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The Last of the Mohicans

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 14-09-2010


An epic adventure and passionate romance unfold against the panorama of a frontier wilderness ravaged by war. Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor in 1989 for My Left Foot) stars as Hawkeye, rugged frontiersman and adopted son of the Mohicans, and Madeleine Stowe is Cora Munro, aristocratic daughter of a proud British Colonel. Their love, tested by fate, blazes amidst a brutal conflict between the British, the French and Native American allies that engulfs … More >>

The Last of the Mohicans

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Comments (5)

Like many people here, I detest the recut DVD version of this film. Seeing the original theatrical version in 1992 was one of the key moviegoing experiences of my life. I don’t buy DVDs to see a new spin on a movie I liked, I buy them to be able to rewatch that same movie. Alternate cuts are fine as a bonus feature, but once I saw how Michael Mann had butchered his mainstream masterpiece, giving no option of seeing how it was originally, I sold the DVD and bought a copy of the mercifully untouched widescreen VHS.

Recently, however, I discovered that while this American director’s cut DVD is from Fox, Warner Bros holds the rights to Mohicans outside the USA, and they have released the original theatrical version on DVD around the globe. I have a regionless DVD player, which is easy to get in many stores for under fifty dollars, so I bought a copy of the British DVD at amazon.co.uk

Wow. It’s as I remembered it, with the Clannad song, without the extra monologue over the closing scene, and with my favorite line back in — “My father warned me about people like you. He said do not try to understand them, and do not try to make them understand you.”

If you love this movie like I do, get a regionless DVD player, they’re worth it for so many reasons, and then get a copy of the British DVD. You’ll be glad you did.
Rating: 5 / 5

Re-release of a previous review so those who read nearby reviews NOTE the difference between VHS (excellent) and DVD (POOR): Waited in great anticipation for the DVD release of this one. The Last of the Mohicans is a great movie enhanced with terrific music. The VHS widescreen version in THX is a wonderful piece of entertainment. Unfortunately, this Director’s Expanded Edition has destroyed the flow and continuity of the original. In Director Michael Mann’s attempt to supply us with his “definitive vision of the film” via his own editing, he has ignored the professional editors and provided us with a substandard version of what was a fine film. Several of the added clips have no musical sound track at all and come across as painfully awkward – making the viewer fully aware he/she is watching actors in front of a camera rather than immersing us in the action. There is even a series of scenes in the original (and VHS) that has a vocal music piece overlaid that has been completely omitted from the DVD. All in all, I was very disappointed in the DVD after having distinctive and memorable images etched in my mind from the original theater and VHS releases.
Rating: 2 / 5

Set in 1757 during the French and Indian War, “The Last of the Mohicans” is based (but does not strictly adhere to) the novel by James Fenimore Cooper. It is a lavish, exquisite production, with Daniel Day-Lewis fantastic as Hawkeye, showing a screen magnetism that is more intense than in any other part he has played. His chemistry with beautiful Cora, wonderfully portrayed by Madeleine Stowe is palpable, and they manage to have one of the most erotic love scenes ever filmed, without shedding a single garment. The film has many battles scenes, and could be categorized as “action/adventure,” but I always think of it as being primarily a romance, and it is also an excellent depiction of the early days of the settlers, and their many struggles.

The setting is western New York, with much of the action taking place at Fort William Henry, but it was actually filmed in the lush and scenic wilderness of North Carolina, with superb cinematography by Dante Spinotti, and a lovely score by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman. Michael Mann’s direction keeps a terrific pace, and the cast is wonderful, and includes Russell Means, marvelous in his film debut as Chingachgook, Eric Schweig as Uncas, Wes Studi as the revengeful Magua, Johdi May as Cora’s sister Alice, and Steven Waddington impressive as Major Duncan Heyward.

VHS vs. DVD: The Director’s Expanded Edition, though still a brilliant film, is a disappointment, and I will be keeping my old letterbox VHS, which though worn, actually has a brighter picture than the DVD. The “expanded” portions add little to the enjoyment of the film, and the deletions hurt it. The incomplete conversation between Hawkeye and Cora in the burial ground is left hanging in the air, and the absence of Clannad’s song, “I Will Find You”, takes much of the magic from the scene where Hawkeye follows the captured Cora.

Total running time for the VHS, 114 minutes, DVD 117 minutes.

Rating: 5 / 5

This DVD is a huge disappointment. With every other movie I have ever bought that was labeled a “Director’s Cut” or an “Expanded Edition”, the movie had things added to it and not taken out. This version of the movie cuts out much of the familiar and favorite dialogue from the movie released in the theater. Did you like the part where, hiding in the forest, Hawkeye & Cora have their conversation about her people being a breed apart and not making any sense? When Cora gets offended by this, Hawkeye gives her such a look and says “I would make an exception in your case, Miss” and she sarcastically says “Thank you so much!” All this is ripped out of this version. When Major Hayward and Hawkeye have their confrontation in Col. Munro’s office about whether the Colonial militia should be released from service to defend their families, gone is the part where Hawkeye looks at the Major and says “I think one day you and I are going to have a serious disagreement”. When the party is escaping from the massacre and are in the canoes on the lake, gone is the part where Hawkeye sees Major Hayward pointing a gun at him and says “Got nothing better to do on the lake today, Major?” When the party is hiding from the Hurons in the cave behind the waterfall there are some scenes and dialogue missing. Most notably when Hawkeye and Uncas and Chingachgook decide they have to flee and Cora says “I want you to go, that way if the worst happens and only one of us survives, then something of the other does too.”
This DVD can be credited with adding a few tiny bits of dialogue here and there but very little of it adds anthing to the story and does not make up for the lines that were cut. There are also some added shots of the backside of horses as they pull a coach, a few extra shots of the crowd leaving Ft. William Henry and a few extra shots of the French soldiers digging the trenches. They are not worth shelling out money for a DVD if you already have the VHS version. The only thing of real merit added in this version are shots of Major Hayward’s diversion outside Ft. William Henry while Hawkeye and Uncas are covering the escape of the courier that is being sent to get reinforcements from General Webb at Ft. Edward. If they had just added that and left the rest alone, it would have been a tiny improvement.
If you look at the original VHS tape of the theatrical release you will find the length recorded as 114 minutes. The length of this newly released, expanded edition is — now get ready to be overwhelmed — 117 minutes. This DVD is simply a major rip-off by a film company trying to get some money from extra movie sales. Unfortunately, they do not have the material to make it worth your while. Take my advice, Save Your Money!!
Rating: 1 / 5

I’m a fan of this movie, and my low rating has to do with displeasure at the director’s cut version. The original version had its problems, but Mann went overboard in trying to correct those problems and messed up the movie.

I’ve read all of the other reviews here, and people have already touched on many of the major changes in the DVD version. I won’t rehash the previous comments. I wrote this review because I don’t think anybody yet has mentioned some very important changes made to the director’s cut. Taken as a whole, this director’s cut is a significantly different movie from the original, much like how Blade Runner got changed completely. Since I don’t have a copy of the original version, I can only make comparisons from memory, so bear with me if I make some mistakes.

As a previous review noted, the intent of the director’s cut seems to have been to add more historical background and authenticity to the movie. This does give a greater richness to the movie, but at the expense of slowing the pace down noticeably. Certain scenes have lost a good deal of their original dramatic effect. I’m thinking especially of Hawkeye’s run through the meadow during the big massacre outside of the fort. In the original version, as I recall, there is a continuous camera shot of Hawkeye, running at warp speed, looking for Cora, calling out her name, and whacking Hurons left and right. Melodramatic, over-choreographed, and faintly reminiscent of a Kung Fu fight scene for sure, but that brief shot had a real kinetic energy which got you charged up and let you know in no uncertain terms how important Cora was to Hawkeye. In the new version, we see Hawkeye moving at a more realistic pace, working with Uncas and Chingachgook, and eventually finding Cora. More realistic, but also slower, choppier, and lacking the drama of the original scene.

The biggest complaint that I wanted to post here was that the love story of Uncas and Alice had its heart ripped out in this director’s cut. In the original version, the build up of their love story was very subtle, and consisted only of a few brief shots of them together. Through their body language, we can see that there is a mutual attraction, and that Uncas feels increasingly protective of Alice. These shots appear to have all been cut out. In the new version, by the time they are in the cave under the waterfall, you have no clue that Uncas and Alice have developed any sort of fondness for each other. In fact, when Uncas grabs Alice to pull her back from the entrance of the cave, and then hugs her tight, my immediate reaction was to think, hey, guy, you shouldn’t do that, how do you know that she likes you, she should haul off and sock you for making a pass at her.

This lack of development of their love story continues to trouble the director’s cut into the final fight scene. Uncas races ahead of his companions to take on Magua’s war party single handedly in a fight to the death. Why? In the original version, it was immediately obvious that he was driven by his heroic love for Alice and this love overcame his good judgement. In this director’s cut, Uncas just looks like an inexplicable idiot. Later in the final fight scene, when Alice looks down the cliff before jumping off the cliff, the original version makes it apparent that she was looking at Uncas’ lifeless body and that she jumped to join Uncas in death because she loved him. With the director’s cut, the lack of development of their love story changes the explanation for Alice’s suicide – it looks more like she is just so frightened by Magua standing in front of her with a bloody knife that she kills herself two minutes before the rescuers arrive. And so, instead of a tragic lover’s death, the director’s cut makes Alice look like an idiot also. (I think, in the original version, there was a brief shot of the two bodies side by side at the bottom of the cliff – to emphasize the original reason for Alice’s jumping off the cliff – this shot also seems to be missing from the director’s cut).

The love story of Hawkeye and Cora also suffers. In the original version, they had a lot more scenes together at the fort. Many of those as I recall were somewhat anachronistic verbal battles – very 1990’s sexual tension sort of stuff. There was also a scene of a shirtless and very buff looking Hawkeye (not the bedroom arrest scene) where it becomes instantly obvious to Cora and everyone watching the movie why this scruffy mountaineer might make for an attractive mate. Mann seems to have cut out all these scenes in the name of authenticity. But, he didn’t have any other scenes available of Hawkeye and Cora together to take their place. So, the sum total of these cuts makes Hawkeye and Cora’s feelings for each other a big mystery until all of a sudden they go off to a corner of the fort to hug and kiss. The way the kissing scene is presented is very abrupt in the new version. As I recall, in the original version, there was this long and very beautiful buildup where the two of them first size each other up while the fiddle is playing in the background.

Anyway, if you have a copy of the original version as well as the director’s cut, I’m sure that you could do a more accurate scene by scene comparison. People should know that the director’s cut takes out a lot more scenes than it adds in, making for a very different and inferior movie.
Rating: 3 / 5

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