Category Archives: History

The Dark Is All Around Us: The Film Classic, The Lion in Winter



Christmas, and all the family is gathered together for the holidays. There’s a massive tree, lots of presents, spiced wine, feasting, and rancor galore. All the past year’s resentments and disappointments come bubbling to the surface because Daddy — a great, roaring lion of a man — is getting older and needs to think of which of his sons will follow him as the leader of the pride. He’s made no secret of his favorite, and his choice displeases everyone else. Mommy has her favorite, you see, and is determined to see that her special boy gets to succeed.

As if that weren’t enough tension and conflict, there’s yet another son who can’t understand why nobody in the family ever thinks of him when they think of the next head of the family business. To make everyone more edgy, let’s toss in the leader of a rival family, who has his own agenda, which mostly involves making sure the lion of this family goes down hard. To complicate things even further and make everything even more dangerous, lets throw in some tapestries for hiding behind, as well as some sharp, shiny knives — metaphorical and literal ones — for everyone to use against everybody else.

Welcome to the Christmas court of England’s Henry II in 1183. Adapted from James Goldman’s Broadway play of the same name, the witty, brutal, and passionate holiday gathering in the Oscar-winning classic The Lion in Winter (1968) makes crime dramas like The Godfather seem downright tame.

Peter O’Toole as Henry II (right) and Katharine Hepburn as his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (left), The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Henry II (Peter O’Toole) is 50 this Christmas, and he lets his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn) out of prison for the holidays. It seems Eleanor has led quite a few civil wars against Henry, over the succession no doubt, and Henry has to keep her imprisoned in order to feel safe. He’s letting Eleanor out this holiday season so they can plan, i.e., plot, who will become the next king.

Anthony Hopkins as Richard, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Their first son, Henry, died, and while you might think that their next son, Richard (Anthony Hopkins, in his first starring role), should be the designated king, and Eleanor heartily approves of Richard as England’s next ruler, and not just because he’s her favorite. Richard, known later as Richard the Lionheart, is a great miliary leader and a proven warrior, and Queen Eleanor thinks that a necessary qualification for Henry’s successor, if only because France and England are still fighting over land.

(L-R) Nigel Terry as John, Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor, Anthony Hopkins as Richard, and John Castle as Geoffrey, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Henry is the King of England but also the Lord of Ireland, Count of Anjou (similar to the English Duke of York, which would make Henry second in line to the French throne), and Duke of both Normandy and Aquitaine (in France, through his marriage to Eleanor), and Henry II doesn’t want Richard as the future king of England. Henry has other ideas for his presumptive heir.

John Castle as Geoffrey (L), and Nigel Terry as John, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Henry wants his youngest son John (Nigel Terry) to succeed, not because he’d make a better king but simply because Henry loves John best.

Timothy Dalton as King Philip II of France (L), John Castle as Geoffrey (center), and Nigel Terry as John, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

None of this squabbling over Richard vs. John sits too well with brother Geoffrey (John Castle), who can’t understand why both Henry and Eleanor think their middle son would make a wonderful chancellor to the next king but never seem to think of Geoff as King Geoffrey, so he begins to plot against his father with both Richard and John as well as with one of Henry’s allies.

Jane Merrow as Alais, and Peter O’Toole as Henry II, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Young Princess Alais (Jane Merrow), who’s betrothed to marry the future King of England, doesn’t want any of Henry’s sons to be the future king. As Henry’s lover and long-time mistress, she want’s no one but Henry as king.

Timothy Dalton as King Philip II of France, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Alais’ brother, King Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton, in his film debut) wants the lovely Alais to be wed to the heir to the English throne right away. If that doesn’t happen during this Christmas visit, Philip wants his sister’s dowry back. Since Alais’ dowry is land in France, which both England and France claim at the time, Henry certainly doesn’t want to give back the dowry. Philip already knows this, so he’s plotting with Richard, Geoffrey, and John, and Philip is planning war with Henry, no matter whom he chooses as his successor.

Peter O’Toole as Henry II (L), and Timothy Dalton as King Philip II of France, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Henry’s fighting with his wife and all three of his sons, not only about who will be the next king, but who will get to marry Princess Alais. Henry doesn’t really want to give us Alais either: he’s madly in love with her.

Peter O’Toole as Henry II, and Jane Merrow as Alais (foreground), and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

And Eleanor, despite inciting rebellion against her husband and king, still madly loves Henry herself, and she’s well aware that Alais just happens to be young enough to give Henry more sons.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film are a bit slow, probably because everyone was trying a little too hard to say, “Look: we’re making a film, not jusstage playplay,” and while we get to see some outdoor shots where we meet the members of the family, none of these initial scenes really adds to the forward movement of the story. Once everyone is gathered together, however, it becomes obvious why this film is a classic.

from L to R: Timothy Dalton, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Katharine Hepburn, John Castle, and (sitting in foreground, L to R) Nigel Terry, and Jane Merrow, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

The script is magnificent, the characters brutally fascinating, and the acting superb: O’Toole most definitely should have won an Oscar for his role as the anxious, angry, roaring Lion who feels his own winter coming on far too quickly and who is willing to do almost anything to prevent the destruction of his kingdom.

Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Peter O’Toole as Henry II of England, The Lion in Winter (1968) ©

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Actor (O’Toole) and Best Costume Design (Margaret Furse), the film won three: Best Actress (Hepburn), Best Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman), and Best Music Score (John Barry). Lion in Winter also won BAFTAs for Hepburn and composer Barry, and won Golden Globes in Best Picture, and Best Actor for Peter O’Toole as the fiery Henry II.

Available for rent ($1.99-3.99) or purchase from Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, GooglePlay, and Vudu.

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Coming-of-Age with a Vampire: Let Me In, the Film



The concept of vampires or vampire-like beings — undead who return from the grave and exist by stealing the “life essence” (flesh or blood) of the living — has existed in the folklore of virtually all cultures for centuries. In earliest times, these blood-stealing beings were considered spirits or demons, but they have always been some of the most terrifying paranormal creatures to stalk mankind.

The vampire most familiar to many of us originated in southeastern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and counted among its reviled membership suicides, revenants, people accused of practicing witchcraft, people suspected of being possessed, or anyone who might have rebelled against Christian doctrine or Church teachings. During the Age of Enlightenment, “belief in vampires increased dramatically,” and many rituals were developed to both identify and protect humans from these undead creatures, including hanging wreaths of garlic on doors or windows, blessing people, rooms, and houses with holy water, and staking or decapitating corpses to prevent the bodies from returning.

800-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria stabbed through the chest with iron rod, via Wikipedia

Not only did these undead creatures harm and kill the living in order to maintain their own existence, they often appeared in their human form, albeit slightly changed in complexion and dental work, and lured their own loved ones to the grave. In the 18th century, vampire superstition in Europe sometimes reached mass hysteria, causing corpses to be staked or beheaded to ensure that they couldn’t rise from the dead to seek out more victims.

Originally, vampires were dark, gruesome beings: unattractive and undeniably otherworldly. In the early 19th century, with fiction, vampires changed, becoming less gruesome and more… shall we say, attractive.

The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori; the story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and provided the basis of the modern vampire legend. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, and television shows. The vampire has since become a dominant figure in the horror genre.

Though vampires have long been a feature of the horror genre, there’s a strange trend in contemporary vampire fiction, and the dramas based on them, including Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Vampires, despite needing the blood of living humans or other animals to survive, have been romanticized to the point of being almost totally non-violent. Some of the vampires in these contemporary novels are even more humane and virtuous than most human beings, which may be the point since the novels in which these vampires appear are romances and love stories. It’s a sweet interpretation of vampires: if they love you, they won’t harm you.

The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

But part of the terror of really great vampire stories is that the vampires can harm or even kill you, despite their caring about you. Maybe I’m prejudiced because my earliest introduction to vampires was the dreaded Count of Stoker’s classic Dracula, and horror films where vampires, be they Dracula or not, were dangerous and monstrous creatures that would kill you even if they liked you. I agree with film critic Roger Ebert when he points out that vampire stories, whether books or films, are inherently “tragic” and “brutal.”

It’s not all fun, games, and Team Edward. No lifestyle depending on fresh human blood can be anything but desperate. A vampire, like a drug addict, is driven by need. After a certain point, all else is irrelevant, and the focus is on the craving.

The horror film Let Me In (2010), a remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In, returns the vampire story to horror in its most horrifying manifestations. Though some critics describe this film as “romantic,” it is more a coming-of-age story than a romance, and it is a brutal coming-of-age tale. Despite the fact that several of the characters in the story love each other, most devotedly, Let Me In is a tale of isolation, alienation, brutality, helplessness, and the desperate will to survive by any means possible. These themes set this vampire film far above its contemporaries. It isn’t pretty or romantic to be a vampire or associated with a vampire in Let Me In. Instead, it’s downright lonely and scary.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, Let Me In © Overture Films

In a fictional version of Los Alamos, a small village in New Mexico, a string of grisly murders causes the community to lock its doors and become uncommonly wary. Twelve-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a lonely social outcast, neglected by his divorcing parents and bullied by his classmates.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby, Let Me In © Overture Films

Owen becomes friendly with his new neighbor Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), who lives in the adjoining apartment with a man that Owen assumes is her father (Richard Jenkins), and who seems to have some unnatural, even pedophiliac feelings for Abby.

Richard Jenkins and Chloë‘ Grace Moretz, Let Me In © Overture Films

Owen and Abby communicate by tapping Morse code on the walls at night, and they become extremely close to each other, if only because each is a loner: each is isolated from everyone else at school, and each seems to have a distant relationship with the parent figure in their lives. Though Owen and Abby like each other,  Abby’s father-guardian doesn’t want her to spend any time with Owen.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, Let Me In © Overture Films

As the bullying against Owen increases and gets more physically violent, he confides in Abby, rather than in his own mother. Abby encourages Owen to stand up for himself, to retaliate against the bullies, and, most important, vows to protect him.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby, Let Me In © Overture Films

When Abby’s father-guardian kills himself, she is as alone in the world as Owen perceives himself to be, and the pair becomes closer to each other. Abby promises to be Owen’s girlfriend.

Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz, Let Me In © Overture Films

When Owen becomes violent, in self-defense, to the boys who are bullying him, the story of the local murders and of his own coming-of-age combine: the detective (Elias Koteas) investigating the murders has begun investigating Abby.

Elias Koteas as the detective, Let Me In © Overture Films

After Owen sees Abby do something violent, and she asks for his help, he is forced to re-evaluate his own morality. Owen has formed a profound and protective bond with Abby, but he must now consider the possibility that she may be responsible for the gruesome killings that are terrorizing his small community.

[Very] close to the much-loved, critically acclaimed” Swedish original Let the Right One In, and equally critically acclaimed itself, Let Me In is a coming-of-age story about isolation and loneliness, about alienation and a need to connect, about brutality and the primitive need to exist. It’s a coming-of-age story with a paranormal twist. Featuring great performances by the child-actors, and a completely unexpected ending, Let Me In is available for rent ($2.99-3.99 SD/HD) from Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, GooglePlay, and Vudu.

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The Master of Pleasures and The Taste of Cherries: Vatel, the Film



In April 1671, on the eve of the Franco-Dutch War, France’s King Louis XIV — the Sun King — desperately needed the military support and expertise of his country’s generals. The formerly rebellious but extremely famous Prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé was thus informed that King Louis would “honor him” with a three-day visit to Condé’s magnificent Château de Chantilly. Since King Louis always insisted that his nobles and all their sycophants travel with him wherever he went, the honor of such a visit was dubious as well as incredibly expensive. Condé turned all the preparations over to his maître d’hôtel, François Vatel, who had approximately two weeks to prepare menus and festivities to entertain the King, the Queen, the Prince, the Princess, 600 nobles, and several thousand additional visitors. Vatel, formerly the most celebrated chef of his generation, had to orchestrate an extravagant festival which was to culminate in an elaborate banquet so impressive that the King would appoint Condé his general.

Château de Chantilly ©

Based on the true story of Vatel as it was related in several contemporaneous letters by Prince Condé and also by the notorious gossip Madame de Sévigné, as well as on multiple contemporaneous memoirs, the film Vatel was originally written by Jeanne Labrune, adapted into English by Tom Stoppard, and directed by Roland Joffé. It is unclear which of those three expanded Vatel’s “banquet story” into a moral examination of the jaded 17th century French aristocrats. Filmed on location at the Château de Chantilly, Vatel is visually stunning and sumptuous. The castle itself, the furnishings, the gardens, the costumes, the jewels, and the food are all breathtakingly lush. Beneath these gorgeous trappings, however, the Sun King and his nobility are morally corrupt and corrosive. Further, a bitter discontent seethes under the aristocracy’s brittle veneer. In this world, “as opulent as it is cruel,” the moral choices you make can either elevate or, literally, destroy you.

Julian Glover as Prince Condé and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu as his wife, the Princess, Vatel ©

Vatel begins with a letter in which Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé (Julian Glover) is informed by the King’s minister Marquis de Lauzun that King Louis wishes to “visit and enjoy the simple pleasures of the country,” which, Lauzun continues, means that Condé should “spare no expense whatsoever to entertain the king.” Condé is distressed. He is in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy (a departure from historical fact: Condé was extravagantly wealthy). If appointed General in a war with Holland, however, Condé’s debts will be paid by King Louis, so the Prince is desperate to please Louis.

Depardieu as Vatel, and Glover as Condé, Vatel ©

Condé’s maître d’hôtel Vatel (Gérard Depardieu) is confident in his own abilities to entertain the King but more than slightly anxious about all the preparations: it is difficult to obtain supplies when one’s master has no money, even more difficult when one’s master is already significantly in debt to all the local producers and suppliers. As the guests arrive, Vatel, already encountering tactical difficulties concerning the entertainments, finds himself in the midst of multiple moral quagmires as well.

Murray Lachlan Young as Philippe of France, Duke of Orléans, Monsieur, The King’s Brother, Vatel ©

Monsieur, the King’s Brother (Murray Lachlan Young), though accompanied by his lover Marquis of Effiat, nevertheless wishes to have sexual relations with a young country boy. Vatel intervenes, igniting Monsieur’s displeasure and anger.

Julien Sands as King Louis XIV, Vatel ©

King Louis (Julian Sands), who has brought with him not one but two mistresses, as well as his wife the Queen, becomes interested in the Queen’s beautiful lady-in-waiting, Anne de Montausier (Uma Thurman).

Vatel himself becomes enamored of Anne de Montausier: not only is she lovely, but she seems quite different from the rest of the nobles and aristocracy.

Uma Thurman as Anne de Montausier and Tim Roth as Lauzun, Vatel ©

Unfortunately, the Marquis de Lauzun (Tim Roth) wants for Lady-in-waiting de Montausier for himself, so he bristles at both the King’s and Vatel’s interest in her. Lauzun sets spies on de Montausier as well as on Vatel.

Depardieu as Vatel and Thurman as Montausier, Vatel ©

Hounded by local suppliers, plagued by mounting disasters in the festivities, besieged by his master the Prince, threatened by Monsieur the King’s Brother, and manipulated by Marquis de Lauzun, the “Master of Pleasures” Vatel struggles to feed and entertain the royal guests and to resist his increasingly romantic feelings for a woman so far above his humble station.

Though the New York Times critic found Vatel “a costume drama with far more costumes than drama… as shallow as the court popinjays it seeks to expose,” the LA Times critic found it to be “a timeless tale of love and sacrifice.”

With strong writing and tremendous acting by all the principals, Vatel was nominated for awards in Best Art Direction, Set Decoration, Costume Design, and Production Design, winning a César (French Oscar) in Production Design.

Vatel is available for rent (or purchase) from Amazon ($2.99 HD), YouTube ($1.99 SD, $2.99 HD), iTunes ($2.99 SD), Vudu ($2.99 SD, $3.99 HD), and GooglePlay ($1.99 SD).

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When Clothes Destroyed the World: The Royal Tailor, the Film



We’ve been here before: the King is unhappy; the King is lonely; for some reason unknown to us, the King does not like being king. True, he was the younger son and never expected to rule, but the King also does not seem to even like, yet alone love, his beautiful, loyal wife, and no one at the court knows why. Are we talking about England’s Henry VIII, who longed to be remembered to history for his military prowess but, instead, is known for his six wives, some of whom he divorced and some of whom he actually had killed? No, we are in Korea during The Kingdom of Joseon, literally, the “Great Joseon State,” also known as Choson (and transliterated as such in the film’s subtitles), a Korean kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries, from 1392 to 1897.

women’s and men’s clothes (hanbok) of Joseaon (Chosun) dynasty [portrait painted by Shin Yun-Bok 1758?]

Much of modern Korean culture, etiquette, norms, and societal attitudes as well as the the modern Korean language and its dialects derive from the culture and traditions of Joseon. Korea’s 2014 film, The Royal Tailor (Sang-eui-won) examines the personal, political, and cultural struggles of one period in the Chosun dynasty by exploring a rivalry between two members of the Sanguiwon, the tailors responsible for creating the royal attire, and, by extension, the attire for nobility. The Royal Tailor is a sumptuous and intense exploration of how clothes can make a man, yet destroy a world.

Han Suk Kyu as Dol-Seok, The Royal Tailor ©

Dol-Seok (Han Suk Kyu) is the royal tailor, and he has served three generations of kings producing the traditional Korean hanbok. Though his designs are conservative, they are stunning with their elaborate embroidery on high quality silks.

Yoo Yeon Seok as the new King, The Royal Tailor ©

When the new king (Yoo Yeon Seok) announces the end of the mourning period for the deceased king, his older brother, he orders the Royal Tailor to make garments for the entire court. Dol-Seok, with his huge, in-palace workshop, is happy to oblige, and looks forward to being ennobled by this latest assignment from the King.

Park Shin Hye as the Queen, The Royal Tailor ©

Unfortunately, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” and despite his impending coronation, the King is still not happy. Not with his crown nor with his Queen (Park Shin Hye), the widow of his dead brother, now the wife of the new King. Though beautiful and young, the Queen is rumored to still be a virgin. Because she has not produced an heir to the throne, her position is precarious and in jeopardy. Further, there are many members in court who want to ensure their own advancement by finding the new king a brand new wife.

Han Suk Kyu as Dol-Seok, The Royal Tailor ©

When the Queen’s ladies accidentally damage the King’s coronation robe, she begs the Royal Tailor to restore it. Unfortunately, the restoration must be done overnight, and the Tailor protests that it simply cannot be done in such a short period. Terrified of the King’s wrath and even more fearful of losing her position, the Queen turns to an outsider.

Ko Soo as Kong-Jin, The Royal Tailor ©

Enter the radically daring designer Kong-Jin (Ko Soo), who has a tendency to lie about in brothels with gisaeng (courtesans), who proudly model his provocative designs, and who knows nothing about the court or about royal etiquette.

The Royal Tailor ©

After the King approves of the “new” coronation gown, which was dramatically altered by upstart tailor Kong-Jin to save its undamaged pieces after the accident, the Royal Tailor Dol-Seok must accept this novice into his palace workshop.

Kong-Jin knows absolutely nothing about using patterns to make clothing. Instead, he draws all his ideas for clothes. He also has the strangest ideas about clothing: that it should be comfortable, and that it should fit the person who wears it. To Dol-Seok’s horror, Kong-Jin also loves bright colors, sheer fabrics, tight sleeves, and shorter hems.

Han Suk Kyu as Dol-Seok (top) and Ko Soo as Kong-Jin (bottom), The Royal Tailor ©

The ensuing rivalry between the two tailors, one championed by the King, and the other by the Queen, mirrors the power struggle between the two royals themselves, as well as among the nobility who wish to control the King.

Lee Yoo-Bi as Soui, the King’s Concubine, The Royal Tailor ©

When power-hungry aristocrats introduce the Prime Minister’s lovely young daughter Soui (Lee Yoo-Bi) to the King, he takes her as his Royal Concubine, and the war between the factions intensifies. As if that situation weren’t dangerous enough, the young tailor Kong-Jin finds himself irresistibly drawn to the lovely but very lonely Queen.

Ko Soo as Kong-Jin and Park Shin Hye as the Queen, The Royal Tailor ©

Although the film has some light-hearted (and anachronistic) moments when Kong-Jin dresses some nobles in more comfortable hanbok styles and begins to undermine traditional court fashion, The Royal Tailor is not a comedy. Instead, it is an intense study of power politics on national and personal levels: between siblings, between royalty and nobility, aristocrats and lower classes, educated and self-taught, men and women, young and old, the traditional and the new.

In Korean with English subtitles, the award-winning and critically acclaimed The Royal Tailor is a luscious, beautifully filmed examination of power whose (mostly historically accurate) costumes, sets, and cinematography gloriously mirror the sublime beauty and the terrible ugliness of all its characters’ actions.

Available for rent from Amazon ($1.99 SD – $2.99 HD) or free for Prime members.

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Leonardo is The Man in the Wilderness in Oscar-Winning The Revenant


No Spoilers


I already knew the story of American trapper and Wilderness Man Hugh Glass before I heard of the film The Revenant, since My Guy was totally devoted to the 1971 film starring Richard Harris, Man in the Wilderness. Both films recount the tale of Glass, who was mauled by a grizzly bear, presumed to be dying by his companions, and abandoned — without food or weapons — in the wilderness.


Since Glass himself never gave any versions of the frightening and ultimately miraculous events, I assume his tale has been embellished by those who dramatized his amazing story of survival. First appearing in a Philadelphia literary journal The Portfolio, the story was soon picked up by other newspapers. Eventually, as you can imagine, the tale became a legend.

An avid outdoorsman himself, My Guy has always known about Hugh Glass, having first become familiar with his story from a book about Jim Bridger, a young boy who volunteered to stay with Glass after the grizzly attack, but then, along with the others, left him. I’ve seen Man in the Wilderness at least a dozen times myself since My Guy and I have been together, so I know the story and the film well. None of that prevented me from being completely captivated by the 2015 telling of the Glass story, The Revenant. 


“Inspired by true events,” The Revenant, which means “the returned,” as in “from the dead,” as in a spirit or ghost, gives us a new version of Hugh Glass, based somewhat on the novel of the same name by Michael Punke, based more on the dramatic screenplay by Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who gave Glass’ character a (deceased) Pawnee wife and son, and made him hell-bent on revenge against the men who abandoned him. Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Glass. Leonardo claims it was the most challenging and demanding role of his career, and The Revenant is riveting.


It begins with an Indian attack upon a group of trappers who are preparing their annual supply of pelts for sale. Like the battle scenes in Platoon, the initial battle between the trappers and the Indians in The Revenant is confusing, but that doesn’t detract from its intensity once you realize that it’s supposed to be confusing and frightening. If you just let yourself enjoy the drama of the scene, you’ll become totally captivated.


The bear attack on Hugh Glass is one of the most disturbing and unsettling events of the film, and I was surprised to learn that it only takes up 2 minutes of the 156-minute film. Even though I knew the story and knew the Grizzly attack in this film version was bound to be more realistic than that in the Richard Harris film, I was clutching my throat in horror during the intense scene. I would not recommend letting children see this portion of the film, especially if you live in an area populated with bears, as I do here on Big Rock Candy Mountain.


Because of Glass’ grievous injuries, the leader of the expedition, Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson, above) believes Glass’ death is imminent. Since the group fears another Indian attack, he requests volunteers to stay with Glass till he dies, then to bury him, then to rejoin the others as they return to the fort. Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy),


Jim Bridger (Will Poulter),


and Hugh Glass’ (fictional) son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck, below L)


all volunteer to stay with the trapper-guide until his death, when he is put into the grave.


But Hugh’s not dead.

And the film just gets better from there as Glass attempts to survive in the Wilderness without weapons or food, and to heal from his crippling injuries, which prevent him from eating, and expose bone to the elements.


The film’s scenery is stunning and overpowering. The music is excellent. The fictional elements added to Hugh Glass’ story, like his going after revenge against Fitzgerald, only add to The Revenant‘s incredible action. The hallucinatory elements, when Glass is wounded and he imagines his (fictional) dead wife urging him to keep on breathing, are well done and effective.


Even if you know the story of one of America’s most famous trappers and Wilderness Men, Hugh Glass, you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy this Hollywood version of his tale of survival. At the very least, you’ll adore Leonardo DiCaprio and appreciate his talent even more than you may have before he won the Oscar for this role.


You can watch The Revenant on HBO free if you’re a subscriber, or purchase it for $14.99 on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, and more. You can watch the official trailer before you decide to commit yourself to Hugh Glass’ terrifying yet inspiring story. You’ll want to watch it more than once, I guarantee you.



Filed under Actors, Film Videos, Films/Movies, History, Movies/Films, Review, Violence