The reason John Bindon has next to no screentime in the film, is because the producers had him fired in the early stages of shooting, after he and Sir Richard Harris had a fight. His lines were given to other actors.
The scenes with the nurse had to be re-shot, because the producers thought the sets were not up to standard. The original actress who played the nurse was unable to make the new dates for the re-shoot, so the role was re-cast.
This movie often gets mistaken for a sequel to A Man Called Horse (1970). This is due to Sir Richard Harris starring in both films within a year of one another, and both films are similarly about men suffering and overcoming such tribulations in harsh environments.
Zachary Bass, who is based on real-life mountain man Hugh Glass, is shown to have had a wife and son in this movie. Yet, there's no record of the noted historical figure ever being married and having any children. Similarly, in The Revenant (2015), Hugh Glass, who is also based on the noted historical figure of the same name, was shown to have had a wife and son as well.
Captain Henry (John Huston) often gets compared to Captain Ahab from "Moby Dick", due to similarities in terms of their wardrobe and obsessive personalities. Huston had directed and produced Moby Dick (1956).
This film was mostly shot in Covaleda, Soria, Spain, which was one of the main preferred locations to shoot spaghetti westerns. Though, it's been said that this film is not technically a spaghetti western, due to its more philosophical and spiritual nature, and it wasn't produced by an Italian.
The main reason why some of the names and the events were altered in this movie, was due to the filmmakers wanting to avoid paying rights fees to Frederick Manfred, whose 1954 novel, "Lord Grizzly", which is based on Hugh Glass' ordeal and journey, was a strong inspiration for the film. Manfred has stated that the film was not what he envisioned. He was so appalled by the lack of credit, that he threatened to sue the producers. They ended up settling out of court.
On Christmas Day 1971, this movie was the first film shown in years at the historic Princess Theater, that was re-opened after several years of vacancy. Due to Towne Cinema Limited buying it out, the theater was renamed the Klondike Theater at the time, before eventually changing it back to its original moniker years later. The film was a "family friendly" feature attraction for the theater before it went into a more "seedy" direction, in terms of showing strictly adult mainstream films within the next year.
Due to the success of The Revenant (2015), which sparked a growing interest for this film, Warner Brothers released this movie on Blu-ray on August 16, 2016, as part of their Warner Archive Collection.
This film was released in the re-opened Princess Theater (named Klondike Theater at the time) a few weeks after its theatrical release on Christmas Day 1971. The Revenant (2015), was released on Christmas Day 2015 in limited release, a few weeks before its theatrical release.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Although based on true events, the film has taken many liberties. One of biggest ones is changing the names of the historical figures portrayed in this film. Hugh Glass was changed to Zach Bass, mainly for legal reasons. While the Captain Henry character largely retains his name, the characters of Fogarty and Lowrie are representative stand-ins for John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger, respectively. Nonetheless, this film puts Henry more into the position of John Fitzgerald, than Fogarty. Also, even though Lowrie dies in this film, his real-life counterpart, Jim Bridger, inspired by Hugh Glass and his ordeal, went on to become a respected trapper and frontiersman in his own right. This movie was BASED on a true story. It was never declared to BE a true story.
Like The Revenant (2015), the plot is inspired by true events, but often strays from the historical truth, which is why the film was never declared to BE a true story. Zachary Bass is based on real-life fur trapper, Hugh Glass, who was in fact attacked by a bear and left for dead out in the wilderness by his two fellow trappers. After setting his broken leg, Glass spent six weeks crawling two hundred miles and didn't get to his feet until the end of his journey.
In the script, the ending was quite different. Originally, the ending involved Henry begging for mercy when Bass approaches him with the intention of carrying out his revenge. Bass tells him, "Settle the matter with your God. I've found mine." Instead, it ended up being as to where Bass approaches Henry to retrieve his gun and simply walks away without any threat of violence. It was never determined at what point when the ending was changed.
The Bible passages that Zach reads to his animal companion are from the Book of Job. He doesn't read the verses in chronological order, yet he reads them within the same chapter. Job 14:14, he reads: "If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." He then reads, Job 14:7-8: "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..." These passages serve as a testament as to how one can be underestimated when it comes to his or her resilience and will to live when death is on the horizon. This notion signifies Zach Bass' shear will to survive and his spiritual rebirth.
Though both films are technologically shot and rendered in different formats, this film and The Revenant (2015) have some similar cinematographic techniques. These include the uses of low angles, canted/Dutch Tilt angles, extreme long shots, handheld shots, and worm's eye view shots. Despite the differing tones, these techniques were used to give each film a visceral, mysterious, abstract, and disoriented feel to express the main character's struggle for survival.
Though not technically a Christian movie, this film has many Christian and religious themes, including the concern of atheism and blasphemy. The main character in particular is shown to be at odds with God and religion in general. Yet, eventually starts to transform spiritually as he truly gets acquainted with Him in the midst of his harrowing journey within Mother Nature.