Saturday, September 5, 2015

Last Mann

Can you believe I've never seen an Michael Mann movie? Mostly he's not my kind of thing, but for some reason, I wanted to see The Last of the Mohicans (1992). I think it started after I watched those Lost Legion movies: Centurion and The Eagle. The whole Romans v. Pict reminded me of colonists and Indians, so I queued up a bunch of movies that I didn't watch, until now (remember what I said about Netflix sending me more movies than expected, dropping into the odd part of my queue? That.)

I think I got what I wanted: rousing adventure, romance, cool Indian costumes, makeup, and hairdos. Daniel Day-Lewis is handsome and heroic and his companions, Russell Means as Chingachgook and Eric Schweig as Uncas are noble. There is a lot of nobility, as when General Munro surrenders the fort and is allowed to retreat, or when a British soldier demands to be tortured by the Hurons in place of the General's daughter.

There are some great set pieces like the siege of the fort, or the canoe chase through the mist. The look of the film was beautiful too, with a lot of misty primordial scenery. There's some nice long rifle work to admire as well. But there is a lot of silliness too: Day-Lewis' character, known in Fennimore Cooper's books as Leatherstocking and Hawk-eye, or by his real name, Natty Bumpo, has the more dignified monicker of Nathaniel Poe in the movie. The plot seems to call for him to run away a lot - sure, he comes back to rescue the ladies later, but it's not always clear that he couldn't have rescued them right there.

Well, it isn't supposed to be realistic - see Mark Twain's essay on Cooper's shortcomings as a novelist. It was still fun, exciting and beautiful. In conclusion, we might or might not follow up with Squanto: A Warrior's Tale.

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