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The film is set in 1757 during the French and Indian War, in which the British and French battle
for control of the North American colonies. Though they are bound by law to aid the British Armies,
many colonial settlers are reluctant to leave their homes along the frontier for fear of attacks by
Huron Indians. The film opens with Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), Chingachgook (Russell Means), and Uncas
(Eric Schweig), the last of an ancient tribe called the Mohicans, as they hunt down and kill a young
buck in the forest. They then take the slain animal to the Cameron house, and join the Cameron family
in their meal. Jack, a colonial militiaman, tells Hawkeye that he is gathering volunteers for the
British army. The next morning, Jack and a group of other potential recruits decide to go to Albany
to obtain terms from General Webb, who agrees to grant them leave if their homes are attacked.
Satisfied with the terms, the volunteers travel to Fort William Henry. As Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe)
and her sister, Alice (Jodhi May) are traveling to Fort William Henry, north of Albany. They have
received word from their father, Colonel Edmund Monro, to meet him there. A native guide, Magua,
has been sent to escort them safely, along with a detachment of British soldiers, commanded by Major
Duncan Heyward (Steven Waddington). On the trail they are attacked by a small Huron band. Magua
himself initiates the attack and is aiming his rifle at Cora and Alice when the caravan is rescued
by Hawkeye and his companions. The Mohicans agree to escort the survivors to Ft. William Henry.
Along the way, they discover that the homestead belonging to the Camerons has been razed and burned
and everyone has been killed.
When they arrive at William Henry they find that the fort is under heavy attack by French forces.
They manage to sneak inside and Munro scolds his daughters for joining him. They also surmise that
the note Munro supposedly sent to Alice and Cora was a fake, intended to make them targets for Magua.
Munro gravely tells Heyward that the French are quickly approaching mortar range and that the fort
will ultimately fall. Their only hope is to get a messenger through to General Webb and ask for
reinforcements. Hawkeye and Uncas create cover for the messenger as he makes his way through the
French picket line, shooting down Indians and Frenchman at distances of over 500 yards. Munro is
confronted by Hawkeye, who tells the Colonel that settlements are being attacked by Huron war parties.
Hawkeye demands that Munro let the colonials aiding in defending the fort return to their homes.
Munro refuses and Hawkeye agrees to cover for Jack and his other friends so they can leave the fort.
Hawkeye is arrested. The fort falls to the French and Munro and his army are forced to leave. As they
march back to Albany, they are attacked by Hurons, lead by Magua. Munro himself is killed by Magua,
who, just before cutting out the Colonel’s heart, promises to kill his daughters so his family line
will not continue. Magua’s motivation for personally killing Munro is revenge; Munro is responsible
for decimating Magua’s village and family years before. Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, Uncas, and Chingachgook,
and two British soldiers, escape with Heyward to a cave behind a nearby waterfall with Magua close
behind. With all their gunpowder wet from their escape down the river, Hawkeye leaves after telling
Cora that she’ll be taken north to Huron country. He also tells her to stay alive at all costs and
that he will find her. Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook make a dramatic leap into the waterfall.
Alice, Cora and Heyward are captured and taken to a Huron village. Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook
track them there. Magua demands recognition from the Sachem in exchange for Heyward and the Munroe
sisters. The meeting is interrupted when an unarmed Hawkeye approaches, running the gauntlet in order
to earn safe passage. With Heyward translating into French, Hawkeye convinces the Sachem that Magua
is acting according to his own selfish plans rather than following Huron tradition. The Sachem agrees
and decrees that Cora will be burned alive, Alice will be given back to Magua and Heyward will be
returned to the British. Hawkeye demands that he be sacrificed in Cora’s place, however, in his
translation, Heyward offers himself instead. The Sachem agrees and Magua curses him and leaves,
with Uncas following to rescue Alice, whom he has fallen in love with. Cora is given to Hawkeye
and Heyward is tied up to be burned. After leaving the village, Hawkeye delivers a mercy shot to
Heyward, ending his suffering in the fire. Uncas is able to head off Magua and his band. The two
fight briefly, with Magua the victor. Alice, not wanting to become a slave to Magua, throws herself
from a nearby cliff. Hawkeye and Chingachgook catch up, killing several of Magua’s scouts. While
Hawkeye holds the last man at bay, Chingachgook engages Magua in hand-to-hand combat. Chingachgook
wins the fight, killing Magua. The last scene of the film shows Chingachgook and Hawkeye engaging
in a spiritual ritual. With the death of Uncas, his one blood relative, Chingachgook names himself
'the last of the Mohicans'.
Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Wes Studi, Russell Means, |
Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Patrice Cheréau,
Director: Michael Mann
Producers: Michael Mann & Hunt Lowry
Year Released - Sept. 1992
Length - 112 minutes
Randy Edelman, Trevor Jones & Daniel Lanois
Movie Distributed by 20th Century Fox
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