The Last of the Mohicans (1992 film)
|The Last of the Mohicans|
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
|Produced by||Michael Mann
|Screenplay by||Michael Mann
|Story by||John Balderston
|Based on||The Last of the Mohicans
by James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans
by Philip Dunne
|Music by||Trevor Jones
|Edited by||Dov Hoenig
|Morgan Creek Productions|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
(USA & Canada)
|Running time||112 minutes
|Box office||$75,505,856 (United States)|
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same name and George B. Seitz's 1936 film adaptation, owing more to the latter than the novel. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Jodhi May, with 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 nearly-universal praise from critics as well as being commercially successful during its box-office run.
During the French and Indian War in 1757, Mohican Chingachgook (Russell Means) with his sons, Uncas (Eric Schweig) and adopted white Nathaniel Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), visit the Cameron frontier household. Friend Jack Winthrop (Edward Blatchford) tells them he is gathering militia for the British army. General Webb agrees to grant the militia leave if their homes are attacked, in return for their reinforcement of Colonel Edmund Munro (Maurice Roëves) at Fort William Henry.
Newly arrived Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) and the Huron guide Magua (Wes Studi) are to escort Munro's daughters, Cora (Madeleine Stowe) and Alice (Jodhi May), from Albany to their father at the fort. Duncan wishes to marry Cora but she feels only friendship for him. Magua leads the group into an ambush by his Huron party but Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook save Duncan, Cora and Alice and decide to escort them to the fort.
Along the way the Cameron home is found razed and its occupants murdered, most likely by a war party as nothing has been stolen. The group arrives at the fort which is under siege by the French but sneak in. Munro is surprised at his daughters’ arrival, because he sent a letter for them to stay away and requesting reinforcements but the courier was intercepted by Magua. The fort can only hold for three more days, so a messenger is sent to General Webb for help. Cora and Hawkeye have become attracted to one other and so when Munro and Hawkeye disagree about the attack on the Cameron home, a jealous Duncan publicly claims that it was done by thieves. He privately confesses to Munro afterwards that Hawkeye was correct but Munro believes that British interests and the defense of the fort are more important and refuses to let Jack and the militia leave to defend their homes and families. Cora is disgusted by Duncan for lying and tells him that she will not marry him. Hawkeye helps the militia desert, despite Munro's threats and is arrested for sedition and sentenced to hang, despite Cora's pleas. French General Montcalm (Patrice Chéreau) generously offers all in the fort safe passage to Albany if they surrender and vow to never fight in North America. Munro reluctantly accepts after Montcalm shows Webb’s intercepted message, showing that no aid is forthcoming.
Magua berates Montcalm for making peace, revealing that his village was destroyed and his children killed by Munro's troops, assisted by the Mohawk; though he regained his freedom from Mohawk slavery, his wife remarried believing he was dead. Montcalm, though intending to honor the terms, implies to Magua that he does not want to fight the British troops a second time. In consequence, the retreating British soldiers and their families are ambushed by Magua's men. Magua cuts out Munro's heart but not before promising to kill Munro's daughters to extinguish his line. Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, Uncas, Chingachgook, Duncan and two British soldiers flee in canoes across Lake George and down a river to a cave behind a waterfall but Magua and his men are soon upon them. For their safety, Hawkeye urges Cora and Alice to submit if captured and promises he will find them later, then leaps with his father and brother down the waterfall. Magua takes Duncan and the two sisters to a Huron village.
Magua is negotiating with the sachem when they are interrupted by the arrival of an unarmed Hawkeye. Despite provocations and threats by the warriors, he manfully walks into the village holding aloft a collection of wampum beads that declare his right to be heard and to be left unharmed. With Duncan translating in French, Hawkeye convinces the chief that Magua is acting for his own interests, rather than for the good of the tribe. He tells the chief that Magua's heart is filled with white mans' sickness for power and loot. The chief decides that Cora is to be burned alive to atone for Magua's children, gives Alice to replace Magua's wife so that both bloodlines can continue and orders Duncan's return to the British to placate them. Hawkeye is released in recognition of his bravery but pleads to take Cora’s place. Duncan deliberately mistranslates, sacrificing himself instead, so Hawkeye and Cora can go free. Magua curses the sachem and departs with Alice and his men. From a safe distance, Hawkeye mercifully shoots Duncan as he is being burned alive.
Uncas, who cares for Alice, races ahead to intercept Magua's band, killing several warriors before engaging Magua in single combat. Magua kills him, then drops his body off the cliff. Rather than join Magua, Alice follows Uncas, jumping to her death. Seeing this, Hawkeye and Chingachgook fall upon the Hurons, killing several. While Hawkeye holds the rest at bay, Chingachgook engages and kills Magua. After a ritual for Uncas and Alice with Cora and Hawkeye, Chingachgook announces that he is the last of the Mohicans.
Much care was taken with recreating accurate costumes and props. American Bladesmith Society Master Bladesmith 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.
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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.
Reception and honors
The Last of the Mohicans opened to general acclaim, with critics praising the film for its cinematography and music. Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "...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".
American Film Institute recognition:
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. It was ranked the 17th highest-grossing film of 1992 in the United States.
- "The Last of The Mohicans". Box Office Mojo. March 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Haskew, Mike (2006-09-01). "Star-Spangled Hawks Take Wing" 33 (9). Blade Magazine. pp. 30–37.
- Roger Ebert (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Desson Howe (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Rita Kempley (September 25, 1992). "The Last of The Mohicans". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- Rotten Tomatoes (March 18, 2007). "Freshness count". Rotten Tomatoes. 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
- "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. 1992-10-06. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- Fox, David J. (1992-10-06). "Box Office Hasn't Seen the Last of 'Mohicans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- "1992 Yearly Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
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- The Last of the Mohicans at Box Office Mojo