Last night I did what I should not: watched a bad movie based on a great book. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper is a novel about friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, honor, race and family. The movie is not much any of that.
In the movie version with Daniel Day-Lewis, the director, Michael Mann, took a tomahawk to Cooper’s book.
Michael Mann downplayed the character of Uncas—who’s only the last of the Mohicans from which the story gets its title—into mere moccasin prints. Mann assassinated the characters of Heyward and Colonel Munro by transforming them from honorable men into tyrants. He invented a love story between Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and Cora and made it the focus of the story; removed Cora’s unrequited love for Hayward, as well as Hayward’s love for Alice and Magua’s desire for Cora. Mann disappeared David altogether, killed off characters that survive in the book and deleted a murder that leads up to the climax. Mann eliminated all the humor and most of the native tribe and the woodmen lore that enriches Cooper’s novel. Mann even did the unthinkable: he cut out the bear suit scene.