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Movie Review

The Last of the Mohicans

MPAA Rating: R for graphic violence

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
Genre:
Historical Drama
Length:
1 hr. 54 min.
Year of Release:
1992
USA Release:
_____
Cover Graphic from Last of the Mohicans
Featuring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May
Director: Michael Mann
Producer: _____
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

This James Fennimore Cooper novel has been filmed about six times. This 1992 version has a historically realistic feel and features some lush outdoor photography.

In 1757, the British and French are at war for control of eastern North America; the Mohicans are allied with the British while their old enemies the Hurons side with the French. Nathaniel/Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), the white adopted son of the Mohican Chingatchgook (Russell Means), tries to stay out of the conflict; but he, his father, and his brother Uncas (Eric Schweig) are pulled deeply into it when they rescue the daughters of British Col. Munro from a Huron ambush.

There is almost no profanity (an occasional d* and h*, which have been standard content in war movies since before there was a rating system). And there’s no sexual content, unless we assume that a tryst between Hawkeye and Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) went beyond the kissing and hugging that’s shown onscreen. The R rating is for a large amount of graphic war-related violence including massacring of women and children, scalping, a scene of a man’s heart being cut out while he’s still alive etc. The Huron warrior Magua (Wes Studi, who also played a “bad guy” Indian in “Dances With Wolves”) is consumed with hatred for the British and the Mohicans; but if what he says happened to him and his family is true, this is somewhat understandable. As Hawkeye says: “Magua’s heart is twisted, and he’s become what twisted him.” We are reminded that unless the cycle of violence and revenge is broken by forgiveness, it just begets more of the same.

Except for the unrealistic kill ratio and charmed lives of some of the heroes, and a few corny feats (such as Hawkeye killing two men by firing two muzzle-loading rifles at once, from his hips, while running along a mountain ledge trail), the film probably gives us a realistic picture of frontier life. It’s a good adaptation of a good classic novel; but that doesn’t make it family entertainment. The comic book company “Classics Illustrated” went out of business because if they produced a faithful adaptation of a violent novel such as this story or “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the imagery would upset younger readers; but if they produced a “softened” version, the literary purists would protest that they were tampering with the author’s intent. After putting out two and sometimes three versions of a number of novels, they finally gave up. The point is, SEEING something is different from just reading it and forming your own mental image. And any problem with a comic book version is multiplied tenfold in a movie with modern special effects. This film is definitely not for children.


Viewer Comments
This is one of those movies, in spite of the “R” rating that I would consider in the top 5 all-time movies. I would think that it is probably a pretty accurate depiction of the times. The desperation of Hawkeye when he is running after the Munroe women after they have been taken by Magua is almost breath-taking. The movie could do without the love scene between Hawkeye and Cora, but the rest of the movie is filled with lots of action and some incredible scenery and the music score is terrific. If you have surround sound, you will love the scenes at the fort when the French are attacking and the mortars and cannons are firing. A must see! My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Dennis Willows, age 49
Since becoming a Christian, I have probably watched only 5 R-rated movies. Three were garbage, but this movie, and “Braveheart” are the only ones that I would recommend. It is most certainly not a children’s movie. My 16 year old has seen it, as has my 14 year old. I have an 11 year old, to whom violence is still cartoon-like, so I will not let him watch this for some time. This movie is not for the weak of heart. There are still some parts, after watching it about 8 times, that I have not seen. I have a hard time dealing with violence, but this movie has so much more to offer; that it has become a favorite. The scenery is beautiful. The actors are incredible. You are not prejudiced towards one race or the other, but are given the good and bad of each. You are very much drawn into the plot of the story, and feel the emotions of the players. You feel Hawkeye’s desire to remain neutral, but know that because he is a man of integrity, that he cannot. You feel the hatred in Magua’s heart, but pity him for it. I highly recommend this movie, not just for the historical aspect, but for the fact that it is a fine movie. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—G. Holleman, age 37
This is the only R-Rated film I consider worthy of owning as a Christian. The good characters are pure good, and morality and nobility are exalted. In a world filled with war, there is much pain, and difficult decisions push some otherwise good characters past their limit, while causing one otherwise unimpressive character to give his life in a final act of “atonement”. There is romantic passion in this story, but not to the extent that anyone could call sin. There is violence, but the movie is set in a time of the French and Indian Wars. There is treachery, but also just retribution (“Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap”). This is one of my favorite movies, as it portrays very well the determined courage and wild freedom of those who risked all to make this land great. Our children will not see this until they are in their teens, when we will watch it in the context of American history, not all of which is pretty. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Ben Stephenson, age 31