Seeing 'The Revenant'? It's based on a true story from South Dakota


"The Revenant" comes out in wide release Friday – that movie starring a bearded, dirt-stained and bloody Leonardo DiCaprio looking intense out in the wilderness.

And the true life events it depicts actually happened in our neighboring state of South Dakota.

(Editor's note: No spoilers for the film outside the plot point that kicks off the movie. But if you want to go in knowing absolutely nothing, stop reading here.)

The plot?

DiCaprio's character gets brutally attacked by a grizzly bear in the wilderness, somehow doesn't die, and then has to make his way back to society.

It's based on the true story of Hugh Glass.

And what is that true story? Well, as told by Enyclopedia Britannica:

Glass joined a fur-trading expedition out of St. Louis in March of 1823.

In August, they'd made it to South Dakota, near where present-day city of Lemmon is, right on the border with North Dakota.

While scouting, Glass was attacked by a grizzly bear – suffering a broken leg, ripped scalp, punctured throat, and numerous gashes, but surviving.

His team thought he was mortally wounded, so two men stayed behind to stay with Glass until he died. But days later, Glass was still breathing. Thinking there was no way Glass would recover, the two men put Glass in a shallow Grave, took his weapon and supplies, and left.

But Glass didn't die, and regained enough strength to begin a journey toward Fort Kiowa (present-day Chamberlain, South Dakota), more than 200 miles away.

That's just the beginning of course – there's more that happens during and after the trek.

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But just how accurate is the movie?

The International Business Times listed eight points from the real-life story for comparisons' sake (so again, spoilers in that link). HistoryNet also looks at "the truth behind 'The Revenant' legend."

Time meanwhile wrote about the book that first chronicled Glass' journey, called "The Oregon Trail." Published in 1939 as part of the New Deal-era Federal Writers’ Project, Time reviewed the book when it came out and called Glass "the angriest man in U.S. history."

As for the movie? It's getting mostly positive review on Metacritic with an aggregate of 77/100 overall; and it's 81 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

In addition to DiCaprio, it stars Domhnall Gleeson, Tom Hardy and others. It's directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won a Best Picture and Best Directing Oscar for "Birdman" last year.

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