The Last Of The Mohicans * * * * 1/2
Director: Michael Mann.
Screenplay: Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi, Russell Means, Maurice Roeves, Steven Waddington, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Patrice Chereau, Terry Kinney, David Schofield, Dylan Baker, Jared Harris, Colm Meaney, Pete Postlethwaite.
Director Michael Mann’s vast canvas is normally urban with a keen eye for a sprawling cityscape. Here though, he shows his vision is just as effective when his surroundings are the sweeping forestry and mountain ranges of North America.
1757, the French and British battle for control of North America in the French and Indian war. Travelling through these lands are mohawk ‘Chingachgook’ (Russell Means), his son ‘Uncas’ (Eric Schweig) and his adopted white son ‘Hawkeye’ (Daniel Day-Lewis). They want no part of the war but when they happen to become a rescue party to ‘Cora’ (Madeleine Stowe) and ‘Alice’ (Jodhi May) daughters of Scottish Colonel Edmund Munro (Maurice Roeves) they gradually become embroiled.
During the making of this, Mann was forced by the studio to cut his +3 hour long film. Despite this, it still feels like the intended epic at just under two hours. That’s thanks to his assured pacing, the beautiful cinematography and the stirring music combining to marvellous and rousing effect. It’s a magnificent modern adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel brought vibrantly to the screen by Mann’s skillful direction and his ability to stage superb action set-pieces. The quietly thrilling and powerful Shakespearean finale is something to behold and one of the most tragic, yet most satisfying endings you’re ever likely to see. The acting is flawless throughout, with Day-Lewis delivering a charismatic central performance and despite having very little dialogue, Wes Studi is a standout as the native ‘Magua’, one of cinema’s greatest villains.
A sweeping epic with breathtaking cinematography, gripping action scenes and a rousing music score all coalescing for a kinetic and powerful romantic adventure. One of Mann’s finest.