Monday, July 2, 2012
Drums Along the Mohawk. B+
If you're looking for a good film to watch for Fourth of July, John Ford's Drums Along the Mohawk isn't a bad choice. The film is a frontier adventure, but rather than idealizing that time it realistically presents a newlywed couple (played by Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert) and their struggle to build a home amidst the American revolution. The structure of the film cans seem repetitive-the couple builds a home, Indians attack, repeat, and repeat again-but this is most likely the way it would have been during the revolution. The fact that a home cannot be maintained is arguably the greatest struggle, particularly for mothers and children. Drums Along the Mohawk, while devoid of any truly compelling drama, is still expertly made, with long, pretty shots of the countryside (it's Ford's first color feature), a colorful batch of supporting characters (as expected in a John Ford film) and of course a strong moral core around which the film is built. That being said, there was one slightly ambiguous scene in which a priest shoots a fellow solider who is tied to a burning wagon. Remember one of the chief moral enigmas in Last of the Mohicans was when Hawkeye performs a similar action for Duncan. Here I suppose it's even more interesting because it's a priest who is committing the action. I suppose the main difference though is that the scene in Mohicans was meant to have an almost visceral impact, whereas here we just get the priest later lamenting that he killed a man. We definitely know who he is talking about.