The Revenant's Bear Carcass Scene Was More Real Than You Think

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio began his film career at age 17 in Kristine Peterson's 1991 film "Critters 3," a harrowing tale of corrupt real estate exploitation. In "Critters 3," DiCaprio played Josh, the precocious teenage stepson of a morally bankrupt slumlord, a stepfather he accidentally sentences to death when Josh locks him in a basement room with a ravenous Tasmanian devil from space. From "Critters 3," DiCaprio went on to be nominated for seven Academy Awards across the categories of Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor, and Best Picture (he served as a producer on 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street").

DiCaprio's one Academy Award win was for Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2015 frontier thriller " The Revenant ," in which he played Hugh Glass, a guide in The Dakotas in 1823, who is mauled horribly by a grizzly bear and left for dead by a fellow trapper played by Tom Hardy. The bear in the mauling scene was not present on screen, but was the result of expert CGI provided by Industrial Light and Magic. A scene later in the film, however, wherein Hugh Glass had to cut open and climb inside a bear carcass for warmth ... that was stirringly real. 

In a 2015 interview with Yahoo , DiCaprio — who recently had a tree named after him — details which parts of "The Revenant" were staged, and which parts were un-simulated ... and harrowing to film.

The Difficult Shoot

DiCaprio was eager to take on some physically taxing challenges to play Hugh Glass, and the bear attack wasn't even one of the more difficult ones. Since the bear was realized with CGI, DiCaprio had to be connected to a complicated cable system to throw him around as a bear might. Much of the difficulty stemmed from the natural environments where Iñárritu, DiCaprio, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki shot "The Revenant." Much of the film was photographed in Canada and Argentina in very inclement conditions, causing some of the film's crew to walk off the set . The abandonments and the global search for natural snow cause the film to go way over budget. Additionally, since Lubezki was shooting only using natural light, filming could only occur for a few hours each day, and there were a lot of communication problems around the set from producer Jim Skotchdople. What's more — and Iñárritu has copped to this — the crew complained that there was a lack of clarity from Iñárritu himself. A lot of last-minute changes and hasty alterations to scenes made shooting all the more grievous.

A lot of this difficulty stemmed from Iñárritu's insistence that as little CGI as possible be used. He and DiCaprio wanted "The Revenant" to look incredibly natural and authentic. DiCaprio was so devoted to this aesthetic — to tap into the primal nature of the natural world — that he put himself through a few horrible experiences. 

The frozen rivers were indeed frozen rivers, and DiCaprio had to splash through several of them during the shoot. Shooting in a remote location means a lack of comfort for everyone, so if it looked like DiCaprio was freezing, he was.

The Bear Carcass

In one scene, Hugh Glass is facing a frozen night, and, in order to stay warm, has to climb inside the carcass of a dead animal for warmth. Children raised on " The Empire Strikes Back " will recognize this practice. DiCaprio has been coy about what kind of animal he climbed inside of — some sources have reported it was a horse, others a bear — but that he did indeed climb inside a real carcass for warmth. When one is struggling to merely stay alive, your gag reflex is likely one of the first things to go. 

Although maybe not. In another scene, Hugh, starving to death, comes upon a bison. With little choice in his current diet, Hugh eats the animal's liver. DiCaprio elected to eat raw bison liver on camera, and his reaction is quite real. While experiencing the ecstatic truth of a man literally choking back raw organ meat carries with it a certain sense of fun, all the retching tips DiCaprio's performance away from authenticity in that moment; an experienced wilderness guide like Hugh Glass would not have choked and gagged on animal liver, but would have been used to the flavor. 

Still, one must admire DiCaprio for his tenacity. 

One can argue whether or not such harrowing physical trials are required for a great performance — and indeed, some actors prefer to challenge themselves in extreme ways — but DiCaprio's choice to struggle, along with Iñárritu's and Lubezki's insistence on naturalness, eventually led all three of them to win Academy Awards for "The Revenant." Sometimes, it seems, you really do have to suffer for your art.

Leonardo DiCaprio Was Attacked While Filming This 2016 Moive, But The Behind The Scenes Story May Not Be What Fans Expected

Leonardo DiCaprio's scene from The Revenant has become a topic of conversation even for those who haven't seen the film.

The Revenant is a gripping film starring Leonardo DiCaprio that revolves around the true story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who was left for dead by his companions after being mauled by a grizzly bear. The film showcases how Glass was fueled by the will to survive and sought revenge on those who had betrayed him. Over the course of 6 weeks, he crawled to the nearest settlement in South Dakota where he finally found solace and strength. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers an incredible portrayal of Glass in this epic tale of survival and resilience.

Related: These Celebrities Have Publicly Thirsted Over Leonardo DiCaprio When He Was Young But Never Dated Him

Most notably, however, is not the actual story told in the movie but the scene from The Revenant that has become a topic of conversation even for those who haven't seen the film. With Leonardo DiCaprio's big Oscar win for lead actor and the movie's heavily promoted clips, the scene has been widely circulated and discussed. Bringing about the question, who or what was it that actually attacked DiCaprio in the scene?

Leonardo DiCaprio Was Confused By The Script For The Revenant

In an interview at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Leonardo said, “You read the screenplay and it’s like, Hugh Glass fights the bear. I was like, ‘So what do I do? Do I give him a right hook? How do I fight a bear? ” DiCaprio, of course, quickly found out.

“It’s not a fight at all, you’re just being mauled and it’s like a giant cat throwing around a ball of yarn around the forest,” he explained. Hugh Glass was actually attacked by a real bear. The female bear was a mother who thought her cubs were in danger, and as the saying goes, “Don’t mess with mama bear.”

How Was The Bear Attack Scene With Leonardo DiCaprio In The Revenant Filmed?

The Revenant's bear attack scene is a technical and narrative masterpiece that adds to the movie's unforgettable survival story. However, it raises the question of how it was shot. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu has been vague about the specifics, likely to preserve the mystery and magic of his film. Nonetheless, with some research, many of the filmmaker's secrets have been uncovered for those who are curious.

Some of the techniques used to create the scene include the use of natural light, handheld cameras, and extensive rehearsals with the actors. Iñárritu also employed the help of a team of visual effects artists to seamlessly stitch together different shots and remove any unwanted elements. The result is a breathtaking sequence that immerses the audience in the harsh and unforgiving world of the film. It's a testament to Iñárritu's skill as a filmmaker and his commitment to pushing the boundaries of cinema.

Was There A Real Bear Used In Leonardo DiCaprio's Movie The Revenant’s Attack Scene?

The Revenant's production team took precautions to ensure the safety of their crew during the bear scene, even though the bear on screen was not real. Despite this, the scene remains one of the most memorable and intense moments in the film, which is reflected in its impressive 12 Oscar nominations.

The scene was achieved through a combination of practical effects, computer-generated imagery (CGI), and the use of a stuntman in a bear suit. The production team wanted to create a realistic and intense scene, but they also wanted to ensure the safety of their cast and crew. The use of a stuntman in a bear suit allowed for greater control over the scene and minimized the risk of injury. The CGI was then used to enhance the realism of the scene and create the illusion of a real bear attacking DiCaprio's character.

Related: Leonardo DiCaprio Warned Austin Butler That Working With Baz Luhrmann On Elvis Was Going To Be A Challenge

Glenn Ennis, is the seasoned stuntman who took on the role. With experience working on movies like The Watchmen and Freddy vs Jason , Ennis donned a unique costume to assist in filming the intense scene in which DiCaprio's character is brutally attacked by a bear. At 51 years old, Ennis is no stranger to tackling dangerous stunts and it showed. He was able to execute the harrowing sequence with such precision it was beyond believable.

What Else Did Leonardo DiCaprio Have To Go Through While Filming The Revenant?

The Revenant was an extremely difficult movie to film, bear attack or not. While filming the movie, Leonardo faced numerous challenges that tested his limits. He had to consume raw bison liver , which made him sick, and sleep inside an animal carcass, to prepare for filming in sub-zero temperatures reaching as low as below 25°C (-13°F).

Canada produces very harsh winter weather, so the first part of the movie was filmed there. However, filming fell behind schedule and as temperatures rose with the onset of summer the snow started melting. Because of this, it became necessary to relocate the entire movie set to southern Argentina where weather conditions mirrored those of the Canadian winters they started with.

Related: Growing Pains Actor Jeremy Miller Was Upset With The Network's Decision To Bring In Leonardo DiCaprio

Another amazing part of filming The Revenant is that one of the scenes features a genuine avalanche, there was no CGI used at all. The avalanche was set off by planes dropping explosives on Fortress Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Cranes were strategically placed to capture the avalanche as it occurred. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was understandably anxious about filming this scene since there was no opportunity for a reshoot. He described it as both nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

Lastly, and possibly most interestingly, The Revenant is the very first time in Leonardo DiCaprio’s career he played a non-verbal role. Aside from 10 minutes out of the 2 hours and 36 minutes of the movie, he doesn’t speak at all. In an interview Leo said, “It was a different type of challenge for me because I’ve played a lot of very vocal characters. It’s something that I really wanted to investigate, playing a character who says almost nothing. How do you relay an emotional journey and get in tune with this man’s angst … without words?” Whatever it was, he figured it out, because despite his controversial dating life, Leo shows up for his films. The Revenant is most certainly one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s best films to date.

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How The Revenant Got its Bear Attack Scene Right

Meticulous research, computer-generated effects, and a skilled stunt team were behind one of the most memorable animal encounters in cinema’s history..

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There is no shortage of violent scenes in The Revenant . The wilderness epic, which is up for a dozen Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards, sets one man’s quest for revenge against a backdrop of bloodshed between trappers and Native Americans. But it was the bear attack that stood out.

In a pivotal sequence, the film’s hero — fur trapper Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio — is mauled by a grizzly bear. He survives, but his companions soon leave him for dead in the middle of the frigid American west to fend for himself.

Among Hollywood depictions of attacking bruins, The Revenant ’s is quite realistic. Backpacker talked with one of the movie’s stunt performers, a consultant to the film and two of North America’s premier bear experts about what the movie gets right.

Doing their research

Glenn Ennis of Vancouver, one of the performers who played the bear, told Backpacker the team prepared by studying videos of wild and captive bears, including several attacks.

Ennis recalls one clip of a man being attacked after entering a zoo enclosure. The footage went on for quite some time, with the bear wandering away mid-attack but then coming back and getting vicious again, he says. The bear in The Revenant behaves similarly.

The bear itself was created with computer effects, but it was superimposed over Ennis and his actual movement. He had to call on his acting background to practice ursine walking and “getting into the headspace of a bear,” he says. When they’re not attacking something, “they have a nonchalance to them.”

Earlier on in the film’s production, a group including director Alejandro González Iñárritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and visual effects supervisor Richard McBride met for an informal consultation for the film with Scott McMillion, a Montana-based writer and author of Mark of the Grizzly , a 1998 nonfiction book about bear attacks.

That conversation and other research paid off for the filmmakers. McMillon says he was impressed with the computer-generated imagery that made the scene. (One of the movie’s Oscar nominations is for visual effects.)

In addition to McMillion, Iñárritu met with Werner Herzog to talk about his 2005 documentary Grizzly Man , the L.A. Times reported.

“The research of how it happened is very important,” Iñárritu said in December at an event at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles, according to the paper. “All the Hollywood films show bears as a bad guy or they have human emotions. … I hate that. And this [bear] is just feeding her cubs. That’s it. I wanted to understand how, what happened.”

Mother and cubs

In the movie, the attack starts when Glass is walking in the forest and chances upon two bear cubs in front of him. He looks over his shoulder and sees the mother at close range. What happens next, McMillon says, is firmly grounded in reality.

“If you get between a mother and its cubs you’re probably going to take an ass kicking,” he says.

Of fatal grizzly bear attacks, around 80% involve mothers defending cubs, according to Lynn Rogers, a wildlife biologist and founder of the North American Bear Center who has studied bears since 1967 and has walked with grizzlies in Alaska.

The “mother bear is not trying to eat you, she’s just trying to vanquish the danger,” Rogers says.

Although most females with cubs will flee, the shorter the range, the more likely an attack is to happen, says Stephen Herrero, an emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Calgary who has been studying bears since 1967.

Playing dead

In the movie, the mama bruin doesn’t rear up on her hind legs with her claws in the air. Instead, it headbutts Glass to the ground. “They come in low and fast like a rocket,” McMillion says.

After putting up a short fight, Glass ends up playing dead and the bear moves a short distance away. That’s when he makes another mistake.

“He gets up and goes for a gun; then round two starts,” McMillion says. “If a grizzly bear knocks you down, stay down.”

It’s rare that bears kill people and even rarer that they eat people. Like Glass, most people survive bear attacks. As soon as people play dead, says McMillon, bears tend to stop chewing. Had Glass stayed down, his attacker likely would have moved on.

Even a gunshot from Glass isn’t enough to stop the bear from dishing out a second beating.

“They can withstand terrible wounding and still be in attack mode,” Herrero says.

Myth and reality

In reality, bear attacks are far from common. Each year in Canada and the United States, there are about 20 black bear and 10 grizzly bear attacks, with about three of them being fatal, Herrero says.

One myth McMillon tries to dispel is that grizzly bears are out there hunting people.

In the 1997 wilderness drama The Edge , a bear kills one person in a party lost in Alaska. But then the bear stalks the others. Hogwash, says McMillion, noting The Revenant did not show the bear hunting Glass.

Herrero agrees that the filmmakers did their research. But whether that knowledge, and how they employed it, was enough to win them an Oscar on Sunday remains to be seen.

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The Real Story of 'The Revenant' Is Far Weirder (and Bloodier) Than the Movie

The Real Story of ‘The Revenant’ Is Far Weirder (and Bloodier) Than the Movie

Hugh Glass, the protagonist of the story, never was chased off a cliff, cut a dead horse open for warmth or had a half-Pawnee son. But the frontiersman played by DiCaprio lived a life even more fantastical than any film.

By Steve Friedman

Steve Friedman

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This story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe .

Before a grizzly tore a hunk of meat from his rump and lobbed it to her squalling cubs, Hugh Glass was just a middle-aged pirate who had abandoned ship, then dodged two tribes of cannibals only to witness his friend being roasted alive. And then things turned really nasty.

That’s the story, anyway. But it’s not the one told in The Revenant , the Alejandro G. Inarritu-directed Oscar favorite, in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s Glass is chased off a cliff, recalls his Pawnee wife, eats raw buffalo liver — and mainly, drags his grizzly-ravaged body hundreds of miles through a wintry frontier, driven by bloodlust for the men who had left him to die.

The real Glass, however, made much of his journey in late summer. And he had no Pawnee wife. Even the liver is not a sure thing.

To separate mythology from biography, it helps to remember that the film is based in part on a 2002 work of fiction, which itself is based in part on the three earliest written and largely forgotten accounts of Glass’ adventures. None of those authors knew Glass, and one of them, a novelist, wrote the forgettable sequel Monte Cristo’s Daughter . Thucydides , these guys were not. But their accounts, as well as letters, testimony, trapper memoirs and a rich oral history, are what is left regarding Glass’ life.

Based on those sources, this much is certain: Glass was alive, he survived a grizzly attack and he died. There is no evidence he had a Native American wife or girlfriend, or that he had a son by a Native American woman, or that he plunged off a cliff on a horse, or that he gutted and climbed into a dead horse to stay warm or for any other reason.

Glass lived in Pennsylvania, where he might have had a wife and two sons whom he abandoned. He was a sea captain already in his 30s when pirates attacked his ship off the coast of what is now Texas in 1819. The pirate captain offered Glass a choice: Join their crew, or join the scores of bleeding, gutted, naked, screaming and drowning men, women and children bobbing in the choppy waters below. Glass joined.

After a year of pillaging, kidnapping, killing and the like, Glass and another pirate jumped overboard and swam toward Campeche (now Galveston), the primitive headquarters of Jean Lafitte , who, it turned out, was Glass’ pirate boss’ boss. The two deserters slunk north toward St. Louis, the westernmost locus of American civilization. They took special care to avoid, to the east, the Karankawa , notorious for eating settlers (tribesmen called the dish “long pig”). The duo couldn’t stray too far west, though, because there dwelled the slightly pickier Tonkawas , who included only severed human hands and feet in their diet (to ingest extra strength and speed).

On they pressed, away from these man-eating tribes and Lafitte’s band of murderers and toward Comanche, Kiowa and Osage, the former two scary, the latter really scary (the Osage eschewed scalping in favor of decapitation). When Glass and his pal ultimately were captured, 1,000 miles after emerging from the water, it was by Pawnee, which should have provided a measure of relief. Alas, the Loup branch of the Pawnee regularly offered human sacrifices to the god of the morning star — usually young girls from the village. But an exception was made for a couple guys who represented the vanguard of an invading, land-grabbing, genocidal force.

A gang of Pawnee stripped and tied Glass’ friend to a stake. As Glass watched, they stuck slivers of resinous pine into his friend’s flesh, then lit them. When it was Glass’ turn, he bowed before the chief, then reached into his pocket and produced a vial of cinnabar, the flaky red mineral then found in Texas and used around the world for makeup and pottery. War paint, too. The chief was impressed by the gift, as well as the sangfroid with which the white man presented it. Somehow, the pirate turned mutineer turned fugitive escaped the flaming porcupine treatment and became an honorary Pawnee.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

Other than omitting a futile attempt by Glass to climb a tree and an early on-target gunshot, the grizzly attack depicted in ‘The Revenant’ largely is accurate.

He learned lance throwing, tomahawk chopping, and how to break and suck the marrow from buffalo bones. He ate his share of dog (don’t judge). It was during this period that he likely procured his legendary and beloved rifle, the mighty and thunderous .54 caliber Hawken to which Glass grew profoundly attached and that later would cause him so much trouble.

After two years, in January 1823, Glass headed east with the chief to meet with the U.S. Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis. Afterward, the chief returned to lead his tribe while Glass stayed in town. He answered an ad placed in the Missouri Republican by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, which was seeking 100 men to pack up and leave fancy duds, womenfolk and saloons behind to head into the Rocky Mountains. There, for $200 annually, they would trap beaver.

Men who didn’t respond to the ad were enlisted from “grog shops and other sinks of degradation,” according to a recruiter. Many would go on to form the sweaty, calloused core of the country’s mid-19th century trapping force. It was risky, hard labor that favored the ornery. So maybe it’s unsurprising that the trappers tended to be some of the more profane, violent, nature-despoiling, aboriginal land-trespassing, wildlife-poaching, gun-toting cusses ever to range the Rockies.

The party, led by Gen. William Ashley, set out on the Missouri River in early March, and except for one man falling overboard and drowning the first day, and three others being blown to bits when someone lit a pipe too close to a pile of explosives, the trip began smoothly. At least until Ashley went ashore to talk business with the Arikara (aka the Rees). Could Chief Grey Eyes and his warriors, by reputation suspicious and at times murderous regarding trespassers, spare 50 horses? Why yes, Chief Grey Eyes replied, as long as Ashley could spare a few kegs of gunpowder. A deal was struck, goods exchanged and most of the crew set up camp on a sandbar near the Arikara village. They would continue downriver in the morning.

All went without incident that evening, notwithstanding the throat-slitting of young Aaron Stephens, one of the many trappers who had visited the Ree village to celebrate the procurement of horses by fornicating with a village maiden.

The Rees attacked in the morning, wounding Glass and killing 15 of his companions. Which brings us to the film’s first scene, with Leo dodging arrows and barely making it to the boat that took the trappers downriver to safety.

The film skips over the counterattack and subsequent siege of a Ree village that involved Ashley’s men, another trapping party led by a Lt. Andrew Henry, 250 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Sioux, who harbored a deep and abiding antipathy for the Ree. It was the first military encounter between the U.S. and Native Americans in the West, and relations pretty much went downhill from there.

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How 'the revenant's' vfx team brought that bear to life.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

John Fitzgerald and the teenager named Bridger did volunteer to stay with Glass until he died, and they did betray him, but the famed trapper’s quest ended without bloody vengeance in the mountains. In real life, Glass mostly just wanted his rifle back.

But back to the film — namely, that grizzly attack: Glass left Ashley’s group to join Henry’s (don’t ask), and early in the journey, Henry sent two of his now roughly 30-strong group to hunt some meat, telling the rest, including Glass, to stay put. But our protagonist had never liked orders. Also, he hankered for some berries.

He was standing in a berry patch when Ol’ Ephraim — that’s what mountain men back then called grizzlies, even females — charged. Glass shot her with his rifle. It was a good shot, but Ol’ Ephraim kept charging. Glass ran to a tree, but as he began to climb, O.E. grabbed him, threw him to the ground and tore some meat out of his rear. She tossed the meal to her cubs, who probably had never tasted man before (odds are they liked it). Then Ol’ Ephraim returned her attention to Glass. She raked her claws across his back, bit him about the head and shook him like a rag doll. Glass moved in close and slashed the bear repeatedly with his knife. He tried to yell, but what came out was a kind of high-pitched gargling, as his throat had been torn open and was gushing blood.

The grizzly fell, dead either by Glass’ shot or by those fired by two hunters who had heard the commotion. Fellow trappers bound Glass’ wounds as best they could, using sweaty, soiled pieces of fabric ripped from their shirts. The next morning, having abandoned their boat, the group marched on, carrying Glass on a litter made from branches.

It slowed them down. They knew hostiles were nearby. On the fifth day or so, Henry offered cash (accounts vary between $80 and $400) to any two men who would stay with Glass until he died, then meet the others at his namesake Fort Henry.

One volunteer, an otherwise forgettable figure, was named John Fitzgerald. The other was a teenager named Bridger. They kept Glass comfortable and waited for him to die.

After five days, though, the men had a talk (which Glass reportedly later told another trapper he’d overheard). No one had expected Glass to live this long, and no one would want the pair to stay. Glass was going to die anyway, Fitzgerald told the kid. It was only a matter of time before Ree or Cheyenne found them. And besides, they had already earned their money. The two men left Glass next to a nearby stream, underneath a berry bush. Just in case.

Fitzgerald and Bridger took Glass’ rifle, knife, tomahawk and flint; if they showed up empty-handed, Henry would have asked where the weapons were, and they wouldn’t get paid.

'The Revenant' Producer on the Bear Scene That Took on "Myths of Its Own"

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

In the film, Glass has a half-Pawnee son whose murder fuels his fierce pursuit of justice. There’s only one minor problem: Glass never had a half-Pawnee son.

But Fitzgerald never tried to suffocate Glass, as he does in the film, nor did he murder Glass’ beloved half-Pawnee son — mostly because Glass didn’t have a beloved half-Pawnee son. But seeking vengeance against a child killer is box-office gold.

The two minders set out for Fort Henry, and while the film depicts their journey as perilous and semi-epic, it was neither. They arrived two days after the others, displayed Glass’ armaments and collected their reward. While the duo’s conduct was dastardly by modern sensibilities, leaving their sure-to-die comrade wasn’t what got mountain men talking. They were a hard lot with an affinity for risk management. Heinous and unforgiveable to mountain men, however, was taking a man’s only means of survival — his tools.

As for what happens next — Glass’ solitary crawl to Fort Kiowa, which comprises the bulk of The Revenant — all we have to go on is the savaged trapper’s testimony, as passed on to a bunch of lying, hard-drinking louts with nicknames like Pegleg and Liver-Eating, who, in turn, relayed the account to reporters and writers of not much greater repute.

Still, one can ascertain with high probability a few things: One of Glass’ legs was broken, and his throat had been mangled so terribly that he’d never speak in the same voice again. He would lie next to the stream for five days, subsisting on a large rattlesnake he killed with a sharp stone. (Filmgoers might have gone for the rattlesnake eating. Go figure.)

He did crawl, and then crawled some more, and after that, he limped. The film got that right.

He did not get chased off a cliff, nor did he crawl inside a horse carcass for warmth. He did not meet a Native American with a sly sense of humor who tossed him a buffalo liver. Perhaps he ate some liver on his sojourn, but the truth is, he ate far more dog. Dog eating was not such a big deal back then. The Comanche thought it was disgusting, true, but it was a staple of the Sioux diet. The Kickapoo revered dogs, believing they had spirits like humans and lived in heaven after death. The Kickapoo bottle-fed their dogs, kept their paws from the dusty ground, washed and swaddled and sang to them. They also ate puppy stew.

But enough with the dog-eating. What about the buffalo? Glass did, in fact, eat a calf that was being worked over by wolves. And yes, if the wolves hadn’t gotten to it first, he probably ate the liver. And he did shoo the wolves away, but he waited till he saw they had eaten their fill.

Did he burn with rage and seethe with the compulsion to seek justice, to kill the men who had betrayed him, as the film depicts? You bet he did.

'The Revenant': Film Review

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

Three books on the life of Hugh Glass were written long before Michael Punke’s 2002 novel, The Revenant, including the closest thing to a historical account, ‘The Saga of Hugh Glass,’ which was published in 1976.

But not for child murder — he just wanted his gun back. His beloved and trustworthy Hawken. And if he had to crawl and limp 350 miles to kill the bastard who stole it, so be it. The film doesn’t get into the whole man-rifle bond too much. It also doesn’t mention the few days Glass spent with some friendly Sioux, who welcomed him to their village, where they cleaned the maggots from his back wound and poured vegetable juice on it.

Glass kept walking. After many weeks, he joined six French traders at Fort Kiowa, who he thought might drop him off near Fort Tilton, where he suspected the rifle thieves would be. After six weeks he parted ways with the Frenchmen. Just a mile later, they were butchered by Ree. Some Ree spotted Glass and gave chase, but a Mandan on horseback swept in, pulled him aboard and took him to his village. Mandans generally didn’t like Ree. The Mandan villagers made a big deal over him. For supper? Man’s best friend.

Glass then decided to go to Fort Henry, about 400 miles back in the direction from which he’d come. He never floated downstream in frigid water (it would have killed him), but he did stop at a fort to ask after his two sworn enemies and to catch up on mountain man gossip. There was another Ree attack that he managed to survive. There was a stretch where he subsisted on more bison calf, but now, stronger, he simply walked into a vast herd, ran down a calf, killed it, cooked it and ate it.

Can you blame Inarritu for leaving out so much? Who wants to see a dog-and-calf buffet? Who would believe a guy went through all that trouble for a rifle? Too many miles, too many Ree attacks, too many arrows. The film already runs two hours and 36 minutes.

Glass eventually found Bridger at Fort Henry, and Bridger thought he was a ghost. Instead of killing him, Glass lectured the kid and told him he knew Fitzgerald had persuaded him to leave. Then Glass invoked God and told Bridger to behave better in the future.

Revenant ‘s Glass finally tracks down Fitzgerald, wounds him, then floats him downstream to a gang of Ree, who finish the job. But that’s not what really happened. When Glass arrived at Fort Atkinson in 1824, after another long trek, he learned that while Fitzgerald was indeed present, he had enlisted in the Army. A captain named Bennet Riley informed Glass that he could not kill a soldier — if he did, he’d be tried for murder. When Riley heard Glass’ story, he offered to fetch Glass’ beloved rifle back. What a reunion it must have been.

The film’s final shot is of a terribly wronged but righteous man, peering with grit and hard-won wisdom into a forbidding but conquerable wilderness. Not even a Texas state school board would quibble with that vision of how the West was won. If you like Manifest Destiny, this ending is for you.

Another popular version of the Glass legend has him suf­fering and crawling, but instead of dispatching his arch-enemy, he finds himself swollen with empathy and love, and turns his chiseled, manly cheek and forgives Fitzgerald, as he did Bridger. This too syncs with our notions of how the West was won, or conquered, or not exactly stolen. Forgiveness works about as well as vengeance, as long as you get other stuff right.

What actually happened was more complex. Glass tried his hand at trading in New Mexico, didn’t like it and went back to trapping. Then Europeans developed a taste for cloth hats, and the trapping business dried up. Wagon trains started coming, too, and along with them women, children, dogs whose owners objected to them becoming a source of protein. Civilization.

Fitzgerald was never heard from again. Bridger went on to establish, in 1842 in southwestern Wyoming, the first resupply post for settlers on the Oregon, California and Mormon trails, opening up the path west and effectively ending the era of the mountain man. And the ne plus ultra of those unruly, undisciplined, comfort-spurning creatures?

Glass endured, as the world he knew best faded away. He took a job with a new fur company. He trapped some himself. He told stories about the old days, including some juicy ones about grizzlies and rattlesnakes. Some say his greatest talent was in creating and polishing the Legend of Hugh Glass.

In the winter of 1832-33, Glass was living at Fort Cass, a new garrison built near the junction of the Yellowstone and Bighorn rivers. He worked as a hunter, procuring meat for the trappers of the American Fur Company, owned by John Jacob Astor. One cold morning in the spring of 1833, he and two other hunters left the fort looking to kill a bear or two. They hadn’t walked far, and it was considered safe territory. As they made their way across the frozen Yellowstone River, 30 Ree on horseback surrounded them.

They took Glass’ clothes, his gear. Then they scalped him.

Nothing heroic about his death. Nothing tied to the American dream or the nobility of pioneers. Glass had grown overconfident. He had grown careless. He had grown old.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

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The Man Who Plays the Bear that Attacks Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant Is Speaking Out

The Revenant has been making waves in the movie world since its Christmas day release, particularly for the hyper-realistic scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is savagely attacked by a bear. However, as authentic as the grizzly appears, the now-infamous beast is actually a result of CGI. “There was no bear ever on set,” stuntman Glenn Ennis told Global News . “The closest a bear ever got to set (that we knew of) was at the Calgary Zoo.”

Ennis was one of two stuntmen who stood in for the computer-generated bear while filming was taking place, and was charged with portraying as convincing a grizzly as possible. “In rehearsals, I would wear a blue suit with a bear head,” he said. “Obviously that doesn’t make it into the film, and the CGI guys paint the bear in. Alejandro [G. Iñárritu] was adamant that the blue bear moved just like a real bear would move, and it was essential that it had the same nuances that a bear would have. Even though it was a big Smurf bear, it still had to be as authentic as possible.”

Read More: This Video Is the Only Cure for Watching The Revenant

The 51-year-old Vancouverite explained that the role often required him to spend quite a bit of time up close and personal with the film’s star : “If you notice the bear head in the picture, they wanted the bear mouth to be right on his lower back. I was supposed to grab his jacket with my hand to make it look like the bear’s jaws were pulling it. In order to have the bear’s jaw in the small of his back, basically my face was in his butt. My face was in Leo’s butt for a fair bit of time. I can see how that’s someone’s fantasy, but it wasn’t mine!”

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Write to Megan McCluskey at [email protected] .

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

  • Main content

How that infamous bear-attack scene in 'The Revenant' was made, and other secrets of the movie revealed

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu may have insisted on making his new movie "The Revenant," which came out on Christmas Day, as authentic as possible — including having actors go through a week-long boot camp  to correctly portray mountain men in the 1800s — but there was still some movie magic needed to pull off this gory revenge tale.

That's where legendary production designer Jack Fisk comes in. He's best known for the beautifully designed period settings in movies like "The Thin Red Line," " The New World," and "There Will Be Blood" over his three-decade career.

Here, Fisk reveals some of the secrets behind the making of "The Revenant," including how that now-legendary bear scene came to be.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

There was no real bear used in the filming of the grizzly attack scene.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is the incredible bear attack on Leonardo DiCaprio's character Hugh Glass. The scene is intense, violent, and, according to Fisk, completely done though stunt men and CGI. And, no, of course there is no rape .

So there wasn't even a trained bear for some of it?

"None. We had no real bears on set," Fisk said. "We looked at bears, but they were all so fat. These trained bears in captivity that you see on TV shows, they don't look like a wild grizzly bear from the 1800s."

According to Fisk, the scene was rehearsed with the stunt department for months before they even got on set in Squamish, British Columbia. Then on the day, he dressed the area where the attack took place with 25-foot rubber trees so when DiCaprio smashed into them, he wouldn't get injured. The actor was then strapped to harnesses attached to cables the stunt team used to yank him around. The grizzly was then added digitally in postproduction.

Fake horses were created for the scene in which DiCaprio cuts one open to stay warm.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

The bear scene was certainly not the only jaw-dropping sequence in "The Revenant." Later in the movie, as Glass sets out to enact his revenge on the people who left him after the grizzly attack, he must run from a group of angry Native Americans. To escape them, he and his horse jump a cliff and land on a giant pine tree. As it begins to snow, Glass cuts open the horse, takes out its guts, and crawls inside until the storm passes.

"The horse was built and the guts inside were created out of latex and hair," Fisk said. The props department built one horse for DiCaprio to crawl inside and another horse for the chase scene in which they go off the cliff.

"We brought in 15 big pine trees, some of them 50 feet tall. And we snowed in the area," Fisk said. "Like the bear scene, the snow around the horse was always being trampled on, so between takes we were constantly using the snow machine."

The location where DiCaprio finds the bison herd was discovered by accident.

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic

Fisk says the biggest challenge he had on the film was finding the remote locations for shooting. That's largely because, as the movie was shot with only natural light, Fisk had to find locations with a south or southwest vista.

In one striking scene, Glass comes across a herd of bison, leading to a part with a Native American offering Glass the liver of one of the bison he's eating. Fisk said that that location was found by accident.

"We were checking out a river one day, stopped the boats at a point, and, walking up this hill, we found this large vista," Fisk said. "The sun was setting, it was the perfect time of day to see it. Everyone thought, 'My God, this is what we've been looking for.'"

Fisk and his team lined the top of the hill with bushes. Computer graphics were used to create the herd of buffalo. Fisk said only one prop bison was created for the liver scene.

"The AD said, 'Where's the second one?' and I told him a man can eat maybe 10 pounds of meat. Between the two of them they wouldn't even put a dent in it."

Fisk recalls seeing DiCaprio eat the real bison liver : "I thought Leo was vegetarian, but he went for it."

is the bear attack in the revenant realistic


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    is the bear attack in the revenant realistic


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