Reviewer: April Wroblewski
"The year is 1757 in the American Colonies. It is the third year of war between England and France for the possession of the continent. Three men, the last of the vanishing people, are on the frontier west of the Hudson River..."
This is how our story begins, as we are from then on plunged
into James Fenmore Cooper's tale of The Last of the Mohicans.
We are introduced to Nathaniel, called Hawkeye (Daniel
Day-Lewis), a man who lost his parents when he was very young
and then was taken in to be adopted by the Indian Chingachgook
and his son, Uncas (Eric Schweig). Now, Hawkeye and Uncas are
grown and live a life on the New York frontier. The British are
trying to raise a militia, in that area, to war against the
French. The three men Chingachgook, Hawkeye, and Uncas refuse to
join; not considering themselves subject to England and plan to
leave and head southwest instead. On their way west, they rescue
Cora (Madeline Stowe) and Alice Munro (Jodhi
May), who were traveling with a British regiment before they
were attacked by an Indian war party. The two sisters were on
their way to see their father, the British Colonel Munro, who is
stationed at Fort William Henry. The men agree to help escort
the girls to the fort. From then on we are lead into an American
epic with the French and Indian War as a backdrop; a story of
the struggle of survival and a story of love.
My first viewing of this movie was with my mother of the Director's Cut DVD, and after watching it I did not think very highly of the film. I found it depressing and too violent. My mother, who had seen it before and loved it, was disgusted with the DVD, saying they had chopped up the movie, taken out good scenes and added unnecessary ones that did nothing for the furthering of the plot. She went out and bought the video, wanting me to see the version she originally saw, and after watching it with her, I came to love it as much as she did. It's a romantic, epic tale of courage, honor, and virtue set in turbulent wartime. The film is full of wonderfully illustrated characters that exceed your usual one or two dimensional characters. There is the proud British officer Duncan Heyward who looks of the colonists with disdain and has fallen for the Colonel's daughter, Cora. There is Magua, a man who lost his wife and children to the British and is obsessed with revenge. Then there is Chingachgook, the last of his people and the only hope of his blood line continuing is in his son, Uncas. The movie contains a well weaved plot that holds your interest and doesn't let go; with the main focus of the story being on the romance that unfolds between Hawkeye and Cora. Then the story packs a powerful and moving ending.
The Last of the Mohicans is eye candy, from the breathtaking scenery to the gorgeous costumes. The musical score is one of the most fantastic I have ever encountered, with a lovely use of drums and violins that is added to create a very Celtic feeling. But the gem for me personally is the love story between Alice and Uncas. The filmmakers choose to focus more on the love story between their main characters, Cora and Hawkeye, and the story of Alice/Uncas is hugely underplayed. But despite all of this, I found their romance more beautiful, more pure, and more touching than that of the main characters. It was what made the movie for me. Even with all of my praise, please understand I would recommend this film with hesitance. Although I believe my love for the story came out in this review, it is not, I think, a movie everyone would appreciate. This film is rated R for good reason. The graphic violence is not pleasing to the eye and there are some very disturbing situations and elements throughout. Men are hacked by tomahawks, shot in the heat of battle, one man is burnt to death, and another character commits suicide. But the most sickening scene in the film is when one of the characters has his heart cut out. You do not see the actual operation, but do witness the heart itself as one man lifts it in the air for everyone to see.
There is no sexuality per se, but one scene that makes me a little uncomfortable when Cora and Hawkeye share a very passionate kiss. Most of the main characters in the film are Indian, so they do not believe in God. But their religion is never enforced or even focused on. As for swearing, there are a few mild profanities. This is a movie that, if you do choose to watch, I give this warning: please be prepared for some mature scenes.