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Reviewed March 11th, 2001 by Todd Terwilliger


Based upon the novel of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper, the film by Michael Mann explores the romance between Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), the white adopted son of Chingachgook the Mohican, and Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe), daughter of the English General Edmund Munro.

While hunting and trapping with Chingachgook and his adopted brother Uncas, Hawkeye saves Cora Munro, her sister, and a British officer from a Mohawk raiding party. In love with Cora, Hawkeye tries to protect her from the vengeful Mohawk Magua (Wes Studi), who has sworn to destroy the house Munro.

All the stars give adept performances but, by far, Wes Studi steals the show with his portrayal of Magua. You can feel the intense hatred burning in Magua's eyes as he contemplates his plot against General Munro and his three daughters.

Mann goes for the epic feel and, for the most part, achieves it. The wilderness backdrop is simply breathtaking. The siege of Fort William Henry, however, seems to have aged. It feels small rather than capturing the large scope of that scale of military operation.

The musical score is one of my absolute favorites and is well presented in the DTS sound track. Dialog is mostly clear but occasionally overly quiet. Cannonades have a satisfying bass element and, during the battle sequences, movement among the front sound field and the surrounds is well put to use. For those without DTS decoders, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 sound tracks are also provided. There is a French language track as well.

The video transfer is shown in an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The myriad green shades of the deep wilderness are well represented. There is nice color separation across the palette and flesh tones are neither too bright nor too washed out. While there are a few cases of pixelation in the night scenes, overall the transfer is very clean.

This edition of The Last of the Mohicans represents a director's expanded edition. Unfortunately, having not seen the film in quite sometime before this viewing, the added or altered scenes do not immediately present themselves. However, whatever the changes, the merits of the film have not been diminished.

There are no bonus features to speak of, unless one includes interactive menus and scene selection screens as extras, which I do not. If you were looking for commentaries, documentaries, or anything else to sweeten the pot, there is naught to be had.

I don't mind saying that The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite pictures. It has an epic scope, a beautiful score, and sympathetic characters. Even Magua, as twisted as he is, is imbued with a certain inner logic that gives him humanity, beyond simply being a villain. More than the more recent The Patriot, this film captures the spirit of our colonial past. Whether one prefers romance or adventure, The Last of the Mohicans is sure to please.


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