In The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a real-life fur trapper in the 1800s who was mauled by a bear and left for dead. But that’s only one of the many difficult challenges he faced. Read on to find out what other dangerous situations Glass overcame and the brutal way he actually died.
1. Glass had been a pirate
More accurately, Glass (DiCaprio) was a sailor who was captured by the famous French-American pirate Jean Lafitte and forced to serve Lafitte and do his bidding. But Glass, a religious man, didn’t have the heart to murder and pillage the way pirates did in those days. Glass and a fellow hostage escaped the ship, swimming two miles to land and coming ashore somewhere in Texas.
2. Glass was almost a human sacrifice
When Glass and his companion were captured by an indigenous tribe thought to be the Wolf Pawnee, Glass witnessed his friend get burned at the stake in a ritual killing. Glass only managed to save himself by presenting a valuable package of vermilion pigment to the tribe’s leader, who released him.
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3. Glass married a Pawnee woman, then left her
In The Revenant, we see Glass’s Native American wife and son, but in real life, it is unknown if he had any children. After living with the Pawnee tribe for about two years, there is some evidence he was captured. Glass traveled with the Pawnee as part of a delegation to meet with United States authorities in St. Louis. Once in the city, however, Glass was no longer interested in tribal life and took work as a fur trapper.
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4. Surviving the bear mauling
Probably the most shocking scene in The Revenant is when Glass gets attacked by the mother grizzly bear. In real life, his wounds from the mauling included a broken leg and slashes on his back that exposed his ribs. After being abandoned by fellow fur trappers John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), Glass discovered he was left for dead. He managed to set his own leg and, as infection in his wounds set in, Glass laid back on a rotting log to let the maggots eat his dead skin.
5. Glass forgave Jim Bridger
When Glass confronted the young Jim Bridger, he decided Fitzgerald was the mastermind behind abandoning him and forgave the trapper.
6. Glass was prevented from taking revenge on Fitzgerald
After about a year of searching, Glass found Fitzgerald at Fort Atkinson, where his gun was returned to him, but the Army captain forbade Glass to kill Fitzgerald, since Fitzgerald was a U.S. soldier.
7. Attack by Shoshone warriors
After moving to Taos, New Mexico, Glass continued to work as a fur trapper. During an expedition to Colorado, Glass and another trapper were attacked when they startled a Shoshone woman whose scream alerted nearby tribesmen. Glass received an arrow in his back and had to suffer with the painful wound all the way back to New Mexico, where a fellow trapper used a razor to dig the arrowhead out of Glass’s flesh.
8. Glass’s real death was brutal
In 1833, Glass went on his last fur trapping expedition, near Fort Cass in Tennessee. Glass and two other trappers were ambushed by members of the Arikara tribe. All three fur trappers were shot and scalped in the encounter.
9. Revenge for Glass
Not long after Glass’s death, another fur trapper, Johnson Gardner, came into contact with some of the Arikara tribe. Gardner noticed one of them had Glass’s gun and realized these were the men who had killed Glass and the other two trappers. Gardner and his men captured two Arikara men, scalped them, and burned them alive.
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10. Other films inspired by Hugh glass
In 1971, the film Man in the Wilderness, starring Richard Harris, was loosely based on Hugh Glass. In 1975, another film inspired by Hugh Glass called Apache Blood featured Dewitt Lee as a character named Sam Glass.
11. The fashion industry’s connection to beaver fur
Beaver fur went through a process called felting and was then made into fancy fur hats. These hats were a way for European men to show off their wealth and social rank. By the 1800s, the price for beaver pelts reach $6 per pound, creating a huge boost to the American economy.
The Revenant opens in limited release on Dec. 25 before opening wide on Jan. 8.
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