Prominent Quebec actor Roy Dupuis, who turned down a role in The Revenant, is criticizing the Oscar-nominated film for its "disappointing and shocking" depiction of French-Canadian fur traders.
"The only French-Canadian characters in the film, the coureur des bois, are, in my opinion, the most reviled characters in the film," he told Radio-Canada's Alain Gravel Tuesday morning.
- AS IT HAPPENS: Actor Roy Dupuis slams 'The Revenant' for portrayal of French-Canadians
- Smudging, sweat lodges and cultural accuracy: On set of The Revenant
- OPINION | The Revenant is not an indigenous story
- Leonardo DiCaprio's shout out to First Nations cause for introspection
The film is a quasi-historical drama depicting the perilous journey made by 19th-century American fur trapper Hugh Glass. It follows Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, as he seeks revenge against those who left him to die after he was mauled by a bear.
A group of unscrupulous and violent French-Canadian trappers appears several times in the film, framed as raping, murderous villains in the brutal frontier tale.
'People will say, 'That's just the movies,' but it's still a historical film, and often it's cinema that rewrites the story,' - Quebec actor Roy Dupuis
"I find it disappointing and shocking because it's really contrary to the reality of the vast majority of French-Canadian fur traders of the time," said Dupuis.
"It was really men who embraced the indigenous culture, who learned their language, who married into the culture and had families."
The Revenant is nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.
Striving for historical accuracy, the filmmakers hired consultants to weigh in on everything from the costumes to the sport of tomahawk-throwing to the naming of indigenous characters.
Dupuis – who fronted the recently released documentary L'Empreinte, which examines the roots of Quebecois culture – said the influence of indigenous cultures on the French-Canadian identity is significant. That shared historical experience isn't present in the film, he said.
The actor acknowledged he is not a historian and admits the relationship between the early French Canadians and First Nations was not always one of peace and respect.
"But what I find disappointing is that the only French-Canadian characters in the film are villains, and this film is going to be seen by a lot of people," he said.
"Sure, people will say, 'That's just the movies,' but it's still a historical film, and often it's cinema that rewrites the story."