Judge David Johnson's death would be a great honor to the Huron.
"I do not call myself subject to much at all."
My favorite Michael Mann movie finally lands in high-definition in all of its tomahawk-swinging glory.
Facts of the Case
It's 1757 and the British and French are carving up New York State with musket fire and cannonballs. Caught in the middle is Hawkeye, the adopted white son of the Mohican people (Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood). He, his brother and his father (Russell Means) find themselves engulfed in both the European spat and a blood feud of a fearsome Huron warrior (Wes Studi).
But it won't be geopolitical warmongering that gets them running uphill and firing muskets at rival Native American tribes; nope, it's all about the ladies.
I'll spare you a ponderous analysis of why Michael Mann's French and Indian War epic is so awesome. You know it's awesome. I know it's awesome. Instead, in celebration of the film's debut on high definition, I'll present the case that Last of the Mohicans is the greatest film for cross-gender appeal; that is, it makes for the perfect compromise film for men and women alike (and yes, I am embracing the antiquated "chick flick"/ "guy movie" stereotypes).
For the ladies
Then there's The Line, that small piece of dialogue that appears to have the power to turn most women's knees to linguini: "I will find you!" (It is the all-time favorite movie line of both my mom and a college girlfriend, so there's that fascinating data point.)
For the tragic love story, you can't do much better than Unkas and Alice, the kid siblings of our heroes. Both provide arguably the most emotionally powerful scenes in the film.
For the guys
Mann is able to make canoeing, uphill running and deer-hunting blisteringly intense. The massive battles of the fort siege and the ambush are expertly staged and the culminating scene, where Hawkeye and his family decimate Magwa's war party, is one of my favorite actions moments ever. Does it get better than watching Magwa get annihilated by a middle-aged bad-ass?
Okay, that's enough gross oversimplification of gender roles. A great movie is a great movie is a great movie and Last of the Mohicans is a great movie. Action, romance, breathtaking landscapes, compelling historical settings and a killer score add up to an experience everyone will be able to enjoy.
In high-definition, Mohicans is, sadly, a mixed offering. The 2.40:1 transfer (1080p, 38MBPS) isn't as impressive as I would have liked. Lacking the high-end brightness and clarity of more stylized Blu releases, Mohicans brings a darker, grittier look. Resolution is increased marginally, more noticeable when the action opens up in the daylight, particularly in the ambush battle and the final pursuit. The plethora of dark scenes in the film benefits little from the format jump.
Though the picture didn't blow me away, the sound did, a riveting 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that utilizes the surrounds well and pushes out Trevor Jones's and Randy Edelman's legendary composition.
Extras may the release's saving grace: Michael Mann offers an interesting commentary track and a 40+ minute retrospective featurette is well-done, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew.
Finally, this cut of the film thankfully maintains the original ending, expelling the clunky last-minute lecture by Chingachgook.
The video treatment is an underachiever, but everything else about this Blu-ray is top-notch. And the movie continues to be fantastic.
Not Guilty. Go with the blessing of the council Long Rifle.
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