felt dirtier. It’s a dire and unrelenting, yet profoundly beautiful movie about fur trapper Hugh Glass’ desperate fight for survival and revenge in the American frontier. Despite the disgusting and brutal nature of the film, people seem to have genuinely gravitated towards it. In its expansion to wide release, The Revenant has already made an estimated $38 million at the box office, making it Leonardo DiCaprio’s fourth biggest opening ever, and Inarritu’s all-time best frame.

As unlikely as it may seem, The Revenant is in fact based upon a real story. Many of the treacherous events that befall Glass throughout the film actually took place, but as we all know, Hollywood does love to play fast and loose with the phrase "based on a true story." Given the vague, and possibly embellished accounts of what happened to Glass out in the wilderness, how much of The Revenant is fact, and how much of it is fiction? Join us as we sift through the details to find the truth, and determine whether, or not the truth even matters.

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Revenant. If you have not yet seen the movie, we recommend clicking away to another one of our fantastic articles.


What Happened In The Movie
Set against the harsh backdrop of the American frontier during the early 19th century, The Revenant follows expert tracker Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he and his Native American son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) guide a fur trapping expedition led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domnhnall Gleeson). After witnessing the majority of their expedition violently murdered at the hands of a Native American tribe, Glass finds himself brutally mauled by a bear while scouting in the woods. Unwilling to care for Glass’ situation or his survival, party member John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) murders Hawk in front of Glass and leaves the tracker for dead in the wilderness – lying about Glass’ fate when he returns to their home at Fort Kiowa and forcing fellow party member Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) to corroborate his story.

Unbeknownst to Fitzgerald and Bridger, Glass survives their attempt to bury him alive and begins a rage-fueled journey for revenge that sees him brave hunger, Native attacks, and various other treacherous elements to get the man who murdered his son. Throughout Glass’ journey, he experiences haunting flashbacks of his dead Pawnee wife that remind him to keep fighting as long as he can breathe. After being subjected to just about every type of hell imaginable, Glass finally makes it back to the trapping outpost, at which point the truth begins to come out, causing Fitzgerald to flee with Henry’s money. Glass forgives Bridger, and eventually tracks Fitzgerald down in the wilderness where the two men engage in a vicious brawl - shooting, slashing, and beating each other to within an inch of their lives. Gaining the upper hand, Glass opts not to kill Fitzgerald, but sends him downriver into the hands of a hateful Native tribe from which they spent the film running. The final moments of The Revenant see Glass still barely breathing among the trees, as he watches the specter of his dead love wander away into the wilderness. The credits roll, and all the audience is left with is the sound of Glass’ breath. Riveting stuff for sure, but let’s see how it compares with reality…

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