The Last of the Mohicans

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This is a guest review submitted by Derek Dowell! Thanks Derek!

Nice hair, Hawkeye! (The Last of the Mohicans – 1992)

It’s 1757 and uber actor Daniel Day-Lewis, despite being a hardcore frontiersman, sports great flowing tresses of salon quality hair. Not what you’d expect from this method actor of a white “Indian” miles from the nearest Wal-Green’s, running bare-chested through the wilds of the northeast in pursuit of deer with his two Mohawk buddies.

Based on characters created by James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans boils down the tediously descriptive passages of that late 19th century series of books into an historical pseudo epic with a magnificent soundtrack. You wanna talk about dense word imagery? Back in high school English class, reading and reporting on a book by Cooper counted double. I read them all. At the time, I thought I was coming out ahead despite the possible long term brain damage. Now I’m not so sure.

Thank goodness The Last of the Mohicans doesn’t try to emulate JFC’s verbose style, otherwise the camera would still be lovingly lingering over every single blasted leaf on a tree in the opening shot. Having said that, the cinematography is marvelous! For those of us who didn’t graduate from film school, that means it looks awful purty.

Here’s the situation. France and England are squabbling over the New World (not Pandora, you cretin – the OTHER one). Some of the Indians side with one and some with the other. Thrown into the mix are a couple of English sisters destined to be kidnapped by the baaad Heron Indians, one of whom, Wes Studi (he of the perpetually scowling countenance), lets you know immediately that good things are not in store for our heroes. You might remember Studi as the tough-guy Pawnee from Dances with Wolves two years earlier. **SIGH** Yes, he was also in Avatar, and that’s all I have to say about that.

One of the sisters, Madeline Stowe, falls for Day-Lewis (Hawkeye). He is likewise smitten, despite the fact that she must be using the wrong conditioner since her hair is not nearly as luxuriant and well-groomed as his. Still, we assume he wants to make babies with her from the meaningful glances between them that go on for five freakin’ minutes! But first he must rescue her from Studi’s bad Heron-ness. The final 15 minutes of the movie are as strong you’ll find in Hollywood and is the reason anyone pays to watch shadows on a wall in the first place. There’s sacrifice, heroism, suicide, murder, and an eternally building crescendo of some kind of Irish jig and reel music over booming drums – and that’s just at the line at the concession stand.

The Last of the Mohicans manages to successfully mash together historical context, romance, and a darn good action adventure that satisfies like a really good potato chip and bologna sandwich. By gosh, this film deserves a 5/5 rating but since modern audiences are allergic to history and have the attention span of fruit flies, I’ll grudgingly lower the rating by one notch – but that’s all, damn it!

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