Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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The Last of the Mohicans

Film #265

THE PLOT

Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Year 1, Day 264

BEFORE: Coming back to another Daniel Day-Lewis film, The Last of the Mohicans takes the slot for today’s film. Also going back to historical stories like Ben-Hur and Dances With Wolves, I’m quite excited for this one not just for Day-Lewis’ performance, but also to learn about this period of history.

AFTER: Alright, so this is going to be an interesting review. My typical movie-watching setup is to stream the movie of the day to my Apple TV hooked up to our suite television. Normally, everything goes smoothly. There have been a few times I’ve had to raise the volume to hear, but once set, I’m good for the film. With The Last of the Mohicans my viewing was marred by poor playback. For some reason (either inherent to the film, or due to the DVD copy), the sound was all over the place. Dialogue and talking were incredibly difficult to hear, even at the max volume of 100, contrasted with extraordinarily loud action scenes which surpassed dialogue even at a volume of 15.

I state this not as a criticism of the film (although it very well may be) but as a reason for why my opinion may not be as high as other critics. And what might that opinion be? Well, despite some great visual storytelling - cinematography - (especially helpful with bad audio here), the rest wasn’t as good. The biggest issue I had with The Last of the Mohicans is where the focus lies. As the name implies, the focus should be on the Mohicans, three Indian men: Chingachgook (Russell Means) and his son Uncas (Eric Schweig) and adoptive son Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis). However, much of the film is about the British officers and troops. Focus isn’t something that is right or wrong - in other words, just because it’s not all about the Mohicans it’s bad. It’s because the strength of the film is in the Indians: their abilities and resolve to help their British friends. And by shying away from this, and the beautiful recreation of this 18th century America, I was disinterested in what was happening.

The Last of the Mohicans may be much better than I think it is. While I could see some positives, many negatives stuck out - most likely due to my poor viewing experience. This just reinforces one of the most important parts of film watching - make sure your viewing is good. It’s one of the best parts about watching a film in theaters: big screen and great audio. So what I’m trying to say is, in case you couldn’t already determine this from my poor writing today, take this review with a huge grain of salt. I would very much like to watch this again sometime down the road to see if my intuitions about the film are right. I’ll just leave Roger Ebert’s review here in case you want to read a more cogent argument for the film.

RATING: 3 out of 5