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June 2024
1min read


Loosely based on James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel, Michael Mann’s factually ludicrous and atmospherically compelling 1992 movie The Last of the Mohicans is and will probably forever remain the only hugely popular film ever set in the French and Indian War. To criticize The Last of the Mohicans on a historical basis, as many did upon its release, is like punching a balloon. One historian sniffed, “What could have been a great, fact-based film is instead a reasonably entertaining fantasy.” Nonsense. One could not make a fact-based film from Cooper’s book without scrapping the book and starting from scratch. Mann has pursued the opposite course: He’s plumped up the story into a full-fledged romance (in both the large and small meanings of the word) in which viewers can swoon at their first sight of a near-naked savage and learn to share the savage’s sorrow over the passing of a way of life. If the word history can’t be enlarged to include such things, perhaps moviegoers are right to prefer romance. The DVD release highlights the gorgeous, throbbing soundtrack of Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman and the spectacular set built for the siege of Fort William Henry. In no way does the movie actually depict the last of the Mohicans, who are currently running a casino in Wisconsin.

—Allen Barra

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