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The Last of the Mohicans Movie Review

hawkeye cora munro duncan

1992 – Michael Mann –

The Last of the Mohicans is an epic adventure with passion and romance set in 1757 in the frontier west of the Hudson River. From the opening scene of three men running gracefully through a forest in pursuit of a deer to the beautiful music of Randy Edelman (Beethoven, Come See the Paradise) and Trevor Jones (Excalibur; The Dark Crystal), the audience is captivated by the sleek Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis). Based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper and the screenplay by Philip Dunne (for the 1936 version) and shot in the magnificent scenery of North Carolina, the story of Chingachgook (Russell Means) and his two sons—Uncas (Eric Schweig) and Hawkeye is brought to life by screenwriter/director Michael Mann so well that we don't really care if it is true history or not.

Set in 1751 as the French and English clash in North America, the beginning of the movie alternates between Hawkeye and Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe), the woman with whom he will fall in love and the daughter of the British commanding officer. The first time we see Cora, she sits with Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) and tries to think of a nice way to refuse his proposal. Duncan wants her to rely on his and her father's judgment about marriage, but Cora has a mind of her own and she is too adventurous and daring for the dull Duncan. We see her courage when she takes a gun from a dead soldier, puts it in her skirt, speaks sedition to her father, and asks him to free Hawkeye.

When Hawkeye and Cora initially meet, he and his family have just saved the lives of Cora, her sister Alice (Jodhi May), and Duncan. Soon after, their romance begins, although it gets off to a rough start when Cora accuses Hawkeye of being indifferent because he refuses to bury the bodies of settlers attacked by a war party.

Sometimes the style-conscious approach becomes a little too obvious. For example, the camera focuses on Magua's (Wes Studi) tomahawk when he is about to kill a British soldier and start an attack. In the scene where the two generals are discussing surrender, their country's flags fill the background. Both of these scenes would be effective without these obvious touches. But many of the moments are very well done. The scene in which Colonel Munro surrenders arouses sympathy for the soldiers on the losing side. Munro says, “Death and honor are thought to be the same, but today I have learned they are not,” as the camera pans over the soldiers awaiting his decision. The French agree to free the English if they will return to their homes and not fight again. The French, however, do not keep their promise, and the low angle of the camera shows the sinister Magua looking down on the homeward-bound Englishmen from the darkness of the trees before attacking. His looming presence above in the gloom suggests that his hatred has made him powerful and merciless.

The letterbox format allows us to see the expanse of the beautiful scenery as well as the destruction and damage of war. Despite the graphic violence, The Last of the Mohicans is a stunning epic well worth watching.

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis (Hawkeye; Nathaniel Poe), Madeleine Stowe (Cora Munro), Russell Means (Chingachgook), Eric Schweig (Uncas), Jodhi May (Alice Munro), Wes Studi (Magua), Steven Waddington (Major Duncan Heyward), Maurice Roeves (Colonel Edmund Munro), Patrice Chereau (General Montcalm), Edward Blatchford (Jack Winthrop), Terry Kin-ney (John Cameron), Tracey Ellis (Alexandra Cameron), Justin M. Rice (James Cameron), Pete Postlethwaite (Captain Beams), Colm Meaney (Major Ambrose) Screenwriter: Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe Cinematographer: Dante Spinotti Composer: Randy Edelman, Trevor Jones Producer: Michael Mann and Hunt Lowry for Morgan Creek; released by Warner Bros. MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 110 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards 1993: Best Sound; Golden Globe Awards 1993: Nominations: Best Original Score Budget: $40M Box Office: $72.455M (domestic gross).

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