The Best of the Mohicans
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 05/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last of the Mohicans is a very fine silent adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's Classic novel. The film distils a long novel into its fairly short running time, but remains faithful to the essence of Cooper's story. The main change is that the role of Hawkeye is relegated to one of secondary importance. The emphasis of the film is on the romance between Uncas and Cora Munro and the scheming of the evil Magua to have Cora for himself. The performances in the film are naturalistic and full of feeling. Wallace Beery as Magua makes a fine villain, while Barbara Bedford is a stunning Cora, brave, beautiful and feisty. But what makes this film work so well is the use of location, the glorious scenery and the thrilling action. Some of this action is surprisingly violent, especially an attack by drunken Hurons on a group of refugees. This attack includes a shocking scene of an infant torn from her mother's arms and thrown skyward to its death. Although the Hurons are shown in a poor light, the film on the whole, as is the case with Cooper's novel, is sympathetic towards the Native American characters. Uncas is portrayed as a far superior man to Cora's original British suitor. Her being attracted to Uncas is shown to be natural and indeed commonplace. This must have seemed a daring approach for a film made in 1920, a time when interracial romance was considered taboo. This is a very well produced DVD. The print quality is first class with almost no apparent damage. The colour-tinted images are sharp and clear and some of the scenes are dazzling in their beauty. The film is accompanied by a score which fits in well with the action and adds to the mood of the whole viewing experience."
A Remarkable Achievement.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having recently revisited this title as part of the available films of Maurice Tourneur on commercial DVD (the others are ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE, THE BLUE BIRD, A GIRL'S FOLLY, LORNA DOONE, VICTORY, and THE WISHING RING), I am again reminded of what a remarkable director he was and what a remarkable achievement this film is. Of all the existing versions this one is by far and away the most faithful to the James Fennimore Cooper original (the Daniel Day-Lewis version strays the farthest).
The film was beautifully photographed on mostly natural locations (Yosemite Valley) and features fine understated performances from all the principal players especially Barbara Bedford as Cora (Boris Karloff is briefly seen as an Indian who throws a baby up in the air). The film is co-credited to Tourneur and Clarence Brown (Garbo's favorite director and maker of THE YEARLING). Tourneur was injured during the filming and Brown shot most of it. In a magnanimous gesture Tourneur wanted Brown to receive full credit but Brown refused saying that he only followed what Tourneur had already laid out and that he learned his craft from him.
The print used here is from the George Eastman House and it is beautiful with subtle tints and proper framing. The title cards are new as is the electronic music score. While the score is perfectly suitable it really needs a chamber ensemble or small orchestra to fully bring it to life but this is a small quibble. The DVD is officially out-of-print but is worth tracking down as one of the very best silent examples of transferring a classic book to the screen. That comes as no surprise for if you check Tourneur's available titles, all but one are taken from literary sources."
Hard to believe this was made so long agol
Robert Frye | YORKVILLE, IL USA | 08/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to honestly say that I did not even know there was a silent version of this film. I actually ordered it because I like the story and thought it would be interesting to see a silent version. Viewing this version was- breathtaking to say the least. The video transfer of this film is remarkably good which helps but more importantly the story itself and the acting I found incredibly interesting. Unlike the Dnaiel Day-Lewis version, which is excellent in its own right- this version has Hawkeye as a Minor Character. It focuses on the affection between Uncus (one of the 2 last of the Mohicans) and the General's Dauhter Cora (played by Madeline Stowe in the modern version). It must have been somewhat unsettling back in 1920 to even hint at a relationship between a Native American man and a Caucasian woman. This movie only hints at this relationship but I found it to be very believable and a refreshing point of view tastefully done. Another major plus of this movie was the actress who played Cora. If you view this movie it will be difficult to not think about this woman. I've seldom seen an actress or an actor emote so much simply by facial expression. Wallace Beery portrays Magua, the "bad" guy, menacingly well and, early in the film, you can see a very young Boris Karloff as an Indian raider. If you enjoy the story of Last of the Mohicans and if you have had the pleasure of seeing any silent film masterpiece you will thoroughly enjoy this DVD."