Abbe Faria (Richard Harris) : “Here is your final lesson – do not commit
the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”
Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel): “I don’t believe in God.”
Abbe Faria: “It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.”
As Bass’s companions prepare to move on, a Native scout says some
Last Rites (?) or a Blessing (?) over Bass – then places a talisman (?)
around his neck.
But let’s take a closer look at that Talisman …
Is that a Cross?
When Bass is ultimately deserted by this comrades
the only thing they leave him is …
… A Bible.
The Arikara (“Rees”) Indians find Bass in his grave.
He receives more Last Rites/Blessings – Native style.
Then … miraculously, Bass eventually Rises from the/his grave …
from the dead.
Bass later discovers an uncommon use for the Bible …
It’s makes good kindling – to light his first fire.
Meanwhile … Captain Ahab – I mean Captain Henry –
paces the Deck by night …
… while his men grumble about mutiny below deck
– I mean around the campfire.
Where have we seen this before?
And that scar …
Where might we have seen that before?
Just a coincidence, I’m sure.
While recuperating, Bass reads the Bible to a friend.
A time for healing, Spiritual Contemplation … and resolution.
He reads aloud these 2 passages:
“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
– Job 14:14
“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground …”
– Job 14:7 -9
Grace’s Mother: (Man in the Wilderness):
“There was nothing you could do.
It was God’s will.” Zachary Bass (Hugh Glass):
“I never much agreed with God’s will.”
The Ark of Zachariah
I haven’t seen all of John Huston’s movies. Among those few that I have seen though, I detect a strong undercurrent of what I would call Christian Mysticism. And there’s plenty of it in Man in the Wilderness.
In the very first image of the very first scene in Man in the Wilderness, we see this:
Any way you look at it, that’s a Cross – a Crucifix. THE Christian symbol.
What’s the next thing we see?
– That the Cross is the mast of a small boat.
A rather odd looking boat.
Or is it?
Let’s take a closer look:
That odd boat (call me crazy) is a miniature version of Noah’s Ark.
The only thing missing is the animals.
Next comes the Title and the Credits:
The credits say that the movie is “historically true”
and it’s obviously based upon the true story of Hugh Glass.
So why did they change his name to “Zachary Bass“?
Maybe we’ve seen the name Zacharysomewhere before … ?
Maybe right here:
The Unforgiven (1960)
Directed by John Huston !
With a whole pile of Zarchays (5 actually).
and accompanied by a mad prophet on horseback spouting Biblical style quotes.
Call me Zachary?
Zachariah– Old Testament Hebrew: means ‘The *LORD remembers’.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah taught people that God remembers his promises.
Like from a movie called ‘The Bible: In the Beginning ..’
Directed by John Huston who also acted the part (wait for it) NOAH!
“I don’t believe God is dead. Just drunk.”- John Huston
Sung by Richard Harris / written by Jim Webb
(A curious analogy: – not knowing the origins of Webb’s controversial lyrics greatly affect some people’s appreciation of this song – or whether you can even appreciate it at all. But I won’t get into that here …)
A Large Elephant
At the outset, I do wonder if this film – though interesting and enjoyable – is really worth such of any such in-depth analysis? It’s not an epic of Oscar proportions. And it’s obviously possible to watch Man in the Wilderness and enjoy it without pondering any of the musings that I am about to attempt. However, that never stopped me before.
I have just re-watched Man in the Wilderness – for the first time in many years. I had been disinclined to watch it again at all since I recalled my first viewing – back in 1971 – was a disappointment. But I was a young fool of 23 back then – and may have been impaired in some manner. Now however, I am much more handsome and have risen in brilliance (cough). Not that I wouldn’t trade for a second.
Anyway, I now find the film to be a much different experience than it was on my first ride. And I see several points of interest that I had not noticed before. I hope you’ll agree.
Firstly, despiteRichard Harris’ capably and worthy Star Power in the film, John Huston presence in this movie is huge – a VERY LARGE elephant in the room — though he did not Direct (Richard C. Sarafian, Director) – his stamp and shadow loom all over the movie. And it’s damn certain that Huston would not consent to any project that didn’t suit him somehow. All his dues had been paid – and then-some.
A brief Bio sketch of Huston becomes necessary:
At the making of the film Huston was already legendary in the Film trade/Arts – having been voted 10 times for Oscars, won Oscars for Directing, Screenwriting and Acting. Many of his films are classics: (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The African Queen (1951) (both with Bogart), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), Moby Dick (1956), The Unforgiven (1960), The Misfits (1961), Freud (1962), The Night of the Iguana (1964). The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966). Fat City (1972), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Wise Blood (1979), Under the Volcano (1984), Prizzi’s Honor (1985).
Just about all of Huston‘s movies are a required study for any entering the film trade. Very few people have a legacy such as this.
Hustonwas raised of rugged, but cultured parents – participated in Vaudevillian circles – was Amateur Lightweight Boxing Championship of California – later in “Mexico became an officer in the cavalry and expert horseman while writing plays on the sly” – later studied Art in Paris, where the sometimes “homeless beggar” continued writing. – returned to America to pay more dues on Broadway – and eventually his first loud flash of fame as screenwriter and director for the Dashiell Hammett mystery yarn The Maltese Falcon (1941). (This movie classic made a superstar out of Humphrey Bogart) – Bio info gleaned from on Intermet Movie Database / IMDB)
Son of actor Walter Huston, whom he directed in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
Son Tony Huston appeared with him in The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).
Appeared with daughter Anjelica Huston in A Walk with Love and Death (1969).
He is the only person to have ever directed a parent (Walter Huston) and a child (Anjelica Huston) to Academy Award wins.
Hustonwas a licenced pilot.
Directed 15 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Sydney Greenstreet, Walter Huston, Claire Trevor, Sam Jaffe, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, José Ferrer, Colette Marchand, Deborah Kerr,Grayson Hall, Susan Tyrrell, Albert Finney, Anjelica Huston, Jack Nicholson and William Hickey. Bogart and Trevor won Oscars for their performances, as did Huston’s father Walter Huston and daughter Anjelica Huston
He and his father Walter Huston are the first Oscar-winning father-son couple. They are also the first father-son couple to be Oscar-nominated the same year (1941) and the first to win the same year (1949).
Was known to have a mean streak when handling actors, and reportedly irritated John Wayne (who was slightly taller than Huston and much more massive) so much while filming The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) that Wayne lost his temper and punched Huston, knocking him out cold.
Three generations of Oscar winners in the Huston family: John, his father Walter Huston and his daughter Anjelica Huston.
His WW II documentary Let There Be Light (1946) was one of the first, if not the first, films to deal with the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder of soldiers returning from the war. Huston actually said that, “If I ever do a movie that glorifies war, somebody shoot me.” This documentary was based on his front-line experiences covering the European war and what he saw soldiers go through during and returning from the war.
Is one of the few people to receive at least one Oscar nomination in five consecutive decades (1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s).
Honored on a US Postage Stamp in May 2012.
He directed his daughter Anjelica Huston in five films: Casino Royale (1967), A Walk with Love and Death (1969), Sinful Davey (1969), Prizzi’s Honor (1985) and The Dead (1987).
Directed both Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn. (Last names aside, if you don’t know why this is notable, please go to another blog.)
Disgusted by the Hollywood blacklisting, Huston was an ardent supporter of human rights and he, along with director William Wyler and others, dared to form the Committee for the First Amendment in 1947, which strove to undermine the House Un-American Activities Committee.
That is a very LARGE ELEPHANT. More like a whale.
Often labelled as massively eccentric, Huston was his own man – and there is much more that could be written on him here. I don’t think any BioPic could do Huston justice – though Clint Eastwood attempted a snapshot of his character in White Hunter Black Heart (1990). Maybe a long Mini-Series? But even then …
Strangely, Huston is revealed as strongly religious – and we see plenty of evidence in his films. Most obviously, of course, in The Bible: In the Beginning.. (1966).
But this is also revealed in Man in the Wilderness. As you’ll see.
In short, I’d guess that Hustonrelated strongly with Hugh Glass‘ (Man in the Wilderness) – his character and courage.
On the surface Man in the Wilderness appears to be the true epic tale of frontiersman Hugh Glass‘ unfortunate encounter with a Grizzly Bear – and his struggle to survive and seek revenge against those that left him for dead.
But is it?
There could be more to this grizzly tale than meets the eye at first glance …
Man in the Wilderness … Part 2: Beneath the waves …
Rev·e·nant – a person who has returned, especially from the dead.
“In the 1820s, a frontiersman, Hugh Glass, sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.”
Tim (Tim Neath – Visual Artist https://timneath.wordpress.com/about-me/) was commenting that the upcoming film: “The Revenant”, is a remake of the 1971 film “Man in the Wilderness”which starredRichard Harris and John Huston. We were both puzzled at the lack of acknowledgement about this ?
Looking at things a little closer, however, I see that the book “The Revenant” was written by Michael Punke and released in 2002. While “Man in the Wilderness” was a screenplay / script written by Jack DeWitt about 1970 – a novel was later released, named after the movie. In any event, it’s the same story – by different authors.
Above: The (blue) script for Man in the Wilderness (1971). A biopic loosely based on the life of American frontiersman Hugh Glass (1780-1833). I’m guessing it follows the factual events of Glass’s adventures more closely than The Revenant, but the theme of being a revenge movie seems accurate. In real life Glass didn’t follow through on his vengeance – after he confronted the men and accepted their reasons for abandoning him. In Man in the Wilderness, Glass’s name is changed toZachary Bass (not sure why?) and played by Richard Harris. Captain Henry is the antagonist played by John Huston, as the leader of the expedition members who deserted him.
Though shot on location in Spain in the 1970’s, Man in the Wilderness has no feel of being a Spaghetti Western and I don’t personally qualify it as such. Others may differ.
Nor would you guess that the locations in the movie are anything other that the Appalachians or Adirondack’s of the Eastern US. The terrain seems amazingly similar/authentic.
Strangely enough, The Revenant is also shot outside of the US – in Alberta and Argentina. ??
Hugh Glass – A Short Bio
What can we say? Hugh Glass seems to have been a hell of a man.
Wikipedia: “Despite his injuries, Glass regained consciousness, but found himself abandoned, without weapons or equipment. He had festering wounds, a broken leg, and cuts on his back that exposed bare ribs. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 miles (320 km) from the nearest American settlement at Fort Kiowa on the Missouri. Glass set his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling. To prevent gangrene, Glass laid his wounded back on a rotting log and let maggots eat the dead flesh …”
Hugh Glass – Sketch by the great Western Artist, Charles M. Russell