ⓘ The Last of the Mohicans (1992 film)
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 American epic historical drama film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. It was written and directed by Michael Mann and was based on James Fenimore Coopers 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 and George B. Seitzs 1936 film adaptation, owing more to the film than the novel. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, with Jodhi May, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Eric Schweig, and Steven Waddington in supporting roles.
The soundtrack features music by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, and the song "I Will Find You" by Clannad. The main theme of the film is taken from the tune "The Gael" by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean.
Released on September 25, 1992 in the United States, The Last of the Mohicans was met with positive reviews and commercial success during its box-office run.
In 1757, British Army Major Duncan Heyward arrives in Albany, New York during the French and Indian War. He has been sent to serve Colonel Edmund Munro, who is the commander of Fort William Henry in the Adirondack Mountains. Heyward is tasked with escorting the colonels two daughters, Cora and Alice, to their father. Before they leave, Heyward asks Cora to marry him but she does not give him an answer.
An Iroquois named Magua is tasked with guiding Heyward, the two women, and a troop of British soldiers to the fort but instead he turns out to be a Huron who leads the party into a Huron ambush. Mohican chief Chingachgook, his son Uncas, and his white, adopted son, "Hawkeye", kill the Hurons; only Magua escapes. The trio agree to take the women and Heyward to the fort. During the trek, attraction grows between Cora and Hawkeye as well as Uncas and Alice.
When the party reach the fort, they find it under siege by the French and their Huron allies. They sneak in and are greeted by Colonel Munro, who asks Heyward about his request for reinforcements. The major becomes jealous of the noticeable feelings developing between Cora and Hawkeye. He finally learns she will not marry him.
Munro refuses the militiamens request for permission to leave because the French and Indian allies are raiding homesteads along the colonys borders. After Hawkeye helps them sneak away, he is arrested for sedition and sentenced to hang. However, without reinforcements, Munro is forced to seek a parley with the besieging general Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, who demands that the British abandon the fort. Munro, who is greatly outnumbered, has little choice but to accept the terms. But Magua is furious because the surrender has robbed him of his chance to kill Munro who once hurt him and his family.
Colonel Munro, leads his remaining soldiers, and civilians out of the fort. Away from the fort, Huron warriors begin a massacre of the column. Magua personally kills Munro by cutting out his heart. Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook fight their way out taking Cora, Alice, Heyward, and a few other stragglers with them. They take shelter behind a waterfall but the vengeful Magua eventually catches up with them, capturing Heyward and the women.
Magua takes his three prisoners to a Huron settlement. While he is addressing a sachem, Hawkeye interrupts him with a plea to save their lives. The paramount chief rules: Heyward should be returned to the British, Alice is given to Magua for the wrongs done to him by Munro, but Cora will be burned alive. Although Hawkeye is told he may go in peace for walking unarmed into a Huron village, he offers to take Coras place. Heyward, who was acting as the French translator, trades his life for Coras instead.
After Hawkeye and Cora have left the village, he mercifully shoots Heyward as he is being burned alive. Chingachgook, Uncas, and Hawkeye then chase after Maguas party to rescue Alice. Uncas, who has raced ahead, falls from a cliff after being mortally wounded by Magua. Seeing his death, Alice falls to her own death despite Maguas attempts to dissuade her. Eventually, Hawkeye and Chingachgook slay most of the remaining Hurons before Chingachgook personally kills Magua.
Hawkeye and Cora watch as Chingachgook prays to the Great Spirit to receive Uncas, proclaiming himself "the last of the Mohicans."
2.1. Production Development
Much care was taken with recreating accurate costumes and props. Daniel Winkler made the tomahawks used in the film and knifemaker Randall King made the knives. Wayne Watson is the maker of Hawkeyes "Killdeer" rifle used in the film. The gunstock war club made for Chingachgook was created by Jim Yellow Eagle. Maguas tomahawk was made by Fred A. Mitchell of Odin Forge & Fabrication.
Costumes were originally designed by multiple Academy Award winner James Acheson, but he left the film and had his name removed because of artistic differences with Mann. Designer Elsa Zamparelli was brought in to finish.
2.2. Production Locations
Despite the film taking place in upstate New York, according to the film credits, it was filmed mostly in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Locations used include Lake James, Chimney Rock Park and The Biltmore Estate. Some of the waterfalls that were used in the movie include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and High Falls, all located in the DuPont State Recreational Forest. Another of these falls was Linville Falls, in the mountains of North Carolina. Scenes of Albany were shot in Asheville, NC at The Manor on Charlotte Street.
2.3. Production Alternate versions
The film was released theatrically in the U.S. on September 25, 1992 at a length of 112 minutes. It was released at this same length on VHS in the U.S. on June 23, 1993. It was re-edited to a length of 117 minutes for its U.S. DVD release on November 23, 1999, which was billed as the "Directors Expanded Edition". It was again re-edited for its U.S. Blu-ray release on October 5, 2010, this time billed as the "Directors Definitive Cut", with a length of 114 mins.
3.1. Reception Critical response
The Last of the Mohicans opened with critics praising the film for its cinematography and music. Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars and called it "quite an improvement on Coopers all but unreadable book, and a worthy successor to the Randolph Scott version," going on to say that The Last of the Mohicans is not as authentic and uncompromised as it claims to be - more of a matinee fantasy than it wants to admit - but it is probably more entertaining as a result."
Desson Howe of The Washington Post classified the film as "glam-opera" and "the MTV version of gothic romance". Rita Kempley of the Post recognized the "heavy drama," writing that the film "sets new standards when it comes to pent-up passion", but commented positively on the "spectacular scenery".
At review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 95% based on reviews from 40 critics, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The sites consensus states: The Last of the Mohicans is a breathless romantic adventure that plays loose with history -- and comes out with a richer action movie for it."
3.2. Reception Awards
The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound.
American Film Institute recognition:
- Hawkeye - Nominated Hero
- AFIs 100 Years.100 Heroes and Villains
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