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TygerTyger
September 12th, 2008, 03:39 AM
I loved this film when it was released in 1992 so when I saw it for sale for only £5 I snapped it up! I also hated this film when I last saw it, a fact that I was reminded of when I watched the dvd last night.

Let me explain, The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favourite novels from American Literature. Cooperís treatment of the Delaware Indians is no different to that of the European characters, a feature that was to change when Hollywood got hold of the Cowboy and Indians genre. They are human characters capable of feats of courage, intelligence and love, as well as mean spirited, treacherous and vindictive; just like the rest of us!

Michael Mann succeeded in capturing the epic landscape of the novel and added the superbly emotive music that is a classic of movie soundtracks. He paid considerable attention to the dress and actions, particularly military, of the characters, leading to claims of historical accuracy when the film was released, but he failed in almost every other respect.

Day-Lewisí interpretation of Hawkeye bears no comparison to the book. I can understand the lure of cinematic imagery and I know more than one female heart beat faster at the sight of Day-Lewis in hot pursuit of his love across battlefields and equally gorgeous landscapes of wild America, but where was Nathanielís humour, where was his philosophical observations, where was his stoic acceptance of life in the wilderness? Itís a pity that Mann had to replace these admirable qualities with an unaccountable belligerence against the British, all of which comes from the character of Hawkeye in the film and simply is not present in the novel!

I can also understand the creation of the love interest between Hawkeye and the redoubtable Cora, it makes cinematic sense, but thereís no hint of it in Cooperís original.

Hawkeye is not the only character to suffer, however, poor Major Duncan Heyward loses all of his attractive attributes to become a caricature of Mannís interpretation of British rule in the colonies, false, a liar and a tyrant. Oh dear, where is the brave youth who risks his life many times over, not only for the Munro sisters but also the Mohicans and the lesser characters that were cut from the script? Cooperís Heyward represents everything that is good and noble in the European, he even earns Hawkeyeís grudging respect. What a loss to the movie that character is.

Perhaps the worst literary crime the Mann commits is his reduction of the two principal characters from the book, Chingachgook and Uncas, to mere supporting roles. The Sagemore, the last elder of his tribe, is a truly fascinating character who persists in living with a vitality that would shame younger men. His enemies rightly fear and respect him, his friends stand in awe of him and his dignity is maintained without compromise. How must it have felt for such a man to stride across the landscape of those times knowing that you were the last of your people? Donít ask Mann, he didnít stop to consider the question!

For Cooper Uncas represented the pinnacle of the Delawares, physically perfect, respectful of his elders, wise in the ways of nature, a brave warrior, loyal friend and courageous enemy. What a shame that Eric Schweig looked every inch the embodiment of Cooperís Uncas because Mann seems to have been loathe to give him anything meaningful to say Ė just stand there and look beautiful!

There is one character who did seem to survive Mannís hatchet job, the arch villain Magua superbly performed by Wes Studi. He isnít complete of course, but he is clever, vindictive, resourceful and dangerous. Unfortunately Mann seems convinced that Indians donít need much in the way of meaningful dialogue, unlike Cooper. This is a shame because in the novel Magua is not a simple villain, he has motives, he has cause, he has plans for a future life, all of which is only hinted at in the movie. In the book Magua becomes darker as the Mohicans consistently thwart his plans so that at the climax even his own people disown him.

Although it looked cinematically impressive Magua did not kill Uncas in a fair fight standing toe to toe, in fact the suggestion is that Magua feared Uncas and so when the opportunity presented itself he stabbed the Mohican in the back. This act is indicative of the low point that Magua has descended to as his hatred consumes him.

So, was buying the dvd £5 wasted or well spent? As a cinematic interpretation of James Fenimore Cooperís classic it is dire. As a popular film it is thoroughly enjoyable with beautiful scenery and that moving soundtrack, an adventurous romp through a moment in history.

WokeUpDead
September 12th, 2008, 04:00 PM
The first half was boring to me but once they got out of the fort it was really good.

Shanti
September 12th, 2008, 10:48 PM
The movie is one of those 'best' ones made.
I love all of it.

We have a copy of it too.

Tanya
September 13th, 2008, 03:54 AM
I love the cinametography... since I'm from that area.. I can' watch it without becoming desperately homesick.

as far as the plot and characterization.. typical hollywood crap... never expected more.

When we were children my sister and I read all cooper's books and LIVED them. I mean the god damned backdrop WAS our back yard...

lol

yours truely... Magua

TygerTyger
September 15th, 2008, 05:00 AM
The first half was boring to me but once they got out of the fort it was really good.

Spoken with the insight of the poet!

:hehehehe:

TygerTyger
September 15th, 2008, 05:20 AM
I love the cinametography... since I'm from that area.. I can' watch it without becoming desperately homesick.

as far as the plot and characterization.. typical hollywood crap... never expected more.

When we were children my sister and I read all cooper's books and LIVED them. I mean the god damned backdrop WAS our back yard...

lol

yours truely... Magua

Le Renard Subtil will fall before Killdeer as surely as I am a man without a cross!