The Last Of The Mohicans

The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi
Extras: Commentary Track, Making-Of Featurette, Trailer

Based on James Fenimore Cooper's classic novels from the "Leatherstocking" series, director Michael Mann took the second book in the quintology as the source for his epic adventure movie, "The Last Of The Mohicans" to turn it into a powerful movie. A great frontier adventure, playing during the Colonial Wars, a time when not only French and British soldiers were fighting each other over territory in America, but also were Indians tried to find their own place in this rapidly changing world of white man politics and rifles.

After a few expository minutes, the film dives right into the events when the British Army recruits colonial trappers for their purpose and sends them North to defend their forts against the French troops. Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his brothers from the tribe of the Mohicans are mostly unattached to the warfare, but become entangled in the politics when a group of travelers is attacked and slaughtered by Huron Indians. Despite all odds, three people survive the bloody massacre, thanks to Hawkeye's intervention – Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe), her sister and Duncan Heyward, a coward and arrogant major of the army.

Hawkeye takes them safely North through war-ridden territory, constantly avoiding French scouts and Huron war parties, to meet the girls' father in the safety of a British fort. During their strenuous travel through the forests, Cora learns much about Hawkeye and life on the frontier in general. Slowly, she understands what it must be like to live in harmony with nature, away from the so-called civilization the British upper class is trying to impress upon them. But as they arrive at the fort, it becomes quickly evident it is inevitably doomed. Besieged by the French, the men in the fort are waiting for reinforcements that will never come, and soon the British have to give up the Fort and surrender to the French soldiers. Upon their desperate retreat from the battlefield, hoping to save their lives, however, the Hurons are already lying in wait in the shadows of the thick forests, ready to kill and plunder everyone alive.

Considering how well told the novel of the same name is, it is hard to create a fully satisfactory film version of "The Last Of The Mohicans" that pays proper tribute to the literary background as well as the cinematic demands of movie dramaturgy. Fortunately, director Michael Mann managed to translate Cooper's rich language into images and characters that are just as rich and captivating. With beautiful landscapes, a heartfelt dramatic storyline and well-written dialogues, the movie feels authentic, despite the fact that it is somewhat romanticized to increase its overall mainstream appeal.

"The Last Of The Mohicans" features a great cast with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead as Hawkeye, the rugged frontiersman adopted by the Mohicans. But also Madeleine Stowe convinces as the daughter of aristocratic British upbringing who slowly learns the different values and interests of the different people in the New World. Wes Studi as Magua, the dark Huron warrior is oozing menace every second he is on the screen, and even his invisible presence in many scenes casts a phenomenally ominous shadow over the story.

Coming to high definition for the first time, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is delivering "The Last Of The Mohicans" in a marvelous 1080p transfer on this Blu-Ray Disc. The transfer is particularly memorable, as the film had never even been available in an anamorphic DVD transfer before. Reveling in absolutely breathtaking details and textures, and awash in stunning colors, this transfer finally gives the movie the presentation it deserved. Arriving as the Director's Cut version that adds about 15 additional scenes to the film, you will be transported to the frontier in a heartbeat and forget that you are sitting in your living room. "The Last Of The Mohicans" has never looked better – not really a hard thing to beat as past presentations were shoddy at best – but what's more, it probably looks the best it possibly can, as the transfer is practically flawless and brings out everything in Michael Mann's masterpiece of a film.

And if the video presentation won't fully do the job to hypnotize you, the DTS 5.1 HD MAster Audio track sure will. Powerful and remarkable aggressive, the track offers an incredible frequency response with solid bass extension and clear high ends. The dynamic range makes sure there is proper power, headroom and balance in the entire mix, giving you an experience that is hard to top.

The release contains a commentary track by director Michael Mann. To finally have bonus materials accompany the film is truly a boon, though it has to be pointed out, I believe that Mann does not make for engaging commentaries – never did. This one is no exception, as the director has a tendency to play his cards close to his vest and state the obvious. In fact, the material sounds a bit rehearsed, which becomes even more evident when his soundbites are almost exactly the same ones in the "Making Of" featurette that accompanies the disc also. Fortunately, the featurette offers interviews with other cast members also, including Daniel Day-Lewis, and makes up for the somewhat flat Mann that way.

It is impossible not to recommend this Blu-Ray version of "The Last Of The Mohicans." It is a perfect example for how great a filmmaker Mann used to be, how he managed to make stories incredibly exciting and their emotions palpable. With that in mind, I urge you to go and check out this disc. You will lvoe every moment of it.