Friday, June 3, 2011
The Last of the Mohicans-revisited.
I sat down to Last of the Mohicans for the fourth time the other night, but for the first time seeing it as a Michael Mann movie. One thing I noticed in particular was just how simple the film really is, relating both to the plot and the characters. The dialogue is sparse, the battle sequences plenty. Mann has made a very pure movie, more concerned with romance than history, and deeply intent on evoking feeling and emotion. There's a lot of macho mania going on here, too. Rather than trying to encompass the full extent of the French and Indian War, Mann decides to further train his love for the bad ass. His movie brings to mind Miami Vice, in which Mann stripped down the action movie to the bare minimum. While that movie went so far to be traditional that it essentially transcended the term, Mohicans stays a little closer to being exactly what it is. It's a wonderfully cinematic experience, a young boy's dream and an older man's passage back to the time when guns and swords were like a way of life. If I ever have a son, I will show this to him when he is very young and just let him experience it for himself. The movie is pretty kid-friendly, and whatever violence there is will be seen as just plain cool rather than a cause for haunting dreams. Barring some unexpected disaster, my son will fall in love with this movie at a very young age, and when he is older, will thank me for showing it to him. That's the point of Last of the Mohicans. It is a romance, and it forms a romance that really lasts. I adore this movie more than ever. The words Mann and masterpiece frequently go together for me, and this film is no exception. One quick note: I've stated that the late Pete Postlethwaite plays the villain, Magua. But as I watched the movie again I realized that it definitely was not Postlethwaite, but Wes Studi, an actual Cherokee. But in a scene involving the meeting between the French and the English, I noticed an English soldier in the background who looked just like Postlethwaite. He doesn't say a word, but his massive nose had me convinced it was him. I looked it up later and sure enough, it was Pete Postlethwaite. What an irony. I had the right actor, just the wrong character. Also, I mentioned how the movie isn't as detail oriented as some of Mann's other films in terms of its historical content. In an interview with The Guardian, Mann actually expressed some regret about that. I think at that time his obsession with history hadn't quite blossomed to the point of meticulous exploration. But he still made a great movie.