Where Was The Revenant Filmed?

Alejandro Iñarritu’s The Revenant incorporates a range of spectacular landscapes into its story, making the movie’s locations a crucial element.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass from The Revenant

Alejandro Iñarritu’s acclaimed 2015 neo-Western The Revenant relies on its use of incredible real landscapes to succeed, making the movie’s choice of filming locations central to the project. Famously featuring some of the most grueling scenes of star Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, the movie is set in the American frontier in the early 19th century. Given its place in American history, as well as the content of its story, showing nature at its wildest and most dangerous was a key theme throughout The Revenant, necessitating the use of some incredibly remote and challenging filming locations.

Partially based on a true story, The Revenant tells the story of frontiersman Hugh Glass. Although the film takes some liberties with established fact, it largely follows Glass’ account of being attacked by a bear in the wilderness, being abandoned by his companions, before miraculously surviving the elements and hostile Arikara to exact his revenge on those who left him behind. In order to fully emphasize the scale of Glass’s accomplishment and recapture the feel of the wild frontier., it was necessary for The Revenant to incorporate some of the most stunning yet austere environments to be found anywhere.


Kananaskis Country; Fortress Mountain, Dead Man’s Flats, Drumheller Badlands, Elbow Falls, Mînî Thnî

By far the majority of The Revenant was filmed in Kananaskis Country – an expansive, wild, and mountainous region to the northeast of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Although the movie itself is set in the present-day Dakotas, Kananaskis’ pristine wilderness was deemed the ideal environment for Iñarritu to shoot. However, even though much of the movie was filmed within a single Canadian state, the genuine remoteness of the area made filming a real challenge.

Kananaskis forms the backdrop for many of the movie’s most important scenes. According to Atlas of Wonders, Fitzgerald’s ambush of Henry took place on Fortress mountain, with a helicopter even being used to bomb the slope to set off an avalanche. Dead Man’s Flats provided the ideal location for Fort Kiowa, which was constructed for the movie. The Arikara ambush scene took place on the Bow river in the First Nations settlement of Mînî Thnî, while the region was also used for several prominent establishing shots.

British Columbia

Squamish Valley

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass gets mauled by a bear in The Revenant.

Although most of the action and landscape seen in The Revenant comes from Alberta, perhaps the most important scene in the movie was shot in a different Canadian province. British Columbia, specifically the lush, heavily forested region in the Squamish Valley, is where Iñarritu chose to shoot the bear attack sequence. The scene was widely praised for its terrifying authenticity, and is unquestionably one of the film’s most immersive and violent moments. The fact that DiCaprio reacts organically to the real environment around him only enhances the drama and makes the special effects seem more impressive.


Kootenai Falls

The Revenant waterfall scene

Another crucial and sometimes underestimated aspect of The Revenant is how the movie uses and revolves around water. On multiple occasions, characters are either forced to escape by river or are flung into waterfalls with little hope of survival. Most of these sequences, including the scene in which Glass escapes the Arikara, were shot in Kootenai Falls. Interestingly, The Revenant is not the first time the area has featured on screen, having also been used in the 1994 Meryl Streep movie The River Wild.


Tierra del Fuego

The Revenant final scene

Because The Revenant was shot chronologically, the production was in a race against time to make full use of the wintery conditions in Canada and North America before the weather changed. Unfortunately, at the end of production, the snow began to melt, forcing the team to relocate to South America. As a result, many of the final scenes in The Revenant, including Glass and Fitzgerald’s brutal fight, were shot in Tierra del Fuego, on the southern tip of South America in Argentina.


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