Movie Last Of The Mohicans Essay Research

Movie: Last of the Mohicans

Last of the Mohicans is set in 1757 in the third year of a war in North

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America over land and territory. Mostly, the war is between the English and the

French, but each side has taken up Indian allies to assist them. The main story

in the Last of the Mohicans is the love of an adopted Mohican, Hawk-eye, and

Cora, the daughter of an English general. There are also other stories embedded

in the movie, which are harder to recognize. For instance, a second love story

between Hawk-eye’s brother and Cora’s sister. The life of Magua is another

story that the movie seems to slightly touch, but doesn’t elaborate on.

As for the historical part of the movie, I think it is accurate in the

sense of the fighting style of the English. The “proper” way of war might be

fine in Europe, but against the Indians, standing in a line with bright red

coats is not the way to win. “?the soldiers’ uniforms splendid ? though (and

that’s a historic fact) idiotically ornate and impractical for warfare. It

wasn’t until about 1916 that the British and the French saw the light and

stopped wearing all that Day-Glo, easy target colors” (Prof. Jahiel). For

example, at the beginning of the movie, Magua killed one soldier marching in the

line, and the guy next to him didn’t even do anything until the commander said

to attack. They would also fire at the same time, leaving the whole squad

vulnerable to attack while they reloaded. By fighting in this manner, it

allowed the Indians to fight much more strategically. They would fire muskets

three at a time, so they could stop an oncoming rush while the others reloaded.

The Indians also took advantage of the English firing scheme. After the whole

squad of English soldiers fired their muskets, the Indians would rush in with

axes and knives, then fall back. This strategy would allow just a few Indians

to take out a relatively large number of English. “The British, we learn by the

proof in the pudding, are inept warriors, and lousy tacticians?Plus, they’re

seemingly accurately described, both from the point of view of the historian and

political correctness” (Prof. Jahiel).

I also think the film did a good job with the weapons used throughout

the movie. The spears, bows, axes, and muskets look authentic enough for me.

The one weapon that I couldn’t recognize was the axe-type club that was used by

Hawk-eye’s father. I found this to be a remarkable weapon, used very skillfully.

Also Hawk-eye gets his name from his skill with a musket. He always seems to

have a gun when he needs it, and he never misses. Another thing that caught my

attention was the canoes used in the river chase scene. I’m not sure if this

was an accurate representation of what the Indian canoes looked like, but they

were very pleasing to the eye, especially if they were make with the crude tools

the Indians had to work with. As for people, places and actions, I think the

film is mostly historically accurate because “His [Mr. Mann, director]

dedication to historical accuracy is not only admirable, it makes Mohicans a

convincing experience — and a great-looking historical epic” (Alex Patterson).

Professor Jahiel states that the old forts, cannons, and encampments are all

painstakingly genuinized.

I think the central action or event would be the lives of Hawk-eye and

Magua. The English and the French were responsible for the war, which brought

them together, but as enemies. “The war creates a myriad of conflicts –

military, personal, tribal and romantic. In addition to rival Waddington, Day-

Lewis must contend with Stowe’s patriotic father, fort commander Maurice Roeves.

He must also defeat bellicose Wes Studi (as the infamous Huron Indian, Magua),

who has a blood account to settle” (Desson Howe). As for the history part of

the movie, I think it was accurate in the fact that each side had Indian allies,

but I think the Indians fought mostly when there was a distinct purpose, not

just because they were at war. At first the major conflict seems to be the war

itself, but I think it might be Hawk-eye’s and Magua’s lives. The war is there,

but it is in the background. “The movie touches quickly on the fine points of

British-French-Indian-settler conflicts, so that they can get on to the story

we’re really interested in, about the hero who wins the heart of the girl”

(Roger Ebert). Hawk-eye seems to be caught in his own war, meaning he comes

from a French background, has Mohican customs, and is in love with an English

girl. He always seems to do the just thing even when outside forces make it

hard for him. Like when Hawk-eye chooses to stay at the fort instead of going

with his friends to defend their homes. He stays because of Cora, even though

he knew he would be arrested. As for Magua, he is desperate for revenge, and

will go to any lengths to kill the “grey-hair”, or General Munroe, and his

daughters. In the film Magua says ‘when the Grey Hair is dead, Magua will eat

his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so the

Grey Hair will know his seed is wiped out forever.’ Magua blames the loss of

his children and wife on the war, and more specifically, on General Munroe.

I think another sub plot that comes out of the film is the idea of

change. Or at least reality sets in on some of the characters. For instance,

General Munroe decides not to fight for his fort and just leave. This was

something that was not previously done, or even accepted in the English Military.

Also I found Cora’s ex-boyfriend, the noble, to be an extremely brave and

honorable man. At first I thought he was, quite frankly, an arrogant jackass

until the end when he sacrificed himself for Cora and Hawk-eye.

One thing to keep in mind when watching the film is that it shows the

war from a different angle than what the public might be used to. It focuses

more on an Indian point of view and a more individualistic view. By Indian

point of view I mean most representations of wars in America make us look to be

the good guys, in this film there is a somewhat neutral eye from which the war

is viewed. What I mean by individualistic is that each person, Hawk-eye, Cora,

General Munroe, and Magua are involved in the same war, but see things totally

different. One person viewing the film will most likely see something different

or special about the film than another person would.


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