Manifest Destiny & The Revenant

As a Film and Media major, I was so excited that we were going to talk about the movie, The Revenant, in class last week. While the violence is very graphic and it is sometimes hard to understand what the characters are saying (I’m looking at you, Tom Hardy), I do think The Revenant is a brilliant film, especially through its cinematography. The director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, is exceptional, along with the cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki (also known as Chivo) who worked with Iñárritu before on his previous Oscar winning film, Birdman (which is also brilliant). As a sort of film buff myself, I already knew that Iñárritu used no artificial lighting in his movie, except in one scene. I already knew the immense struggle the actors and the film crew had to go through because of the weather, which greatly shortened their shooting schedules.

Edit: Here I attached a video from Collider. The video is a short interview with both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy and their experience while filming (which starts around the 1:45 mark) .

One thing that I never really considered about the movie though that the Professor really emphasized in lecture, was the integration of a different culture and the whole concept of Mestizo. If the Manifest Destiny had to happen, I believe that Europeans should have been more like the character of Hugh Glass, who is 50% European and 50% American Indian. European settlers should have been more open-minded and respectful to Native American culture and territory. In an ideal world, they would have integrated themselves into a different culture, but because Native Americans were seen as “barbarians” and “uncivilized”, Europeans saw themselves as superior and more powerful than them and took away their land so they could bring more of the European culture into the Americas. Europeans feared Native American’s “savage” way of living, but Native Americans feared Europeans more due to their domination and constant threat.

massacre-of-indian-women-and-children-in-idaho-frank-leslie-illustrated

The only time Hugh Glass ever fights with other Native Americans is when they pose some sort of threat, either to himself or to the camp he is apart of. And while I think the dream sequences were unnecessary to the film, they do highlight his Pawnee self, and add a sense of fantastical nature, which usually appear in Iñárritu’s films. His friendship with the other Pawnee Native American also showcases that though Hugh Glass is not fully Pawnee, since he is partly Pawnee, he is still considered part of the tribe. And the man helps him out because Glass is one of the only ones left that is part of his people.

The film also emphasizes the environment and surroundings that the characters are in during the time period the movie takes place in, which showcases the beauty and brutality of nature (which is a binary). The picture that I attached below is absolutely breathtaking, but it also shows how isolating nature can be, which is what the Native Americans were going through the time of the Manifest Destiny and are still going through today.

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