Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: James Fenimore Cooper (novel) and then many people worked on the adaptation, including Mann.
I have long since loved this movie. It had great production, costume design, and action. More than anything else this movie taught me the significance of music in a film. I don’t know what it is about it but the score is just so powerful in this film. It brings so much emotion into the film and I have always felt that the score was what took it to the next level. This isn’t just a good film but a great one and the musical score is a significant part of that. Considering that the movie is also well cast and directed by a fantastic film maker it’s easy to understand why I have always liked it. While based off a book I never read it is set during a historical time and I studied history in college. I think that has always played a part in why I like this film so much because for some reason I have never been able to get Amber on board with the film. She hates this movie and I can never understand why. In the climax I can feel the pain of the characters and am truly moved by the movie but I will look over to my wife and find her sleeping. She is missing out, and if you watch this film I think you will see what I am talking about.
There are two men credited with original music in this movie, Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones. Looking through their track record I didn’t see anything really significant from either of them. Yet somehow they collaborated to make an incredible score for this film. I find the music in this film to be very moving, and it has always been a significant factor in what drew me in when I saw it for the first time. It brings such an intensity and passion to the action. I don’t know that I have ever seen any other film in which the music synced so well with the action and brought it to life in such a powerful way. It’s unusual really because the reason two different men were credited with the score was because production got so messed up the first guy quit and a second had to be brought in. Things apparently got real mixed up while this movie was in production and it’s amazing that I think what they ultimately put together was so good.
This is a story about badasses and know-it-alls who can’t comprehend inferiority. I’m not saying the English or French were inferior to the Native Americans, but they had an arrogance that skewered their better judgment during this time and in this film. Every time the English have to face the Native Americans they are so hopelessly unprepared. They form into battle arrangement as the Indians rush them and slaughter them. I don’t know the accuracy of these battles specifically but I suspect it is pretty close to how it happened. Guerrilla warfare was born and bred in this country but it didn’t start with the colonials. It started with the natives who didn’t fight by the same rules as the white people who had shown up and tried to establish authority. However, in the end the only Englishman that really matter is Duncan who gives a bad impression at first but gives up the ultimate sacrifice in the end to win us over. Duncan knew he was going to be burned alive but chose to do it anyway for the right reasons; he martyred himself and became something of a hero in doing so.
I know that Daniel Day-Lewis plays the hero of this film, but let’s be honest. The best performance goes to Wes Studi as Magua, one of the greatest badass antagonists ever. When Magua makes his first kill in the movie his victim is actually smiling at him as he approaches. Magua doesn’t care, he slices that guy right in the neck and kills the shit out of him, stone cold killer to the core. Magua is ultimately dispatched in the end by the actual last Mohican but it doesn’t matter then. Magua not only defeated his greatest enemy in the field (the grayhair, Colonel Munro) but he later beat the shit out of the second to last Mohican with seeming ease. He had lived a warrior’s life and it doesn’t matter that he was defeated, he had already achieved enough. Daniel Day-Lewis is probably one of the greatest actors to ever get behind camera, but still I feel he was showed up by Studi in this movie. Magua was awesome and Day-Lewis’s Natty Bumppo doesn’t hold a candle to him. The character of Natty Bumppo’s name was changed for the movie, for obvious reasons. In the film our hero is Nathaniel Poe simply because the name Natty Bumppo doesn’t inspire anything from an audience other than laughter. To prepare for this role Daniel Day-Lewis actually went into the wild to live for a time to get into character, living off the land and hunting for his food. That’s the kind of dedication that has made him one of the greatest actors ever and it has paid off for him time and time again. I think his performance as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York was one of the greatest roles I have ever seen.
The main thing I think that brings this movie down is the romantic element that was obviously pushed in by the studio who needs such a thing to make money. Madeleine Stowe and Daniel Day-Lewis were acceptable but when they made a thing between Uncas and Alice they were reaching. There was actually a scene intended for Uncas and Alice to show off the love that otherwise we don’t really see but the actress’s mother was on set during filming and wouldn’t have it. That’s what makes it stupid though, not only would it have been dumb to do it, it was even dumber not to do it. In the end of the movie Uncas, the last remaining hope for a dying Native American race rushes into his death for a girl he simply saw from afar. Had they actually engaged in some kind of romance it would have made more sense but I still maintain that the relationship in general was just unlikely and simply Hollywood story line crap(unless of course it happened in the book which I did not read, I could be completely wrong about this). Nevertheless, the way it is portrayed in the final cut of the film makes it all seem foolish.
There was apparently a lot of trouble during the making of this film. The movie went really over budget and the studio clamped down hard on Michael Mann when they felt their efforts to break even were threatened. From what I have read, Mann wasn’t really pleased with the final product of the film but despite that I have always like it. I was actually shocked to find out there were so many problems during production because I have literally always thought this movie was great. From what I understand, the DVD version of the film is not the same as the one that hit theaters in 1992 and there is something like an additional 7 or 9 minutes. Mann’s original plan for the film was about an hour longer than what it eventually got cut down to. I really find all of this surprising because I sincerely love the film and am shocked to find that it isn’t even close to what it was originally intended to be.
Despite how things went during production I for one was really pleased with what eventually came out. I love this movie and feel even closer to it because it was filmed in my home state of North Carolina and I have been to a few of the places the film was made. I have a fond place in my heart for these kinds of movies; I am a good American and respect the films that appropriately portray our history. This movie is without doubt worth your time, I have loved it since the first time I saw it and I will tell anybody and everybody that it is worth their time.
I have never liked this movie. I don’t really think there is anything fundamentally wrong with it at all, I just seem to never be able to make it all the way through the movie because I fall asleep. It really is a good story, but it is just so slow. And what the hell is up with all these movies talking about being the last one of something you aren’t. I mean this guy isn’t even a real Mohican, but he gets the title of the last one? And the same thing happens in The Last Samurai. Tom Cruise can’t possibly be considered the last Samurai right? I mean, c’mon!
I am not a big fan of this poster either, It’s boring, believe it or not. Look at that WHITE guy running in his outfit to try and be a Mohican. I don’t like the lame sepia tone, that’s a lazy photoshop move right there. The typography isn’t nice here either because it doesn’t stand off of the background enough. I think with a title that long you have the potential to do some really cool things, but it is wasted here in a boring centered look. Pop quiz! How many times do you think I said boring in this post?
NEXT MOVIE: The Last Samurai (2003)