“The Last of the Mohicans” was one of the most popular and acclaimed films of 1992. Its vision of early America, as it was during the French and Indian War, is captured in its utter brutality and beauty, complete with the many driving ambitions and clashing cultures of everyone involved.
This movie has a bit of everything, including action, romance, war, and passionate drama. The director, Michael Mann, knows the story well and does all but completely discard James Fenimore Cooper’s source material, which some have dubbed as being racist and totally unfair in its portrait of Native Americans.
The story (and what a story) is all over the place, with three frontier scouts – Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), Chingachgook (Russell Means), and Uncas (Eric Schweig) – escorting a British colonel’s daughters – Cora and Alice Munro (Madeleine Stowe and Jodhi May respectively) – to safety at the besieged Fort William Henry. Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) rivals Hawkeye for Cora’s affections and a vengeance-driven Huron named Magua (Wes Studi) seeks to have both daughters killed in retribution for the loss of his own children.
This is by far Mann’s best film yet (it ranks #15 on my all-time favorite movies list) and he uses the lush wilderness settings to great effect. He also makes good use of the editing, which actually comes in handy when showcasing the brutal violence that dominates much of the film’s action sequences. The film’s last 20 minutes are a definite stunner that can only be described as classic and vicious.
This is a great movie that shows America in its infancy, complete with the rivalries, intrigue, and violence that I’m sure was an everyday part of life during this hectic time period.