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The Very Specific Reason That The Revenant Is Rated R

"The Revenant" is a brutal and violent film. Based loosely on Michael Punke's 2002 novel of the same name, which itself was inspired by real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass's experiences in 1823, "The Revenant" follows Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he struggles to stay alive after getting attacked by a bear and being left for dead by his fellow men. For his performance in the film, DiCaprio won his first and only Best Actor Academy Award to date, while Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the Best Director Oscar for his work on the film and Emmanuel Lubezki won the Best Cinematography award as well.

Iñárritu and his collaborators went to notoriously great lengths to capture the film's frontier setting and time period as vividly and realistically as possible — resulting in a film that can be truly difficult to watch at times. With all that in mind, it's not much of a surprise that the film is rated R, especially given just how violent and grueling many of the scenes in "The Revenant" are. However, what is surprising is the very specific reason that the film was given its rating by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).

The Revenant's very unique R rating

There are a handful of obvious reasons why "The Revenant" is rated R. There are multiple instances of profanity scattered throughout it (far more than is allowed in a PG-13 film by the MPAA), a sexual assault scene, and a few moments of mild nudity. Those aren't all the reasons that the MPAA gave "The Revenant" an R rating, though. The association also gave the film its rating for "strong frontier combat and violence," which is undoubtedly one of the more specific descriptions of a film's violence ever included in an MPAA rating for a film.

Of course, the MPAA's reasoning isn't unwarranted, as much of the violence in the film is a result of the frontier setting. Indeed, "The Revenant" contains more than its fair share of "frontier combat and violence," including moments where characters are scalped, shot at, mauled by animals, and hanged from trees. There's even a sequence when Leonardo DiCaprio's Hugh Glass cuts open a horse's corpse and sleeps inside it for warmth, in case "The Revenant" didn't already sound brutal enough. That being said, it's hard not to feel like "The Revenant" deserved some kind of award for receiving such a specific and unique R rating.