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THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
(Director’s Definitive Cut)

My first cinematic encounter with James Fennimore Cooper's classic novel THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS was the 1920 silent version of the film starring Wallace Beery. I found the 1920 edition of the story to be such an incredible motion picture that it initially left me somewhat reluctant to see director Michael Mann's 1992 take on THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS ($30). Although, it is the same basic story, Mann's impressive visuals give Cooper's story new life, thus creating another impressive motion picture from this often-adapted literary work. This version of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS makes the most of a wide screen canvas to convey the natural beauty of a wild, unspoiled America, in the days before it became an independent nation.

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is set in the colonial era during the French and Indian War, and tells the story of Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), the white, adopted son of a noble Mohican Indian. As the film opens, the British forces are trying to enlist the help of the American colonials against an army of the French and their Indian allies. It is during these unsafe times that Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) and her sister Alice (Jodhi May) travel with British troops, so that they might be reunited with their father Colonel Edmund Munro (Maurice Roëves), who is in command of Fort William-Henry. However, before reaching the fort, the British soldiers are lead into an Indian ambush by the treacherous Huron Magua (Wes Studi), who has a personal score to settle with Colonel Munro.

Hawkeye, his adoptive father Chingachgook (Russell Means) and brother Uncas (Eric Schweig) arrive during the final moments of the battle and are able to save the Munro sisters, as well as one British officer from the massacre. With their saviors acting as guides, the three survivors are able to elude Indians war parties and make their way to Fort William-Henry. Unfortunately, when they finally arrive, the band of weary travelers finds the fort under siege by overwhelming French forces. After sneaking into the fort, Hawkeye and Cora spend more time together and find themselves drawn together. With the realities of the war and vengeful Magua waiting outside the walls of the fort, Hawkeye and Cora could find their budding relationship ripped apart just as quickly as it was formed. The cast of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS also includes Steven Waddington, Patrice Chéreau, Edward Blatchford, Terry Kinney, Tracey Ellis, Justin M. Rice, Dennis Banks, Jared Harris, Pete Postlethwaite and Colm Meaney.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is highly impressive and is certain to please fans. Image sharpness and detail are generally quite strong and faithful to Dante Spinotti’s gorgeous cinematography. Fine details and textures also rate fairly high, especially in close-ups, but throughout, the landscapes of longer shots still bristle quite well. There are some moments that are softer than others, but these are quibbles. Colors are fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. The various shades of green from all the foliage are cleanly delineated, while the warm glowing hues from firelight and the reds of the British uniforms, not to mention the blood reds of the carnage are also faithfully rendered. Additionally, the flesh tones come across in an exceedingly pleasing manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is also pretty terrific, especially in instances of natural lighting. The elements from which THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS has been mastered are quite clean. A grain structure is noticeable throughout, which adds a desirable filmic quality to the presentation.

THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS was released in 1992, it was produced during the last hurrah of matrixed surround- just slightly before the era where fully discrete soundtracks became commonplace. Hence, the sound isn’t as dimensional as newer soundtracks. However, this isn’t to say that THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS doesn’t sound terrific anyway. The sound design still manages to make good use of the surround speakers during the battle sequences and other intense moments in the film. The forward soundstage has excellent channel separation that creates a sense of a very wide and open space. Directional effects are deployed very convincingly and move from channel to channel cleanly and effortlessly. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is just great, which enhances the beautiful score by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman. Additionally, sound effects are very convincing. Bass is very full and deep, which gives the musket and cannon shots a real sense of reality, not to mention adding weight cannonball impacts. English dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Michael Mann. Next up in Making Of The Last Of The Mohicans, a forty-two minute program that looks at the production in detail, as well as featuring new interviews with members of the cast & crew. Theatrical Trailers close out the standard extras. THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Director Michael Mann’s THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is an impressive visual take on the oft-filmed James Fennimore Cooper tale. The Blu-ray presentation is really terrific and serves as a very worthwhile upgrade. Recommended.

 
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (DIRECTOR’S DEFINITIVE CUT) 


The Last of the Mohicans: Director's Definitive Cut [Blu-ray] (1992)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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