Let’s talk a little about the film’s premise. How does Hugh Glass end up isolated?
This film is based on the true story of Hugh Glass as he leads this fur trapping unit through the wilderness, or rather its remaining survivors, because a Native American tribe, the Arikara, attacked their base camp and killed many of its members. Along the way, he went out scouting and came across two bear cubs, and ends up mauled by a fully-grown mother grizzly bear. Nearly dead, he becomes isolated from his group.
The “bear sequence” has come up in a few conversations as being an incredible sequence.
This scene is one of the most incredible cinematic experiences I think audiences will ever have. It was a difficult and arduous sequence to put together, but it ended up profoundly moving, because of Alejandro’s ability to put the audience in the middle of the scene. They will see it as if they are a fly buzzing around the attack. They will practically feel the breath of the bear. It’s almost like another sense is awakened, fully immersed in this moment. It really takes your breath away. I think that what he achieved is beyond anything that I’ve seen in movie history really.
Do you think this is a political film? Whether overtly or not, it does appear to touch on a lot of issues about commerce and the environment.
I think those elements are there. Personally, I’d love to find a film about the environment that’s even more literal. To me, this is done for the poetry of it. This is done through the idea of what happens when we have gone into untouched territory, and try to manipulate that environment. And that’s what is still systematically happening all over the world. Oil companies go into Papua New Guinea or the Amazon or Canada, and kick the native indigenous people off of their lands, or poison their lands and cut down their trees. This is an age-old story, and to me, this film is set at the beginning of that in the history of America. This is the first time that we’ve gone to these territories and started to extract things for capitalistic reasons. So, yes, there is that theme embedded underneath the film. I don’t think it’s overt, and it’s hopefully something that people can pick up in the way the story is told.