How Historically Accurate is The Revenant?

I’m a keen consumer of podcasts and as the Oscar nominations were released one of my favourite podcasts, Screen junkies Movie Fights debated who would win ‘best picture’ among other things. This is when The Revenant first appeared on my radar. My interest was instantly pricked partly due to the hardships Leonardo DiCaprio went through to make this movie and partly due to this movie being based on a true story.

Hugh Glass Illustration

Illustration of Hugh Glass and his legendary bear attack published at the time for a newspaper.

I managed to persuade my regular cinema buddies to come and see this movie at our local multiplex. I have to admit that despite it being a challenge at times I really enjoyed The Revenant.

So what’s the movie about?

Well it’s a movie based in part on a novel called The Revenant by Michael Punke, which in turn is inspired by the true story of frontiersman Hugh Glass. In brief Hugh Glass and other fur trappers are hunting pelts when they are attacked by Arikara Native Americans. Glass and other survivors flee on a boat. They continue their journey on foot to their outpost, Fort Kiowa. Glass is scouting ahead when he disturbs a grizzly bear and her cubs. The bear attacks him and leaves him presumably mortally wounded. Three people including Glass’s half Pawnee son Hawk stay behind to bury him when he dies. One of the men, Fitzgerald ends up killing Hawk and abandoning Glass. The remainder of the movie follows Glass as he battles to survive and make his way back to Fort Kiowa then seeks out Fitzgerald to extract his revenge.

Is it accurate?

Continue reading

Is the Movie Lincoln Historically Accurate?

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States.

Last night I finally got the opportunity to visit the cinema and watch Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama Lincoln which I thoroughly enjoyed. The film focuses on the Lincolns efforts in the last few months of his life to pass the 13th amendment to the Constitution in the House of Representatives outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude.

I was keen to see this film having had an interest in the American Civil War for a number of years. I am a fan of Ken Burns excellent film ‘The Civil War’ (I am aware it is rather pro-Union) and was lucky enough to visit the battlefields of Gettysburg in 2003. Unfortunately for me however the Civil War is simply something going on in the background and although frequently mentioned it does not receive the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ treatment. The two exceptions are the opening sequence where we see close quarters fighting during the lesser known Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry and near the end of the movie where Lincoln surveys the aftermath of the Siege of Petersburg. Continue reading