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The Last of the Mohicans - a 1992 film - but still a great gift for the adventure and history lover
Lake George looking north from the area around Fort William Henry. Typical of the view James Fennimore Cooper would have enjoyed. Oil on canvas (c.1859).
Portrays a Small Slice of the French - Indian War: Capture of Ft. William Henry, Surrender and Massacre of hundreds of British troops and Civilians
The Last of the Mohicans - 1992 - What's not to Love?
"The Last of the Mohicans," the 1992 Daniel Day-Lewis version, is my perfect movie to curl up with when I hanker for a flight of imagination. Even though, my family members consistently tease me with "What? Are you watching that movie again?" I keep returning to it.
My son began a job in the Lake George area just about the time the movie came out. I've been fortunate enough to visit him in this historically rich area over the last 20 years from western Massachusetts and now Virginia. These visits allow me the luxury of exploring the area and achieving an enthusiast's view of both the movie and James Fenimore Cooper's book.
On the plus side of "what's to love," is:
- the scenery and music are breathtaking;
- there is great action, adventure, drama and romance; and
- the weapons, costuming, and gear are correct for the times.
On the negative side is:
- acting , that at times, is melodramatic and stereotypical; and
- it deviates, often in big ways, from James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 popular novel.
"The Last of the Mohicans" is full of well-directed and acted action and adventure. This Daniel Day-Lewis version was a runaway success in 1992 just about the time my son's job took him to the Lake George region of the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York state. The action and adventure of "The Last of the Mohicans" took place in the area surrounding modern-day Lake George Village and a reconstructed Fort William Henry at the southern end of the Lake. Fort Edward is now an Adirondack village and the only things indicating its part in the "Last of the Mohicans" era the name and historical markers throughout the village and on Rangers Island.
A Battle of the French and Indian War. This artwork shows how the struggles between Natives and Whites might have looked.
Colonial America in Silent Films into the 21st Century
The Film and the Book
Locations and Music
The filming locations and music are spectacular. This movie won an Oscar for the best sound and the musical score is a widely acclaimed work of modern film music. Unfortunately, the area around Fort William Henry is so built up and radically changed that filming for this 1992 movie took place in other areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and around Asheville, NC. The most dramatic film parts were done at Chimney Rock Park and in the DuPont State forest in North Carolina.
"The Last of the Mohicans" is the second of Cooper's five Leatherstocking tales and without a doubt still the most popular. Unfortunately, it is ponderous and a bear to read. The movie cuts to the heart of the book's emotions and adds some of its own. It is, according to movie critic Roger Ebert "...quite an improvement on Cooper's all but unreadable book, and a worthy successor to the Randolph Scott (movie) version." Ebert goes on to say that " 'The Last of the Mohicans' is not as authentic and uncompromised as it claims to be — more of a matinee fantasy than it wants to admit — but it is probably more entertaining."
Traditional sources say that according to Susan Fenimore Cooper, the author's daughter, her father perceived the idea for this book when he was showing the Hudson River caves and falls at Glens Falls in 1825 to visiting Englishmen including Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby. Smith-Stanley suggested to Cooper that "here was the very scene for a romance." Cooper promised Stanley that such a book should and could actually be written. A dam built later in the 1800s now submerges this Glens Falls location.
"The Last of the Mohicans" (1992) was directed by Michael Mann and starred Daniel Day-Lewis (Hawkeye), Madeleine Stowe (Cora), Russell Means (Chingachgook), Eric Schweig (Uncas) and Wes Studi (Magua). It is available in different DVD formats including Blu-Ray. The musical score is also available in different formats and as recordings by different artists.
Adirondack Park and "Last of the Mohicans"
I treasure my moments of poking around the Adirondack Park and imagining what took place in this contested area. Threats today are not Indians, Red Coats or French Regulars, but speedboats and traffic on the Interstate. Portions of the old roads and paths are hidden in the woods. Remains of the old forts are there if one knows where to look. And fortunately for me, my son still works in the neighborhood of the old Fort William Henry.
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm trying to stop Native Americans from attacking British soldiers and civilians as they leave Fort William Henry at the Battle of Fort W
Gifts for the Armchair Historian
Three more action-packed movies that are based loosely on history and / or books. They might make great gifts for an armchair historian with a sense of humor. I've enjoyed them all:
- Dances with Wolves, and
- The Patriot.
"The Gael" - "Last of the Mohicans" theme scored by Dougie Maclean.
Music Videos and MP3 Renditions for "The Last of the Mohicans"
Videos and MP3 renditions featuring the musical score of "The Last of the Mohicans" - 1992 version - abound. The musical theme ingrained in the soundtrack is reminiscent of Gaelic folk music which would have been familiar to the times and customs of the British frontier in the 1750s.
"The Gael" originally scored by Scottish folk musician Dougie MacLean is woven throughout the soundtrack and often referred to as "The Last of the Mohicans" theme. The full soundtrack and variations of "The Gael" are easy to find. They feature groups like
- The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards,
- The Edinburgh Military Tattoo - 2008 ,
- Caledonia - street drummers - in Edinburgh,
- Other military music groups, and
- Other Traditional Wind Instruments.
Excellent Rendition of "The Gael" - Pipes and Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo - 2008 - featuring a violin solo. I like the finished polish of this group's performances.
Clanadonia, a back to the future sidewalk performance group. Their rough sound is a matter of individual taste.
The Buxton (UK) Military Tatto do a yearly charitable performance for a military group.
"The Gael" Performed on Uilleann Pipes
Uilleann pipes are national of Ireland, not Scotland. They differ from many other forms of bagpipes by their tone and wide range of note. This somewhat different musical structure sounds sweeter and quieter than many other bagpipes, such as the Great Irish Warpipes and Great Highland Bagpipes. The uilleann pipes are often played indoors, and are almost always played sitting down.
"The Gael" performed on Uilleann pipes - good music and a good video as well.
Irish Whistles and Celtic Music
The Irish whistle is also known by many names: tin whistle, penny whistle, English flageolet, Scottish penny whistle, tin flageolet, feadóg stáin (or simply feadóg) and Clarke London Flageolet. It is closely aligned with Celtic music and is another instrument used to play the theme from "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Gael."