My all time favorite film. Still gives me chills. It's easily one of the most amazing films I've ever seen and it also features perhaps one of the greatest soundtracks ever. They way, the music hits the scenes is just absolutely astonishing.
In essence, The Last of the Mohicans is an epic adventure/romance set against the panorama of a frontier wilderness ravaged by the French and Indian War.
Director Michael Mann brilliantly captures the essence of the era ( 1750's)-the hand-to hand battles, the scalping's, the harsh life in the wilderness, etc. But, I especially love the way that the film depicts the perspectives of each of the groups and the people involved. Whether they are competing for military superiority, referring to the French General Montcalm ( Patrice Chéreau ) and the British Colonel Munro (Maurice Roëves) or the simple existence of peoples in their homeland, the viewer is given a true sense of their mindset in the midst of a great conflict.
Even the story's main antagonist, Magua (wonderfully portrayed by Wes Studi) draws us in.
The always amazing Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Hawkeye, rugged frontiersman and adopted son of the Mohicans. Day-Lewis, with flowing mane and heaving pecs, makes a virile but sensitive hero for the screen and Madeline Stowe is Cora Munro, aristocratic daughter of the proud British Colonel Munro. Stowe manages to find in Cora a fiery balance between sensitivity and strength. One can't help but feel fascinated and/ or captivated by her dark eyes and flowing dark hair.
Generally, the film tells the story of Hawkeye and Cora Munro, two people who meet across cultural and class barriers, and are presented serious new challenges.
But the film has so more. For example, the contrasts between the two brothers ( Hawkeye and Uncas) and the two sisters ( Cora and Alice). Hawkeye being the more daring and outspoken from the start. He dares to approach the dark haired Cora when he was drawn to her, where as Uncas (Eric Schweig) never openly reveals his attraction to Alice ( Jodhi May). Besides, those short simple looks and glances.
But then again, do we really need lines? No. Both Schweig and May have very few lines, but it is their eyes, that are saying everything... Case in point, that sequence in the cave, where Uncas pulls Alice back from the falls and holds her.
All in all, I have to honestly say that the last 40 or 50 minutes or so of this movie, are just completely off the hook. I'd wager it might start along the lines of hearing that huge Huron war party cry as the British Army retreats from Ft. William Henry. This leads to Hawkeye vow to rescue Cora no matter what in the scene that takes place behind the waterfall. This is a scene that has been copied and mimicked by many others ( notably Tom Cruise in M1-2) but the way Day-Lewis delivers the line "You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you" simply makes you believe him.
Another amazing sequence would be when our heroes are running up the hill to save Cora, Alice, and the British Maj. Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) after they've been captured. For whatever, reason the Directors Expanded DVD emits the haunting Clannad song, "I Will Find You". Why this isn't heard during the scene is beyond me.
I've watched this film way too many times now, but easily it is the last 15 minutes that are the most powerful and emotionally devastating. For instance, just watch the way the sequence of music starts with Duncan shouting "take her and get out", you know that something serious is going to happen and Duncan is doomed......
Or the scene of Uncas's and then Alice's shocking deaths. I've always viewed the later scene as the first time Alice takes control of her own destiny and chooses not to be a victim. She finally snaps out of her shock-induced haze and takes action. Her choice of suicide is made from a place of strength.
But it is also the more quiet of moments that simply resonate. For instance, when Chingachgook ( Russell Means) speaks about being the Last of his tribe.
A film that truly resonates. No matter the age or the mood.
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