|The Last of the Mohicans|
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
|Box office||$143 million|
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 American epic historical drama film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. It was co-written and directed by Michael Mann and was based on James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 and George B. Seitz's 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 in the United States on September 25, 1992, The Last of the Mohicans was met with positive reviews and commercial success during its box-office run. It won the Academy Award for Best Sound, the only Oscar won by a film directed by Michael Mann. Daniel Day-Lewis received his second BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance.
In 1757, British Army Major Duncan Heyward arrives in Albany, New York, during the French and Indian War. He is assigned to serve Colonel Edmund Munro, the commander of Fort William Henry in the Adirondack Mountains. Heyward is tasked with escorting Munro's 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.
A Mohawk named Magua is tasked with guiding Heyward, the two women, and a troop of British soldiers to the fort, but he is actually a Huron and leads them into an ambush that leads to 18 of the soldiers being killed, with only Heyward and a couple of wounded surviving. Mohican Chingachgook, his son Uncas, and his white, adopted son, "Hawkeye", kill all of the Hurons except Magua, who escapes. The trio agrees to take the women and Heyward to the fort. During the trek, they find another massacre at a farm but do not stop to bury the victims so as not to alert the Hurons to their presence. Cora and Hawkeye are attracted to each other, as are Uncas and Alice.
They find the fort under siege by the French and their Huron allies but successfully sneak in. Colonel Munro is surprised to see his daughters as he had sent a letter warning them to stay away, but it was never delivered by the perfidious Magua. Heyward becomes jealous of Hawkeye when Cora tells Heyward she will not accept his marriage proposal. Munro is surprised to learn that General Webb's reinforcements at Fort Edward and may be able to aide his beleaguered command. The British regulars, led by Heyward at dark, create an elaborate diversion to engage with their French counterparts outside the walls of the fort (in deleted scenes not shown in the cinema release). This allows one of the militia men to take Munro's communique to Webb, with Hawkeye, Chingachook and Uncas providing covering fire from the fort walls killing potential interceptions from Huron's and French bateau men.
After Munro refuses to honor the agreement that the militiamen could leave to protect their homesteads if they were threatened, Hawkeye helps them sneak away. He is arrested for sedition and sentenced to hang. However, without reinforcements, Munro is forced to accept French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm's offer: the British can leave the fort honorably with their arms. Magua is furious because this robs him of his chance to kill Munro, against whom he bears a grudge for English attacks on his people.
Once Munro, his soldiers and civilians leave the fort, Huron warriors attack and massacre them. Magua personally kills Munro by cutting out his heart. Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook fight their way out, taking Cora, Alice, Heyward, and a few others. They hide in a cave behind a waterfall, but Magua catches up with them, capturing Heyward and the women. Before Hawkeye escapes by leaping from the waterfall with the others, he tells Cora to stay alive and swears that he will find her.
Magua takes his three prisoners to a Huron settlement. While he is addressing a sachem, Hawkeye walks in unarmed to plead for their lives. The paramount chief rules that Heyward is to be returned to the British, Alice be given to Magua for the wrongs done to him by Munro, and Cora be burned alive. Although Hawkeye is told he may leave in peace for his bravery, he offers to take Cora's place. Heyward, who is acting as interpreter, instead trades his life for Cora's.
After Cora leaves the village with Hawkeye, he shoots Heyward, who is being burned alive, as an act of mercy to spare him a slow, agonizing death. Chingachgook, Uncas, and Hawkeye then pursue Magua's party to rescue Alice. Uncas races ahead but is killed in personal combat by Magua, whereupon Alice leaps to her death. In anger, Hawkeye and Chingachgook slay some of the Hurons. Then, as Hawkeye holds the rest at bay, Chingachgook duels with and kills Magua. Later, Hawkeye and Cora watch as Chingachgook prays to the Great Spirit to receive Uncas, proclaiming himself "the last of the Mohicans."
- Daniel Day-Lewis as Nathaniel "Hawkeye" Poe
- Madeleine Stowe as Cora Munro
- Russell Means as Chingachgook
- Eric Schweig as Uncas
- Jodhi May as Alice Munro
- Steven Waddington as Major Duncan Heyward
- Wes Studi as Magua
- Maurice Roëves as Colonel Edmund Munro
- Patrice Chéreau as General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
- Edward Blatchford as Jack Winthrop
- Terry Kinney as John Cameron
- Tracey Ellis as Alexandra Cameron
- Justin M. Rice as James Cameron
- Dennis Banks as Ongewasgone
- Pete Postlethwaite as Captain Beams
- Colm Meaney as Major Ambrose
- Mac Andrews as General Webb
- Malcolm Storry as Phelps
- David Schofield as Sergeant Major
- Eric D. Sandgren as Coureur de Bois
- Mike Phillips as Sachem
- Mark A. Baker as Colonial Man
- Dylan Baker as Captain Bougainville
- Tim Hopper as Ian
- Jared Harris as British Lieutenant
- Sebastian Roché as Martin
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 Hawkeye's "Killdeer" rifle used in the film. The gunstock war club made for Chingachgook was created by Jim Yellow Eagle. Magua's 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.
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Although the story takes place in upstate colonial New York, filming was done 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. Also, Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock was in the movie near the end. Scenes of Albany were shot in Asheville, NC at The Manor on Charlotte Street.
The set of Fort William Henry was constructed on felled forestry land () adjacent to Lake James in NC. Highway 126, which ran between the set and the lake, had to be closed for the duration of the filming.
The film opened in the United States on September 25, 1992, in 1,856 theaters. It was the number 1 movie on its opening weekend. By the end of its first weekend, The Last of the Mohicans had generated $10,976,661, and by the end of its domestic run, the film had made $75,505,856 in the United States and Canada. It was ranked the 17th highest-grossing film of 1992 in the United States. Internationally, the film grossed more than $67 million for a worldwide total of over $143 million.
When the film was released theatrically in the United States, its running length was 112 minutes. This was the same length when a VHS version was released in the U.S. on June 23, 1993. It was later re-edited to a length of 117 minutes for its U.S. DVD release on November 23, 1999, which was billed as the "Director's Expanded Edition". It was again re-edited for its U.S. Blu-ray release on October 5, 2010, this time billed as the "Director's Definitive Cut", with a length of 114 mins.
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 Cooper's 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 93% based on reviews from 41 critics, with an average rating of 7.74/10. The site's 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."
Awards and nominations
American Film Institute recognition:
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- "Last of the Mohicans (Director's Expanded Edition): Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Wes Studi, Maurice Roëves, Patrice Chéreau, Edward Blatchford, Terry Kinney, Tracey Ellis, Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe, Daniel Moore, James Fenimore Cooper, John L. Balderston, Paul Perez, Philip Dunne: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- "The Last of the Mohicans Blu-ray: Director's Definitive Cut". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- Wurm, Gerald (2010-10-29). "Last of the Mohicans, The (Comparison: Theatrical Version - Director's Definitive Cut)". Movie-Censorship.com. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- Ebert, Roger (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Howe, Desson (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Kempley, Rita (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "Freshness count". Rotten Tomatoes. March 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees
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