Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 17, 1891 when Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon dedicated St. Bernard Church, Enfield.
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movie revenant20151231T0834 1287 CNS 800Leonardo DiCaprio stars in a scene from the movie "The Revenant." (CNS photo/Fox)

NEW YORK (CNS) –  If your idea of entertainment is watching Leonardo DiCaprio gorge on the raw liver of a freshly killed buffalo, then "The Revenant" (Fox) is for you.

This wilderness survival drama, directed and co-written by Alejandro Inarritu ("Birdman"), is chock full of squeamish moments. But for adults with stomachs strong enough to last the duration, rewards await: a powerful film with first-rate performances, stunning cinematography and timely messages about good versus evil, and of redemption versus revenge.

DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass, a real-life explorer and fur trader. In 1823, Glass joined an expedition up the Missouri River, led by Capt. Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson).

In what is present-day South Dakota (but filmed in Canada and Argentina), the company of men traps beavers for their prized pelts while enduring the ravages of winter and frequent raids by Native Americans.

Glass sympathizes with the latter, as he married a Pawnee woman (Grace Dove), who was killed by a U.S. soldier. Their mixed-race son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), is a member of the expedition.

Disaster strikes when Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear, an especially grisly scene. Barely alive and unable to move or speak, he must remain behind while the others go for help. Three volunteers agree to stay with him: John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a trigger-happy hunter; Jim Bridger (Will Poulter), a wide-eyed innocent guide; and Hawk.

Capt. Henry's instructions are clear: care for Glass, but should he succumb, provide a decent burial.

Fitzgerald seethes with impatience, as Glass' accident has set back his lucrative hunting plans. So he decides to smother Glass to put an end to his misery, and allow the others to move on.

Hawk intervenes to stop the murder, but is killed by Fitzgerald, who proceeds to toss the still-alive Glass into a shallow grave, to Bridger's horror. The two men then depart, leaving Glass for dead.

Or so they think.

Glass refuses to succumb, crawls out of the grave, and embarks on a 200-mile odyssey through vast uncharted lands to avenge his son's murder and bring Fitzgerald to justice.

As such, he becomes a "revenant," or one returned from the dead.

Glass' reappearance made newspaper headlines at the time, but the details of his story were sketchy, to say the least. Inarritu based his screenplay on the 2002 book "The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge" by Michael Punke, but admitted embellishing the story for dramatic purposes.

Along the way, Glass is assisted and befriended by a lone Pawnee, Hikuc (Arthur Redcloud). His family was also killed by the "white man," but he offers measured advice.

"Revenge is in the Creator's hands, not man's," he tells Glass.

Indeed, since seeking revenge is contrary to Christian teaching, we correctly leave the final judgment to God. Whether Glass takes this advice remains to be seen.
The film contains bloody violence and gore, several disturbing images, a sexual assault, brief nudity, and frequent rough, crude, and profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Mr. McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.