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Michael Mann's spirited film version of James Fenimore Cooper's adventure story.

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A Flawless Achievement

  • Sep 17, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+5
There have been four film versions of James Fenimore Cooper's novel. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the one released in 1936 (starring Randolph Scott, Binnie Barnes, Heather Angel, Henry Wilcoxon, and Bruce Cabot), I enjoyed this version even more. (It is probably unfair to compare and contrast films based on essentially the same material which were produced 56 years apart.) Brilliantly directed by Michael Mann and with a narrative driven by the compelling performance of Daniel Day-Lewis (as Hawkeye), this film examines a series of incidents in 1757 during the French and Indian War in which British forces were opposed by both the French and their Huron allies. Hawkeye was adopted and raised by the Mohicans. When the film begins, only Chingachgook (properly pronounced "Chicago" according to Mark Twain) and his son Uncas are the only Mohicans who remain. They accompany Hawkeye as he attempts to escort the Munro sisters to Fort William Henry where their father commands the British troops, under rigorous attack by the French troops under General Montcalm's command. Later, for reasons which should not be revealed in this brief commentary, Hawkeye and his two Mohican companions again struggle to guide the Munro sisters to safety, by which time a strong mutual attraction has developed between Hawkeye and Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) as well as between Uncas (Eric Schweig) and Alice Munro (Jodhi May). They are pursued by Magua (Wes Studi) and his Huron warriors and then....

Others have their own reasons for admiring this film so much. Here are mine. First, as in Dances with Wolves, Studi portrays a warrior adversary (in this instance a Huron) with exceptional skill. He is the principal cause of the prevailing sense of menace which continues throughout the film. Also, the music score and cinematography complement the narrative development under Michael Mann's crisp and sensitive direction. Also, Day-Lewis provides another masterful performance (as always) as Hawkeye who is fully prepared to cope with almost any crisis. It is impossible not to concentrate on Day-Lewis whenever he is on screen, as is also the case in his most recent film, Gangs of New York. Finally, the cast and crew enable me to become so emotionally involved in the series of incidents that I feel as if I were also trudging through the woods, approaching the beseiged fort at night, then mingling among those within it, and later fleeing from the Hurons until the film's especially powerful climax. How unusual that a film which combines so many qualities of an epic also establishes and then sustains a sense of intimacy with the central characters.

I appreciate the improved image and sound of the DVD version and only wish supplementary material (such as provided, for example, with Dances with Wolves) had been included. Presumably Mann and Day-Lewis have much of value to say about preparing for and then making this great film.

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More The Last of the Mohicans (1992... reviews
review by . April 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye
Seamlessly blending together elements of multiple genres, including historical drama, action, adventure, war epic, and romance, director Michael Mann paints a beautiful and breathtaking picture of the violence, conflict, and romanticism of the American colonial-era frontier in his film The Last of the Mohicans. Utilizing his accumulative knowledge of visual storytelling, which he first obtained during his early years as a television director, Mann takes the adventure film, the genre to which The …
Quick Tip by . September 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Quite a departure from Cooper's original tale, but an epic that manages to improve on the book while giving viewers great action & romance.
review by . May 15, 2009
Based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, "The Last of the Mohicans" takes place during the French and Indian War. There are several battle scenes and a suspenseful chase scene at the end, as well as accurate depictions of colonial life with historical detail, but the most important element of the story is the romance between Hawkeye, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cora, played by Madeleine Stowe. This is by far Lewis's best film yet. He plays Hawkeye with fierce intensity, and the chemistry …
review by . January 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, "The Last of the Mohicans" takes place during the French and Indian War. There are several battle scenes and a suspenseful chase scene at the end, as well as accurate depictions of colonial life with historical detail, but the most important element of the story is the romance between Hawkeye, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cora, played by Madeleine Stowe. This is by far Lewis's best film yet. He plays Hawkeye with fierce intensity, and the chemistry …
review by . October 18, 2005
James Fenimore Cooper's trusty old nineteenth century novel 'The Last of the Mohicans' has provided a surprisingly sound springboard for a film that tries and succeeds in restoring a profound respect for the Native Americans. Yes, it is a story about the Indians and their culture descrated by the arrival of European entrpeneurs and colonists all relating to Hawkeye/Nathaniel Poe (Daniel Day-Lewis), who as a child was taken by the Mohawk tribe and raised by wise Chingachgook (Russell Means) with …
review by . February 23, 2001
From start to finish this DVD is terrific. I bought it even after getting VHS. (My in-depth review can be found by clicking on my name.) In comparison, the DVD if far more superior to the tape, simply for quality. The extra's are great also. (Even the guide screen is awesome!) But two things struck me as odd. Why cut the ending #1? And How come the original release didn't hold all the extra material? It is still wonderful. You could buy the vhs to keep the ending whole, or you can buy the DVD and …
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Details

Director: Michael Mann
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, History, Romance, War
Release Date: 1991
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Michael Mann
DVD Release Date: January 23, 2001
Runtime: 112 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
First to Review

"Absolute Epic"
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