“The Revenant” walks us through the brief yet pivotal history of the American fur trade, full of tales of daring but also grave destruction. Though the fur trade forged the romantic image of the mountain man – idealized loners purportedly as rugged as the wilderness they felt beholden to tame -- the fur trade was also very much a business. In a sense it ushered in the first emergence of the archetypal Western entrepreneur, the visionary iconoclast who forges ahead answerable to no one but himself.
Academy Award®-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu brings the legend of Hugh Glass to the screen with “The Revenant,” an epic adventure set in the unchartered 19th century American Frontier. Immersing audiences in the unparalleled beauty, mystery and dangers of life in 1823 America, the film explores one man’s transformation in a quest for survival. Part thriller, part wilderness journey, The Revenant explores primal drives not only for life itself but for dignity, justice, faith, family and home.
“This era was the start of industrialism at play in the West. Even before the discovery of gold and oil, the fur trade was a massive, lucrative business,” explains DiCaprio. “You had trappers going into pristine landscapes among indigenous populations to extract resources – and the question that comes up is: at what cost? Glass is caught in the middle of that question and it’s a powerful theme in the film.”
The dark mirror to Hugh Glass’s journey of survival is John Fitzgerald’s journey into paranoia, recrimination and haunted bitterness. To portray Fitzgerald, who both betrays Glass and becomes his spark for enduring, Iñárritu cast the English actor Tom Hardy who has come to the fore in vastly contrasting roles, from the dream-world character of Eames in Christopher Nolan’s Inception to the one-man tour-de-force of Locke. Iñárritu says, “As Fitzgerald, Tom plays a man full of prejudice. Yet he’s a wounded soul who has fears of the other because he is not capable of opening up to and understanding otherness. Tom has a finesse to him that is difficult to find,” Iñárritu continues. He is so handsome, so well built, so powerful and strong, but at the same time, can be extremely fragile, and that is what makes him so unique.”
Hardy made for an incredible nemesis. “Fitzgerald is a very interesting character because you understand his motivations so well. Here he is a man with nothing who hoped to be in a lucrative business, and all his future plans disappear in one second. So he goes into this ultimate survival mode where it’s kill or be killed – and Glass is the person in the way of that,” says DiCaprio. “Fitzgerald is also a survivor, but he finds a very different way from Glass. He chooses to be cutthroat.”
He continues: “Tom is someone I’ve worked with before and I’m an incredible fan of his work. I think he’s one of the most dynamic actors out there, and his commitment to creating this character was incredibly exciting to watch. He has a raw savagery that is so genuine; and that was absolutely, fundamentally needed to contrast with my character. He’s not your typical villain. These two men show strength in two entirely different ways.”
Opening in cinemas and IMAX screens nationwide this February 3, “The Revenant” is from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.
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