Did Hugh Glass Die at the End of The Revenant?

Did Hugh Glass Die at the End of The Revenant

The burning question on many people’s minds after watching the gripping movie The Revenant is, “Did Hugh Glass die at the end?” To answer directly: the film leaves the fate of the main character, Hugh Glass, ambiguous. While there is much speculation surrounding this topic, the movie does not provide a clear-cut answer, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions based on the presented evidence and their interpretations. In this article, we’ll explore the different interpretations, insights from the creators, and more to shed light on this fiercely debated topic.

A Tale of Survival and Vengeance

The Revenant follows the harrowing journey of frontiersman Hugh Glass, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. After being gravely injured and left for dead by his expedition team, Glass embarks on a journey of survival through harsh wilderness conditions. Fueled by sheer will and the desire for vengeance against those who betrayed him, Glass faces nature’s wrath, Native American tribes, and his own haunting past.

Throughout the movie, there are moments of triumph and despair, creating a roller coaster of emotions. The ending, in particular, has been the subject of much discussion, as it leaves viewers with more questions than answers.

Did Hugh Glass Die at the End of The Revenant?

As the movie draws to a close, we see Glass engaging in a brutal fight with John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy. It’s a climax that many viewers anticipated – the moment where Glass finally gets his chance at revenge. However, instead of taking Fitzgerald’s life himself, Glass allows the Arikara tribe to decide his fate.

Following this confrontation, a severely injured Glass is seen lying next to a river, gazing into the distance. The screen fades to black as Glass slowly turns his head towards the audience, breaking the fourth wall. This haunting image leaves many pondering the fate of the central character.

Hugh Glass, The Revenant

Several interpretations arise from this scene:

  • Acceptance of Fate: Some argue that Glass, after completing his quest for revenge, has finally come to terms with his fate and is ready to pass on. His acceptance can be seen in his calm demeanor and the reflective look in his eyes as he faces the audience.
  • Ongoing Struggle: Another perspective is that Glass’s journey is far from over. He remains a survivor, having faced and overcome countless obstacles before. While he’s gravely injured, his spirit is unbroken, suggesting that he may continue to fight for another day.
  • A Call to the Audience: By breaking the fourth wall, some believe that the movie is asking viewers to decide Glass’s fate. It places the power in the hands of the audience, urging them to reflect on the themes of life, death, revenge, and redemption.

Insights from the Filmmakers

Alejandro González Iñárritu, the director of The Revenant, has commented on the ambiguity of the ending. While he did not offer a definitive answer, he expressed that the ending was designed to evoke reflection and personal interpretation. The goal was to allow viewers to connect with Glass’s journey on a personal level, pondering the profound themes of the human spirit, resilience, and redemption.

Similarly, Leonardo DiCaprio has weighed in on the ending in interviews. He emphasized the importance of personal interpretation, suggesting that the conclusion is open-ended to allow for individual reflections on Glass’s journey and what it signifies.

Drawing from Real Life

It’s worth noting that The Revenant is inspired by true events. The real Hugh Glass was a frontiersman and fur trapper who embarked on a remarkable journey of survival after being mauled by a bear in the 1820s. While the movie takes creative liberties, the essence of Glass’s spirit and determination remains intact.

Historical records suggest that Hugh Glass did indeed survive his injuries and lived on to continue his adventures in the American frontier. This fact further muddies the waters when trying to decipher the ending of the film, as it blends historical fact with cinematic interpretation.

What the Audience Thinks

Since the release of The Revenant, fan theories and discussions have flooded online forums, blogs, and social media platforms. The movie’s ending has spawned countless debates, with viewers sharing their interpretations and piecing together clues from the film.

Some believe that Glass’s survival is symbolic of the human spirit’s ability to endure against all odds. Others argue that the movie’s close serves as a poignant reminder of life’s fleeting nature and the inevitability of death.

In any case, the ambiguity of the ending serves a powerful purpose. It prompts introspection, encourages discussions, and ensures that The Revenant remains a memorable experience long after the credits roll.

Embracing the Ambiguity

While the burning question of Hugh Glass’s fate remains unanswered, perhaps that’s the point. Movies, much like life, aren’t always about neat conclusions and clear-cut answers. Sometimes, they’re about the journey, the feelings they evoke, and the discussions they inspire.

The Revenant achieves this by leaving its ending open to interpretation. Whether you believe Glass survived or succumbed to his injuries, the film’s impact remains undeniable. It’s a gripping tale of survival, vengeance, and the human spirit that will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.

Dream Sequences and Flashbacks

Throughout The Revenant, audiences are treated to a series of dream sequences and flashbacks that revolve around Hugh Glass’s past, particularly focusing on moments with his family and the tragedy he’s faced. These dreamlike visions do more than just provide backstory; they offer a deeper understanding of Glass’s motivations, his resilience, and the possible implications for the movie’s ambiguous ending.

The most recurring motif is that of Glass’s wife and son. Their memories provide solace and motivation for Glass, driving him to survive against insurmountable odds. It’s his attachment to their memory that, in many ways, keeps his spirit alive. By revisiting these moments from his past, viewers get a glimpse into the depth of Glass’s pain, his sense of loss, and the reason behind his relentless determination.

Towards the end of the movie, the intensity and frequency of these sequences increase. As his physical strength wanes, his mental journey intensifies. Some could argue that, as he nears death, the boundary between his past and present, reality and dream, becomes blurred. This blurred line might be indicative of his wavering hold on life.

However, another interpretation could be that these flashbacks and dreams serve as a guiding light, pulling him back from the brink of death. They could signify that, while his body might be giving up, his mind and spirit are still tethered to the world of the living because of his unfulfilled purpose and the memories of his loved ones.

Lessons from The Revenant

At its core, The Revenant is more than just a tale of survival and revenge. It’s a profound exploration of the age-old battle between man and nature. Throughout the movie, the vast and unforgiving landscapes of the American wilderness stand as both a backdrop and an adversary to Hugh Glass’s journey.

Nature, in all its raw and brutal glory, constantly challenges Glass. From the bear attack to the harsh winter conditions, the environment tests his limits. Yet, these challenges do more than just pose physical threats. They also force Glass to confront his own humanity, his vulnerabilities, and his will to live.

Hugh Glass, The Revenant

Glass’s continuous struggle is a stark reminder of humanity’s fragility in the face of nature’s might. But, it also underscores the indomitable spirit of humans, their ability to adapt, endure, and even thrive amidst adversity. Glass’s journey, punctuated by moments of despair and hope, resilience and vulnerability, serves as a metaphor for humanity’s broader relationship with nature.

By the film’s end, one of the key lessons derived is that while man can attempt to conquer nature, it’s a force that demands respect. It can neither be tamed nor fully understood, but it can teach invaluable lessons about the essence of existence, the value of life, and the importance of respecting the world around us.

Cast and Crew Interpretations

Given the debate surrounding the movie’s conclusion, it’s natural to seek insights from those who brought The Revenant to life. Beyond Alejandro González Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio, other key contributors have weighed in with their interpretations.

Tom Hardy, who played John Fitzgerald, has often spoken about the film’s rawness and how it captures the primal essence of survival. While he hasn’t given a definitive stance on Glass’s fate, he emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and death portrayed in the movie.

Domhnall Gleeson, portraying Captain Andrew Henry, mentions the film’s ending as a reflection of the entire journey. To him, it encapsulates the thin line between life and death, hinting at the impermanence of existence.

Behind the scenes, the film’s cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, has praised Iñárritu’s choice to leave the ending open to interpretation. He sees it as a mirror for viewers to reflect on their own beliefs, fears, and hopes.

The collective stance seems to favor personal interpretation over a fixed narrative. This approach, while sometimes frustrating for those wanting clear answers, enriches the film’s impact. It ensures that The Revenant remains not just a visual spectacle but also a deeply introspective experience for each viewer.

Why Does Glass Look at the Camera at the End of The Revenant?

The moment when Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, looks directly into the camera at the end of The Revenant is one of the film’s most talked-about and debated scenes. The direct gaze into the camera is a break from traditional filmmaking norms, and it’s a powerful cinematic technique that can invoke a strong emotional response from the audience. Here are some interpretations and reasons behind this choice:

  • Connection with the Audience: By breaking the fourth wall, Glass establishes a direct connection with the audience. This look can be interpreted as a challenge, a question, or even a plea. It’s as if he’s inviting viewers to reflect on everything they’ve witnessed, to consider the weight of his journey, and perhaps to judge or empathize with him.
  • Introspection: The gaze can also be seen as introspective. After everything he’s been through, Glass might be looking for answers, seeking some form of redemption or understanding, or reconciling with his own mortality. The direct look can symbolize a moment of realization or acceptance.
  • Ambiguity: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu is known for creating films that are open to interpretation. By having Glass look into the camera, he ensures that the film’s conclusion remains ambiguous. It’s a gesture that is open to multiple readings, keeping in line with the movie’s overall theme of interpretative endings.
  • Humanizing Glass: After witnessing Glass’s brutal journey and the inhuman conditions he endures, this direct gaze serves as a poignant reminder of his humanity. It’s a vulnerable moment, one that reminds viewers of the man behind the legend, grounding the tale of epic survival back to a human level.
  • Reflecting Reality: The technique of breaking the fourth wall can sometimes serve as a reminder that what we’re watching is a constructed narrative, a blend of fact and fiction. It’s a nod to the audience, acknowledging the artifice of cinema while also grounding it in the reality that the story is based on true events.