I still fondly recall this excellent BBC classic serial which was shown in the days of regular classic children's serials in the Sunday teatime slot. I've always been quite a fan of Fenimore Cooper's heroic but quite complicated character Natty Bumpo, more commonly known as Hawkeye. Sadly, most US depictions of the character have been shallow, merely portraying Hawkeye as an action man of early American pioneer life, and most of the US feature films/TV films are disappointing. Although I enjoyed Daniel Day Lewis' interpretation of Hawkeye as a dramatic piece, this was still not the character I identify with. This BBC serial, however, remains faithful to Fenimore Cooper's original novel. It is therefore, naturally, a far more leisurely piece than the US adaptations and Pathfinder's idealistic personality is fully revealed as the courageous and fair-minded frontier scout as he protects Mabel, the young woman he loves. Paul Massie's portrayal of Hawkeye, to my mind, is the most memorable that I have come across, the definite depiction of Cooper's character on screen. Credit here is also due to Alistair Bell and Allan Prior's fine script, which fully captures the original feel of Cooper's Leatherstocking novels. One wonders if the serial is still languishing on tape in the vaults of the BBC...how wonderful it would be to see it once again!
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