Movie of the Week: The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)

Michael Mann directs Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline Stowe and Wes Studi in this historical romance epic set in 1757 during the French and Indian War.

Rousing adventure. Immersive world building. Hot romance. History lesson. Pretty much the full cup. Mann’s adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumpo classic is impeccably crafted. A bouquet of set-pieces that play out like quality, high-end drama. Militia attacks, fort sieges, sniper-assisted runs, terrain tracking, declarations of love, sacrifice. Oof! It plays every button on your keyboard with the exception of comedy. Maybe the only reason Braveheart is the slightly better spin on this recipe is the fact Mel’s epic finds time for a few more laughs.

There are three fantastic performances. Day-Lewis is a given. This might be his least abrasive, most accessible turn. He completely convinces in the dashing about / hand-to-hand combat cliffhangers. Stowe brings a sensual intensity, her chemistry with our hero is tangible in every interaction. This is a romance that needs minimal dialogue to express its power. Wes Studi’s villainous Magua is the deepest character. His taciturn speech and face manages to sell the nuances and emotions of the character in small minor tremors. He is a formidable antagonist but one whose fanaticism and resolve is never undersold or entirely unsympathetic. When Magua is onscreen bad things happen, not unjustifiably.

Period drama feels a little outside of Michael Mann’s wheelhouse. Sure, the men here often live by strict codes and have preternatural abilities but usually when we watch Mann he is urban and on the edge of the future. Strange that his second finest film feels like such an outlier. Dante Spinotti’s cinematography does an excellent job of selling us the past without ever betraying the artificiality of the construct. Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman’s swooning, diddly-dee-ing score might just be one of the finest ever committed to cinema. Wolf Kroeger’s authentic production design is career best work – and that man built the Popeye village! Just perfect, something for everyone, blockbuster cinema.


Perfect Double Bill: The Crucible (1996)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here


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