The Weekend Watch: The Last of the Mohicans

So each week, I pay homage to a film and bestow upon it a spot on the coveted Weekend Watch list.  This highlighted film is one that makes us stop what we are doing every time we come across it on television or when scanning the home film library. And without fail, this installment has the full package: acting, direction, cinematography and a soaring soundtrack. Ladies and Gentleman, this week’s Weekend Watch goes to – The Last of the Mohicans.

According to IMDB:

In 18th century North America during the French and Indian War, a white man adopted by the last members of a dying tribe called the Mohicans unwittingly becomes the protector of the two daughters of a British colonel, who have been targeted by Magua, a sadistic and vengeful Huron warrior who has dedicated his life to destroying the girls’ father for a past injustice.

The Cast

Not to be terribly clichéd here, but Daniel Day Lewis absolutely owns the film. The irony of this The Last of the Mohicanssentiment is that we do not meet his character, Hawkeye/Nathaniel Poe, until roughly 20 minutes into the film.  Once we do meet him, however, he never let’s the audience get too far away.

His romantic interest in this sweeping epic is Madeline Stowe’s Cora Munro.  Stowe’s character is something of an anomaly in this day and age – a woman coming into her own independence, owning and wielding her free will in a land that is wild and untamed. This is a stellar performance by Stowe, and I must admit to having fallen a little bit in love with her the first time I saw this film.

Two more supporting actors must be acknowledged here in my opinion, even though the acting throughout is exceptional. First, Steven Waddington who plays Major Duncan Hayward provides an excellent foil for Day Lewis’ Hawkeye. His struggle to follow orders and tradition in this new world that does not live by the same rules is fantastic to watch. And the final actor I feel compelled to acknowledge is Wes Studhi, whose brutal and unflinching portrayal of the Huron warrior Magua still gives me a shiver.

Direction/Cinematography

Despite the two films previous, we first got wind of how good Michael Mann would be with the 1986 psychological thriller Manhunter, a story based on the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon.  The film was our first introduction to the character Hannibal Lecter, though Anthony Hopkins did not serve as Lecter.  With Mohicans, Mann pushes himself from his previous smaller confined films to a grandiose, almost sweeping epic. In large part, this can also be contributed to the wonderful cinematography work of Dante Spinotti. He captures the glorious landscape of the new frontier – which in reality was the lush North Carolina state forest.

Soundtrack

Personally, I cannot overstate how much I love the score of this film. Trevor Jones? Randy Edelman? Don’t know who was more responsible for the soundtrack, and frankly, I don’t care. I think it might just be perfect.  Let’s just leave it at that.

 

It’s hard to believe that the Last of the Mohicans is 20 years old. The film premiered in 1992 – Jesus, 20 years! – and there is so much to love about it. Sure, you could classify this as just “A guy’s movie.” But, I know many-a-female out there who not only agree with me on the soundtrack, but also find Daniel Day Lewis pretty easy on the eyes. In my opinion, it is truly deserving of its Weekend Watch status.

Do you have a favorite film that you would like to nominate for the Weekend Watch? Leave your comments below, and maybe the Grand Poobah will review it in the next week’s edition! Looking forward to seeing your nominations…

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