Summary: In the movie “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character eats a raw bison liver in a particularly gruesome scene. However, this was not just an on-screen moment, as DiCaprio actually consumed a piece of real bison liver to make the scene more authentic and intense. This act sparked both controversy and admiration from audiences, but what led up to this decision and what were the consequences?
1. Understanding the Scene
The scene in which DiCaprio eats the bison liver is a critical moment in “The Revenant.” His character, Hugh Glass, has been brutally attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his companions. To survive, he needs to heal quickly and gain strength even though he can hardly walk. When he comes across a dead bison, he decides to slice open its belly and crawl inside it to stay warm, but before that, he rips out a piece of its liver and eats it raw.
The film’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, wanted the scene to be as authentic as possible to showcase the harsh realities of survival in the 1800s. He instructed DiCaprio to eat a real piece of bison liver rather than a prop. Understandably, DiCaprio was initially hesitant about the idea, but he ultimately agreed because he believed it would enhance the realism of the scene and his performance.
The shooting of the scene was incredibly difficult for DiCaprio and the crew. The liver had been stored under hot studio lights for hours and was rank with a foul smell that made everyone nauseous. Furthermore, the weather outside was freezing, and the river in which DiCaprio soaks himself was icy. Despite all these challenges, the scene was successfully filmed and remains one of the most memorable moments in “The Revenant.”
2. The Controversy
Not everyone was pleased with DiCaprio’s decision to eat real bison liver. Some animal rights activists criticized him for promoting the consumption of meat and encouraging the use of animal body parts for entertainment. However, DiCaprio reassured them that the liver he ate was a byproduct of a bison that was already dead and that no animals were harmed specifically for the film.
Other critics felt that the scene was unnecessary, graphic, and gratuitous. They argued that the sight of DiCaprio eating raw liver did not add much to the story and was only included for shock value. Iñárritu defended his choice, saying that the scene was meant to show the lengths to which Glass had to go to survive in the wilderness and that it was supported by historical accounts of similar experiences.
The controversy surrounding the bison liver scene did not affect the success of “The Revenant” at the box office or in awards ceremonies. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for DiCaprio, who many felt deserved the recognition for his grueling performance.
3. The Physical and Emotional Toll
Eating raw bison liver was not an easy task for DiCaprio, both physically and emotionally. His body wasn’t used to such a sudden intake of raw meat, which caused him to feel sick and throw up multiple times after filming the scene. The liver was also extremely tough and had a strong metallic taste that stayed in his mouth for hours. However, DiCaprio persevered and used his discomfort to fuel his acting, making the scene all the more realistic.
Furthermore, the act of consuming raw liver carried some risk of food poisoning or other health problems. Raw liver can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause illnesses such as E. coli or tapeworm infections. The studio made sure to provide DiCaprio with a fresh and safe piece of liver that had been handled and cooked by professionals, but the risk was still present.
Emotionally, the liver-eating scene took a toll on DiCaprio as well. He had to summon his inner strength and primal instincts to play a character who was pushed to the brink and beyond. The scene required him to abandon all sense of civilized behavior and embrace the rawness and brutality of survival in the wild. It was a challenging and transformative experience for him as an actor.
4. The Legacy and Impact
The bison liver scene in “The Revenant” will go down in history as one of the most intense and memorable moments in cinema. It showcased DiCaprio’s commitment to his craft and ultimately helped him earn his first Oscar win after five nominations.
In addition, the scene raised awareness about the plight of bison and other animals that were hunted and killed in large numbers in the 19th century. By including a real piece of bison liver in the film, Iñárritu drew attention to the harsh realities of hunting and skinning animals for profit and sport while also acknowledging the important role that bison played in the history of the American West.
Moreover, by showing a Hollywood star consuming raw meat and pushing his physical and emotional limits, the scene challenged conventional notions of masculinity and toughness. It became a symbol of primal power and endurance that resonated with audiences worldwide.
Eating raw bison liver was a daring and controversial move by Leonardo DiCaprio, but it paid off in the form of an unforgettable scene and a Best Actor Oscar. Though some criticized the scene for being too graphic or exploitative, it brought attention to the harsh realities of life in the 1800s and the power of the human spirit to endure. By consuming a real piece of bison liver, DiCaprio showed his commitment to his craft and helped make “The Revenant” a landmark film.