Powerful Themes in The Revenant

The Revenant is a action-drama film by Alejandro G. Innaritu, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It is a story that focuses largely on man's relation with the natural world and focuses on several important themes.


In the film, Hugh Glass - a fur trapper - is mauled a grizzly bear and left for dead by his team, which abandons him and leaves him without any weapons to survive. He wrestles with death as he fights his way through the harsh winter of the American mid-west and eventually gets discovered by the large team and saved. Despite his security, he goes on his own personal mission - while half-dead - to find the man that betrayed and abandoned him. 


The main themes of The Revenant:

1. Revenge as an act that is God's responsibility.

Throughout the film, Hugh Glass' goal is to get revenge for his betrayal and abandonment. He wrestles his way through nature in the dead of winter to find Fitzgerald, the man who betrayed him. At the end of the film, Hugh Glass hunts down Fitzgerald and has him killed. But before he can deal with the final blow, he realizes that revenge is in God's hands not his. He let's go of Fitzgerald and pushes him into a flowing river, sending him into the path of the Arikara Native Americans who end up killing him.

This scene is incredibly symbolic of how the Native American's are the "gods" of their land and that we should respect their presence and not drive them out as we are doing today. The fact that Hugh Glass wants revenge to be taken care of by God, but ends up sending Fitzgerald to the Arikara is a deep message from Alejandro G. Innaritu that the Native Americans are the owners of their land, and that we should give them total respect.


2. You can survive any amount of suffering if you have something to live for.

"I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’ve done it already." - Hugh Glass

Hugh Glass survives near-death and pushes himself behind his physical and mental capability to drive himself through the harsh winter of the mid-west to achieve his goal of revenge. If Glass did not have this goal in his mind, he would've died off - satisfied. But the fact that his betrayal and the murder of his son by his betrayer, gives him something to live for - another reason to stay alive and keep fighting - results in him pulling off a miraculous fight to get what he truly wants; revenge.

3. Man's relation with the natural world

Throughout the film, Hugh Glass and his team are dwarfed by the incredible vistas and landscapes of the American wilderness. They are at the mercy of nature, emphasizing how humans use to once live and how we have completely thrown that privilege away. 

Leonardo DiCaprio emphasized this when he won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant:

"Making The Revenant was about man's relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted."

The Revenant is a terrifying tale of how one man's thirst for revenge and justice can drive him to the limits of human survival and total perserverance.