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Last Of The Mohicans, The (Director's Definitive Cut) (1992) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Image“The Last Of The Mohicans” is an epic tale, based on the James Fennimore Cooper novel of the same title.  It is bold and dramatic.  This film and “Dances With Wolves” are two of a kind.  While the film may be of epic proportions, it ultimately is simply average when you really think about it.

The film doesn’t have a strong cohesive factor.  It jumps around from scene to scene, getting tighter as the film progresses.  However, for the first act of the film you have to wonder what is the motivation here.  While I certainly don’t want everything to be obvious from the start, this film loses audiences to simple questions, like “who is that character?”  “What was there name again?”  Good luck trying to identify characters by name in this film.  This is partially due to the audio track as mentioned below.

The story takes place in the mid 18th century, during the French and Indian War between France and Britain over control of North America.  War Parties, warrior Indians that ambush traveling parties overrun the trails.  Allied with the French, the war parties brutally slaughter British soldiers and defenseless women and children.  As the daughters of British Colonel Munro are being led to Fort McHenry to be reunited with their father.

The fort is under siege and the British need reinforcements.  Meanwhile the American militia is denied the right to return to their settlements to protect their families from the brutality of the War Parties.

So where does “The Last Mohican” come into play.  Daniel Day-Lewis, who really isn’t the last Mohican if you really pay attention to the film, portrays Hawkeye, a white man raised by the Mohicans.  He becomes the unofficial savior and guide for the Munro sisters.  He is also indifferent to the war, but always in favor of the militia’s rights to return home.

Magua is the most savage leader of the War Parties and explains his vendetta against “The Grey Hair.”  His hatred for the British in general is cliché, but the film’s dramatic atmosphere allows this cliché behavior to pass.
“The Last Of The Mohicans” is certainly does not hold up as well nearly 20 years after its release, but there is always a place for it in cinematic history.

What kept me from being truly engaged in the film was not the lack of cohesiveness, it was the lack of a truly great video transfer.  While many of the issues appear to be attributed to Michael Mann’s directorial style, the overall image leaves much to be desired.  The contrast level is weak, leading many scenes to lack resolution.  Nighttime sequences are all but lost.  Unresolved blacks sink any detail that might be present in the shadows.  Night shots appear gray instead of dark.  Details are improved from the standard DVD, but they are far from high-definition quality.  The forest lacks any type of true detail.  Leaves and branches blur together in most of the sequences.  Textures are also improved but don’t pop as well as they should.  The intact film grain is what provides texture for this image.  Edges are blurred, which I still prefer over edge enhancement.  Colors are bold.  The red coats of the British can always be seen in detail.  The greens of the forest are not top notch, but they hold up fairly well.  In the end, the film could definitely look better, but fans will appreciate this upgrade for what it is.

I was really looking for to the audio track for this film as Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman produced an all-time film score, one that is severely underestimate in my opinion.  In fact, try staying engaged during this film without the music.  It really is the music that carries this film, both in drama and runtime.  Unfortunately, this lossless audio track brings out all the sound design and editing issues with the film.  The original audio was in Dolby Stereo, and it seems the 6-track audio stream from the 70mm print release of the film was used for this Blu-ray release.  The surround channels don’t have a lot of discreet placement, in fact I can’t really think of one instance.  However, bleed into the rear channels makes the battle sequences a bit enveloping, but far from immersive.  The LFE channel needed to be perfect in this film with the score and the cannon fires.  While it is adequate, it lacks the bottom octave, which provides the true thunder in the LFE channel.  Still, the LFE and sub will wake the neighbors so be cautious.  The dialogue is obscured half the time by sound effects and music.  This is due to the original mix, but the lossless audio track brings out this dialogue loss even more since there is no frequency masking (which ultimately makes dialogue more clear in Dolby Digital).  Sound effects are in the style of Michael Mann, but there are a bit frequency-limited.  As I mentioned above, the music score is the center of attention when it comes to the audio track.  And in fact, the music has been mixed more upfront than is typical.  A music-only track would have been preferred by me.  The lossless the audio track also brings out all the rough audio transitions, numerous audio dropouts, etc.  So, while I love the score, the overall audio experience is not up to par.

This a new Director’s Cut of the film, though you would be hard-pressed to notice any changes.  In terms of special features, there are but two.  There is an audio commentary with director Michael Mann.  This track is informative but can be spotty at times.  The other feature is a new making-of featurette.  This featurette runs about 45 minutes and covers much of the film’s story and production.  While a great documentary, I am disappointed that there is not post-production process information.  Trailers are also included.

“The Last Of The Mohicans” is an epic drama that will remain a part of many avid movie fans’ collections.  Being a Michael Mann film the video and audio are rough, and that style is enhanced by the audio and video qualities.  Still, I get the sense that more could have been done with the audio and video.  I recommend this title for fans.

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