The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's classic novel, although it owes more to George B. Seitz's 1936 film adaptation than the source novel. The main cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Eric Schweig and Jodhi May.
The soundtrack features music by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, and the song "I Will Find You" by Clannad. The film won an Academy Award for Sound. The main theme of the movie is taken from the tune "The Gael" by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean.
In 1757, the British and French are battling for control of North America in the French and Indian War. Though the colonists are bound by law to join the militia to aid the British, many of them are reluctant to leave their homes and families defenseless.
Chingachgook (Russell Means), his son Uncas (Eric Schweig), and Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), his adopted white son, visit the Cameron household. Jack Winthrop (Edward Blatchford) tells Hawkeye that he is gathering volunteers for the British army. The next morning, Jack and a group of others go to Albany, New York, to obtain terms from General Webb, who agrees to grant them leave if their homes are attacked. Satisfied, they join the British forces at Fort William Henry, sixty miles north of Albany.
Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) and her sister Alice (Jodhi May) have received word from their father, Colonel Edmund Munro (Maurice Roëves), the commander of the British garrison at the fort, to meet him there. A native guide named Magua (Wes Studi) and a detachment of British soldiers commanded by Major Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington) escort the women on the trail. However, they are ambushed by Hurons led by Magua himself. Heyward, Cora and Alice are rescued by Hawkeye and his companions, who have been tracking the war band. Magua prepares to shoot Cora, but Hawkeye forces him to flee. The rescuers reluctantly agree to escort the survivors to Fort William Henry. Along the way, they discover that the Cameron homestead has been razed and everyone killed, though nothing has been stolen, a sure sign of a war party.
They find Fort William Henry under siege by the French, but manage to sneak inside. When Munro scolds his daughters for joining him, they realize that Magua has deceived them for some unknown reason. Munro tells Heyward that the fort can only hold out for three more days. Their only hope is to get a messenger through to General Webb at nearby Fort Edward for reinforcements.
When Hawkeye tells the colonials about the attack on the Camerons, they demand to be released to go defend their homes, as General Webb had agreed. Munro refuses, so Hawkeye helps Jack and his friends desert. Hawkeye, who stays behind to be with Cora, is arrested for sedition and sentenced to hang.
Several days pass. As the fort is on the verge of falling, the French commander, General Montcalm (Patrice Chéreau) offers Munro generous surrender terms. The garrison and their families are offered safe passage to Albany, on condition they return to England and no longer fight in the war. Munro reluctantly accepts, after Montcalm shows him an intercepted message from Webb in which he refuses to send aid.
As the British march away, they are ambushed by a much larger force of Hurons led by Magua. To avenge his family, Magua personally cuts out Munro's heart, but not before telling Munro that he will kill his daughters so that his family line will be extinguished. Earlier, it is revealed that Magua’s village had been destroyed years ago by Munro's soldiers, resulting in the death of his children and his wife marrying another man when she thought Magua was dead. Magua himself was made a slave.
Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, Uncas, Chingachgook, Heyward and two other soldiers escape to a cave behind a waterfall. With their gunpowder wet, Hawkeye and his two companions jump into the water, knowing their presence would precipitate a hopeless fight. Before escaping, Hawkeye promises Cora that he will find her no matter what happens. Heyward and the two women are captured.
The prisoners are taken to a Huron village, with Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook in pursuit. Magua is bargaining with the sachem when they are interrupted by the arrival of an unarmed Hawkeye running the gauntlet of hostile warriors. With Heyward translating, Hawkeye convinces the chief that Magua is acting for himself, rather than in the Hurons' interests. The chief agrees and renders his judgment: Cora is to be burned alive to atone for Magua's dead children; Magua is given Alice to be his wife so that both bloodlines can continue, although as Magua stated early in the film, he means to kill the bloodline of Munro. Heyward is to be returned to the British in the hope of avoiding reprisals; and Hawkeye is given safe passage in recognition of his bravery. Desperate, Hawkeye pleads to take Cora’s place. Heyward deliberately mistranslates, offering himself instead. When the chief accepts, Magua curses him and leaves with Alice and his men.
Uncas immediately follows the war band, while Chingachgook waits for Hawkeye. From a safe distance, Hawkeye, in a mercy killing, shoots Heyward as he is being burned at the stake. They then set off in pursuit of Magua.
Uncas catches up with Magua's band alone. He kills several men before engaging Magua in single combat. Magua kills Uncas, dropping his body off a cliff. Alice then throws herself off the cliff. Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Cora witness the deaths of their loved ones from a distance. Catching up, the two men slay several warriors. As Hawkeye holds the rest at bay, Chingachgook duels Magua and avenges his son. With the death of his last blood relative, Chingachgook names himself "the last of the Mohicans".
- Daniel Day-Lewis - Hawkeye/Nathaniel Bumppo
- Madeleine Stowe - Cora Munro
- Russell Means - Chingachgook
- Eric Schweig - Uncas
- Jodhi May - Alice Munro
- Steven Waddington - Maj. Duncan Heyward
- Wes Studi - Magua
- Maurice Roëves - Col. Edmund Munro
- Patrice Chéreau - Gen. Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
- Edward Blatchford - Jack Winthrop
- Terry Kinney - John Cameron
- Tracey Ellis - Alexandra Cameron
- Justin M. Rice - James Cameron
- Dennis Banks - Ongewasgone
- Pete Postlethwaite - Capt. Beams
- Colm Meaney - Maj. Ambrose
- Mac Andrews - Gen. Daniel Webb
While the film, like the novel, is more of a historical romance, much care was taken with recreating accurate costumes and props. ABS Master Bladesmith Daniel Winkler made the tomahawks used in the film and knifemaker Randall King made the knives. The film features a Fort William Henry reconstructed based on historical documents. The siege of the fort is a good representation of the siege warfare of the 18th century epitomized by General Montcalm's investment of Fort William Henry and the large scale military actions that marked the latter phase of the French and Indian War.
Col. Munro's real name was George, not Edmund. He also did not die in the massacre, but in Albany three months later. He fled to the forest with other survivors and showed up at Fort Edward a few days later.
The movie implies that the Huron tribe were responsible for the massacre yet in reality, several tribes were involved, included the Abenaki and Penobscot. It is also implied that Magua was responsible for initiating the attack; however, no individual was responsible.
Montcalm may have caused the massacre by not allowing his Indian allies to take the spoils of war from the defeated English, but he was said to have been disgusted by it. He and several other French officers came out of the fort towards the end of the fighting and tried to stop the massacre. He even paid the ransom demands for some of the captives with his own money.
Despite the film taking place in upstate New York, according to the film credits, it was filmed mostly on location in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Locations used include Lake James, Chimney Rock Park and The Biltmore Estate. Some of the waterfalls that were used in the movie include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and High Falls located in the DuPont State Forest. Another of these falls were Linville Falls, in the mountains of North Carolina.
The Last of the Mohicans opened to wide acclaim, with critics praising the film for its cinematography and music. Critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "...quite an improvement on Cooper's all but unreadable book, and a worthy successor to the Randolph Scott version," going on to say that "The Last of the Mohicans is not as authentic and uncompromised as it claims to be — more of a matinee fantasy than it wants to admit — but it is probably more entertaining as a result." However, some reviewers panned the film, such as The Washington Post's Desson Howe, who called the movie "glam-opera" and "the MTV version of gothic romance". Howe added that, while "Day-Lewis doesn't act so much as bare himself, fire flintlocks, and pose in picturesque positions," the film was "stirring". Another reviewer, The Washington Post's Rita Kempley, recognized the heavy drama, writing that the film "sets new standards when it comes to pent-up passion", but commented positively on the "spectacular scenery".
The Last of the Mohicans is certified "Fresh" at the film site Rotten Tomatoes, with a positive rating of 97% (28 reviews out of 29 counted fresh).
The film opened in the United States on September 25, 1992 in 1,856 theaters. By the end of its first weekend The Last of the Mohicans had generated $10,976,661, and by the end of its domestic run the film had made $75,505,856.
Director's Expanded Edition
A "Director's Expanded Edition" was released in which Michael Mann trimmed or removed material and some additional footage was inserted, increasing overall run time by 3 minutes. The new material was often intercut within the original theatrical sequences. The violence is slightly occluded, although more detail is given to battle scenes. The Clannad song was removed from the film altogether, but still listed in the song credits. A small amount of the added footage was included in a 1996 CBS network television airing.
- The Last of the Mohicans (album)
- Battle of Fort William Henry
- Roger Ebert (September 25, 1992). The Last of The Mohicans. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
- Desson Howe (September 25, 1992). The Last of The Mohicans. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
- Rita Kempley (September 25, 1992). The Last of The Mohicans. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
- Rotten Tomatoes (March 18, 2007). Freshness count. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.
- Box Office Mojo (March 18, 2007). The Last of The Mohicans. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2007-03-18.