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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Look what the cat dragged in!

The Revenant (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Night sounds surround us. “It's okay, son,” frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells his half-breed son Hawk (Forrest Good­luck). “I know you want this to be over. I'm right here. I will be right here. But don't you give up, hear me.” His mom has been killed in a raid, and his dad is fortifying him with encouragement. “As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe ... keep breathing.”

Now Glass has his son with him on a hunting expedition he's scouting for in the icy wilderness of 1820s South Dakota. They get attacked from the trees (“I can't see 'em”) by the local natives, Arikara Indians (“They want the pelts.”) The survivors flee (“Grab the pelts.”)

An argument ensues between Glass and his confederate John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) over which route to take. Experienced and savvy Glass prevails and goes ahead to scout. He gets severely mauled by a grizzly mama tending her cubs. His injuries are on the order of those of a grizzly-wounded trapper in a Kitty Sewell novel: “He's stable, but he's prac­tic­ally torn to shreds. No apparent internal injuries. Just a few broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder. Thank God he was wearing a lot of clothes. And a friend was with him. This guy's gotta have a guardian angel” (264). Glass is similarly fortunate but lacks good transport to any aid station, so his friend Fitzgerald suggests to the men, “The proper thing to do is finish him off quick. He'll be dead inside an hour.” Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), how­ever, won't hear of it and leaves three volunteers to tend the dying man, telling them, “Glass is to be cared for as long as necessary,” and he's to be “given a proper burial when it's time he ended it.”

Fitzgerald once alone with Glass offers a last rite, “Are you ready to take the sacrament? I could do that for you” before attempting to smother him. Hawk tries to inter­vene but is no match for Fitz who then can't account for Hawk to their 3rd volunteer (“Where's Hawk?”) Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) when he returns (“He ain't with you?”) Instead, Fitz persuades Bridger to abscond abandoning Glass on his last gasp to escape supposed marauding Indians.

Sewell's novel touts “the precautions and the care a human had to observe in the depths of an arctic winter. How very easy it would be to cease to exist, by doing nothing, just being out there, getting lost, freezing.” ¶“It's called death by omission” (256). Glass being abandoned and deserted, injured and facing the elements and the hostiles, has every excuse to throw in the towel. But he recalls his wife: “As long as you can still grab a breath, you fight. You breathe. Keep breathing.”


The grizzly attack was almost too realistic on screen. Man! But at least Glass survived it (for the moment.) Encounters with Fitzgerald are another matter. People don't tend to survive them. Reminds me of, (Prov. 17:12) “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.” It all gets set in stark relief when Fitzgerald shows up at the fort to claim his bonus for staying with dying Glass. He says, “Now we did what we had to do.” He tells the captain how they buried him proper covering the grave with rocks so scavengers can't get at him. In actuality he was buried alive in a shallow grave. The captain tells him, “Thank you for your courage and honor. We all saw the shape Glass was in. There was no more to be done,” and he gives him his reward.

A tenacious Glass is making his way slowly back, and when the two finally confront each other, we see that Fitzgerald's problem with Glass was the latter's mixed marriage to an Indian maiden producing a half-breed whom Fitz calls a sissy. Some­thing deeper in the form of a metaphor is in play when a Bible is prominently displayed on the captain's desk when he pays Fitzgerald. I think it has to do with the premature burial of the King James Version (KJV). Let's just look at some background.

One point this movie seems to address is that given by Prof. George P. Marsh in an 1859 graduate English lecture regarding the KJV, back when it was about the only English Bible available:

Now, in the early part of the sixteenth century, when the development of our religious dialect was completed, the English mind, and the English language, were generally in a state of culture much more analogous to that of the people and the tongues of Palestine than they have been at any other subsequent period. Two centuries later the native speech had been greatly subtilized, if not refined. Good vernacular words had been supplanted by foreign intruders, comprehensive ideas and their vocabulary had been split up into artificially discriminated thoughts, and a corresponding multitude of terms. The language in fact had become too copious, and too specific, to have any true correspondences with so simple and inartificial a diction as that of the Christian Scriptures. Had the Bible then for the first time appeared in an English dress, the translators would have been perplexed and confounded with the multitude of terms, each expressing a fragment, few the whole, of the meaning of the original words for which they must stand; and whereas, three hundred years ago, but one good translation was possible, the eighteenth century might have produced a dozen, none altogether good, but none much worse than another. We may learn from a paragraph in Trench what a different vocabulary the Bible would have displayed, if it had been first executed or thoroughly revised at that period. One commentator, he says, thought the phrase “clean escaped” a very low expression; another would reject “straightway, haply, twain, athirst, wax (in the sense of grow), lack, ensample, jeopardy, garner, passion,” as obsolete; while the author of a new translation condemns as clownish, barbarous, base, hard, technical, misapplied, or new-coined, such words as beguile, boisterous, lineage, perseverance, potentate, remit, shorn, swerved, vigilant, unloose, unction, vocation, and hundreds of others now altogether approved and familiar. (452–53)

Here and now we have a reversion of, (1Cor. 13:9-10) “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” The new Bibles are necessarily partial expressions, but the KJV is “perfect”, i.e. complete. Unfortunately, it has fallen on hard times à la (Eccl. 4:13-14) “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” The good native words of the KJV have become poor in usage during the course of time as was Glass unable to talk. The new versions have been contaminated by their worldly roots, like an ex-con with his bad speech habits, or like Fitzgerald whose murderous intentions bespoke a rather shady past, “For out of prison he cometh to reign.”

With necessarily partial expressions (while the complete version is out of commission), the proper form for study is, (1Cor. 14:29) “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other[s] judge.” Back in Paul's day prophets spoke God's word, now we read the Bibles. If they're partial expressions, then we should get two or three versions for each verse or passage, and do comparison & make some kind of judgment. Just as there were three (or two) volunteers to tend Glass. If one of these versions won't allow any other to chip in once it has spoken, then it's like that “old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.” Just as Fitzgerald killed or dominated the other two tenders.

Now, to apply this to the mixed marriage issue as suggested by the plot. A sister in Christ from Singapore, a new believer, came to me with her complaint back in about 1980. Seems that her (international ministry) fellowship got her to break up with her fiancé of nine years when they showed her in the Bible (NIV) where a Christian is supposed to marry only to another Christian. That's not in my (KJV) Bible, but in the NIV.

I went to a similar group's study. They did not like my King James Version; they wanted modern language Bibles, so I brought my J.B. Phillips, the others, the NIV.

By and by, we got to 1Cor. 7:39 where our Bibles disagreed: their NIV said that a widow is at liberty to marry whom she will, “but he must belong to the Lord,” while my Phillips there said, “but let her be guided by the Lord.” I wanted to use the KJV's literal “only in the Lord” to sort it out—an adverbial expression referring to her own state of heart, not to the selected one—, but they were so sure they were all right that they wouldn't consider any­thing else. The sister was devastated when they forced her to call off the engagement.

More recently I did a locum tenens as a catechumen at a high church. They have kind of a loosey goosey approach to actually following scripture. When the priest got on a rant about how a Christian was only allowed to marry to another Christian, I pointed out that the apostle Paul does indeed allow entering mixed marriage (see my brief study). That stopped him in his tracks. Now, I have no ambition to be a church reformer, so I came back to my local non-denominational church and only ask that in our studies we either use the KJV exclusively or else if modern versions get used, that they are quoted in conjunction with one or two other versions as we go, for comparison so I don't passively contribute to the devastation they may cause in these other churches who take them at face value.

Production Values

This popular movie “” (2015) was co-written & directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The other writer Mark L. Smith helped adapt it from Michael Punke's novel The Revenant. It's inspired by true events though modified for dramatization. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter. The acting was all fine, just bear in mind that the body loses heat through speech, so there wasn't a lot of talking in the cold environs, just a steady trek.

MPAA rated it R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity. Emmanuel Lubezki's Cinema­tog­raphy of “The Revenant” was marvelous. The entire film was shot using only natural light. Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto & Bryce Dessner's score is right on the money. Art & costume design ditto. Action sequences are elemental. CGI doesn't get any better. Glorious panoramic wintry vistas almost made me shiver in my seat. The bear looked like she could have jumped out of the screen.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I was enthralled by this movie and hardly noticed the passing of time. It was a refreshing change from standard Hollywood fare. Follow the crowd and go see it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted is from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Print.

The New Testament in Modern English. Translated by J.B Phillips. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1959. Print.

Marsh, George P. “Early English especially appropriate to the translation of the Bible.”
       Lectures on the English Language. London: John Murray, 1863. Print.
       ——available to read or download at www.bibles.n7nz.org.

Sewell, Kitty. Ice Trap. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.