The Last of the Mohicans – 1992 – English
Adventures film directed in 1992 by Michael Mann, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi, Jodhi May, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Steven Waddington, Maurice Roeves, Patrice Chéreau, Edward Blatchford, Terry Kinney, Colm Meaney, Pete Postlethwaite, David Schofield, Mac Andrews, Dylan Baker, Jared Harris…
Synopsis: The last members of a dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans — Uncas, his father Chingachgook, and his adopted half-white brother Hawkeye — live in peace alongside British colonists. But when the daughters of a British colonel are kidnapped by a traitorous scout, Hawkeye and Uncas must rescue them in the crossfire of a gruesome military conflict of which they wanted no part: the French and Indian War.
Review: First I saw the movie and got excited by the beautiful backdrop scenery. Then I found out that the two main historical events depicted, the siege and fall of Fort William Henry and the subsequent massacre, actually happened. So I saw the movie again. Then I read the book. Then I read a good book about the French and Indian War.
This is an instance where the movie deviates from the book and is the better for it. Then I’m pleased with the fact that history wasn’t tampered with, at least not too much. Historians aren’t sure how the Fort William Henry massacre was triggered or how complete it was; it is documented that the massacre actually happened. I find no historical record of Colonel Munro conducting any campaign of lodge-burning against the Huron; but then again it is documented that Munro did not have any daughters. Those characters are in the book as well as the movie. Cooper invented them himself.
The idea of Huron war parties raiding on the frontier doesn’t pop up in the book or the historical record, but it’s perfectly plausible; the native Americans fought that way all through the Colonial period. The savagery of Native American warfare is depicted fairly accurately; all accounts I have confirm that. The concept of taking captives is depicted accurately too, for the reasons described.
Being of the bent that I am, I find the dual love stories involving the Cora Munro-Hawkeye-Major Heywood triangle and the Uncas-Alice Munro relationship all well and good; they were done well enough. I was more fascinated by the historical backdrop and the very nice North Carolina scenery, which is supposed to mimic the Adirondacks, where the story is set.
For those with time on their hands and money to spend, both Fort William Henry and Fort Carillon (better known as Fort Ticonderog) exist; they have been fully restored and are now historical museums. I visited Fort Ticonderoga when I was 12 years old, and found it fascinating. Now that I’ve seen this movie I want to go out that way again, start at Fort William and Henry and work my way North to Crown Point, learning all I can on the way.
What I really recommend is to see the movie once, enjoying the scenery and the love stories, as well as the action. Then read “The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America” by Walter R. Borneman.
Then see the movie again, from a different perspective.