Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans; Adventure, USA, 1992; D: Michael Mann, S: Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Means, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi, Patrice Chéreau

In 1757, the British and the French are fighting over territory in North America. White man Hawkeye lost his parents as a child so he was adopted by Mohican Chinachgook who made him equal to his real son Uncas. The three of them save British Colonel Munro from an attack by Huron Indians and their leader Magua. Munro is grateful, leading them with his two daughters Cora and Alice to a fort to defend it. Hawkeye and Cora fall in love, but when he helps some soldiers to leave the fort he gets arrested by Munro. Realizing that the French are stronger, the British give them the fort and leave. On their way they are again attacked by Magua because it turns out that Munro killed his family. Hawkeye begs Magua to spare them. The Huron kill Munro, Uncas and Alice, but spare Hawkeye and Cora.

Another excellent film by Michael Mann, "The Last of the Mohicans" demands a lot of concentration and flexibility from the viewers, but rewards in the end due to a story that was inserted with a lot of style. The film really has sense already in the exposition where the camera "travels" through the nature as well as in the night sequences, especially the one where the explosion illuminates the fort in an almost poetic manner. Once again, Mann's decision of cinematography benefits the film on numerous occasions, but that's not to say equal attention was not given to the characters. When Major Duncan aims with his pistol at the hero in a boat who, not even looking at him, says: "Don't you have anything better to do?", causing him to lower the weapon, it tells a lot about him and their relationship. Even though Munro and Duncan are episodic characters, they are powerfully portrayed, though the female protagonists remained slightly one-dimensional. The theme of colonisation of the Native Americans was handled in a unobtrusive way, while Daniel Day-Lewis is once again great, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA for best actor.


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