We all have our favourite films, and some films that we’ve watched more times than we can remember. I’m almost surprised that Michael Mann’s 1992 film of The Last of the Mohicans is one of them. It’s not particularly influential or groundbreaking, and is essentially a re-make (albeit a good one), but that’s not the point. It does what it sets out to do with a remarkable beauty and grace. I watched the film again this weekend and what a wonderful film it still is. A rare and moving picture that one, not to mention a great adventure film with some outstanding cinematography.
It always gets me. I mean really; I’ve got tears welling up and a lump in my throat as Daniel Day-Lewis’ Hawkeye promises Madelaine Stowe’s Cora that “Wherever you go, I shall find you!” Films that promote the utter Power of Love against a backdrop of passion and war can raise the bar on the average adventure story. By the time Jodhi May commits suicide to a backdrop of gorgeous Eastern United States scenery (Carolina representing New York State), I’m slack jawed and emotional. Something about the early American colonial period, the desperate battle for that new frontier and the absolute twin-soul romance between Hawkeye and Cora; that combination touches me. It’s a bloody great film, and I think Michael Mann’s finest. I might even read the book one of these days.
Here’s one of my favourite scenes; such wonderful dialogue (with thanks and links to IMDB):
Hawkeye: My father’s people say that at the birth of the sun and of his brother the moon, their mother died. So the sun gave to the earth her body, from which was to spring all life. And he drew forth from her breast the stars, and the stars he threw into the night sky to remind him of her soul. So there’s the Cameron family’s monument. My folks’ too, I guess. Cora Munro: You are right, Mr. Poe. We do not understand what is happening here. And it’s not as I imagined it would be, thinking of it in Boston and in London…
Hawkeye: Sorry to disappoint you.
Cora Munro: No, on the contrary Sir. It is more deeply stirring to my blood than any imagining could possibly have been.
That’s even better than Casablanca for me.