Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Last Of The Mohicans (1992)

Last Of The Mohicans, 1992, USA
Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Danile Day Lewis, Madeline Stowe & Steven Waddington
"My father's people say that at the birth of the sun and of his brother the moon, their mother died. So the sun gave to the earth her body, from which was to spring all life. And he drew forth from her breast the stars, and the stars he threw into the night sky to remind him of her soul."

Often the notion of complication can be mixed up with sophistication. Sometimes we a presented with complicated films (such as Inception or the Matrix) and as viewers are inaccurately lead to believe the film is sophisticated, which is not necessarily the case. I hate it when this occurs because people start to say stupid things like "Inception is like the Shining because there both 'sophisticated'" Aaaahh!
This film however, is defiantly NOT one such film. This is a detailed and elaborate film which gives an in-depth insight into US history through the awing and sophisticated story that is Last Of The Mohicans.

As the American War of Independence begins to infiltrate the lives of various different Native American tribes, three men who represent the Mohicans become unwittingly involved with the war. After siding with the falling British army, the Mohicans (one of which is actually an adopted white son) become subject to the pressures of the revolution, the British command, Magua; leader of enemy Huron tribe, and love.

This is a really good film that contains a verity of different underlying concepts and plots. The film is focus around the North American Revolution during the 18th centenary and the ideas of responsibility, honour and loyalty are all thoroughly explored through the characters and scenes concerning the war. Along with this, the relationship between rival Indian tribes is also wonderfully developed during the entirety of the film and deservingly becomes the central focus at the end of the film. These two opposing plots are equally developed and the constant overlapping of the two provides for some amazing screen adaptations. The film has been extremely well written and produced and is a credit to Mann's terrific direction.

Also to the credit of the production team behind Last Of The Mohicans, this film has been wonderfully shot. Cinematically, it's wonderful. Lighting, camera angles, the use of slow motion movement, and fast camera transitions all feel appropriate and are cleverly executed. The battle scenes between France and Britain were particularly good in the way that they presented the struggles of both sides by means of correct camera placements and swaps. I felt like I was in the trenches with the French and because of the wonderful cinematography I could feel the impacts of the explosions and gun shots. When they Mohicans are stuck under the waterfall I felt wet and trapped with them because of the dull colours and slow motion moments of characters on the screen. It's a glorious feeling when the cinematography, and miss-en-scene, of a film can make you feel like you’re actually there.

Love also plays a vital role in this film. Unlike some of my friends, I actually dig on screen love relationship but only when developed in the correct way (ie- cheesy love sucks). Whilst I can't say I’m convinced that two strangers can fall in love over the space of 3 days consisting of only 2 descent conversations, I was impressed with the development and realism of Hawkeye and Cora's relationship in the film. I was equally impressed, if not more, with the Uncas-Alice affair which, whilst subtle, is very well portrayed.
It is the level of detail given to both love stories of the film, plus the way  in which they do not compromise the two major plots (the war and the Indian rivalry) in any way that has lead to the triumphant sophistication of the film which I earlier referred too. What amazes me about all this is that despite all this overlapping and detailed film developments, I never once felt confused with the film and everything always feels in place.

Finally, the supreme acting by one of my favourite actors and a Hollywood giant greatly adds the the Last of Mohican sophisticated sceptical. Daniel Day Lewis is always awesome, but especially in this film. The character of Hawkeye is greatly portrayed by Lewis, and though I didn't really enjoy his optimistic humour at times and his ability to understand everything... always, I found him a relatable character and in my opinion it is his best performance.
Having said that, all performances are good, especially the characterisation of the sisters Cora and Alice by Madeleine Stowe and Jodhi May retrospectively. Personally I found some characters under developed but all were indeed well acted. Whist I did like the inclusion of new characters towards the end such as the Suchem, some character need and deserve more then what they were given. Having said that, I really dug Steven Waddington as Duncan; he plays a great jerk come honour man.

There is a lot of implied material in Last Of The Mohican.  Whilst I would have liked to see the better development of back stories for different characters and tribes, this film invites you to create your own back stories for them. I actually don't know why the Huron hate the Mohicans, or why the reinforcements for the British don't arrive, but what's good about the film is that, similar to other great sophisticated films like a Kubrick or Scorsese film, I guess I can make it up for myself. Because of this my viewing of the film might be very different to yours, but I would hope that we could all appreciate that no matter how you see this film, it'll always be great.


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