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From what I’d read, it seemed as if The Revenant was just another Western revenge movie, of which there are Legion, including The Hateful Eight, the newest film by Quentin Tarantino. How those reviews and articles missed that most basic part of the story is beyond me, but The Revenant is one of the most Catholic and sacramental films I’ve seen in a long time.The main character, Hugh Glass (Leonardo Dicaprio), suffers more than any movie character that I can remember. He’s mauled by a grizzly bear in one of the most horrific scenes I’ve ever squirmed through. As he lays dying, he watches his son murdered at the hand of his antagonist, John Fitzgerald (disappearing into the role, Tom Hardy).
Glass crawls from the shallow grave where he’s been left for dead to cross the frozen Montana landscape, battling a near fatal infection.
He’s then shot, thrown over cliffs, and desperate for warmth, sleeps in a disemboweled horse.Why? For half of the movie, we believe it’s good old ordinary revenge, the desire to kill Fitzgerald for the murder of his son.

Further, Inarritu seems to enforce this idea by showing us scenes of nature, “red in tooth and claw.”But in the visions Glass has of his dead son and wife, Inarritu shows us that nature isn’t just brutal, it’s also beautiful. Even in death, Inarritu shows us that resurrection and life can come.This is the beauty of the film, as it turns on its head the accepted trope that when we confront the supposed brutality of nature, we somehow see “reality,” and any  possible deeper meaning is a figment of human imagination. As he walks through the church, he looks up to see an Icon of Christ Crucified (we only see the nails in the feet), the ultimate picture of redemptive suffering.
His son appears and embraces him, planting a lesson that will come to fruition.Finally, Glass tracks down Fitzgerald and they have a raw, bloody fight near a creek. The villain taunts him, telling Glass that he’s come all this way just to kill him and that it won’t bring his son back.
Glass looks up and sees something startling (I won’t give it away) that brings to mind his vision in the old abandoned church. That worldview has produced a stunning piece of art and film.Modern Catholics have shied away from a theology of suffering as an almost embarrassing relic of the past.

The suffering of Christ tells us that God has indeed become fully human; he suffered and does suffer, just like us. But we’re doing the world a fatal disservice by not helping humans to understand the nature of suffering and how it can lead to redemption. Jonathan currently lives near Notre Dame where he works as an editor for Ave Maria Press.Subscribe by email to Sick Pilgrim Follow Sick Pilgrim!Popular at Patheos Catholic Disturbed by the Presidential Election?

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