‘The Revenant’s’ Bear Scene Required Watching 100 Bear Attacks To Make It Look Real

'The Revenant' Bear Leonardo Dicaprio

The Revenant‘s bear scene is intense, and not just for viewers. Creating The Revenant‘s bear attack scene was an exercise in filmmaking for director Alejandro Iñarritu. In order to bring realism to Leonardo DiCaprio’s surreal encounter with a mother bear, the director had to study how that would have gone in real life.

Leonardo DiCaprio can’t give specifics about what it took to make the scene look so real, but he did say that Iñarritu became a student in bear attacks for a while. Even from the trailer clip you can see The Revenant is no joke. DiCaprio, not just the bear, had to put in acting effort to make the scene work.

DiCaprio told ABC News what was required for the shocking on-screen outcome.

​”I’m not at real liberty to speak to you about exactly how [the director] pulled this off. So much of the director’s technique is something that he wants to keep to himself because he loves the idea of audiences submerging themselves in something that is almost like virtual reality. But I will say that it involved months of rehearsal and it involved him watching 100 different bear attacks.”

He doesn’t say whether he personally witnessed bear attacks in some kind of Hollywood-constructed gladiator ring, or if he studied them from the comfort of YouTube. The only thing that comes close to this is what is shown in Sean Connery’s movie, The Edge. In that movie a bear attack scene also occurs, but by an actual trained bear.

Bart the Bear was a bear that worked in a number of other Hollywood films outside of The Edge. But he died just a few years after that film was released. There is another bear in Hollywood using a similar name, but the two are not related. The Revenant‘s producers haven’t revealed if what is seen is a live bear or some kind of terrifying forest puppet.

Earlier this month, the movie already ran into controversy for the portrayal, with media outlets saying The Revenant‘s bear scene was a rape scene. 20th Century Fox already issued a statement to squash those ludicrous rumors before the film’s Christmas release.

Inarritu laughed at the claims, pointing to media hype as the cause, with the internet to blame. The director shared his reaction with the L.A. Times.

“I find it hilarious, and pathetic in a way. You have one guy in a garage inventing something that’s then shared by somebody else. And then a newspaper acknowledges it as news, and then it triggers papers around the world. What’s unbelievable is the validation. When I first saw it I thought it was a joke. But then it gets validation, and the studio actually has to release a statement that there was no bear rape. It’s like a crazy mad comedy.”

That’s how the internet works these days. In the modern moment, no one has time to verify facts. And many times a shocking fiction is more likely to catch fire on various web channels than a fact. Despite the unexpected response to some innovative filmmaking, Iñarritu isn’t revealing the smallest detail of what unique methods were used to create this scene in The Revenant.

Iñarritu’s last film, last year’s Birdman, won him an armful of Oscars. The Revenant is his latest film, and even just the preview footage shows a visually rich film full of intensity. It’s a true story, and The Revenant‘s bear scene is just one of many truths brought to screen about the life of early explorer Hugh Glass. The film sees a limited Christmas Day release, before a wider opening on January 8.

[Image via 20th Century Fox]