After reading the novel, The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fennimore Cooper, and viewing the 1992 film version directed by Michael Mann, starring Daniel Day-Lewis at “Hawkeye,” and the 1936 film version directed by George H. Seitz, starring Randolph Scott as “Hawkeye,” it can be easily concluded that the film has been more influential than the novel especially, the 1992 version directed by Michael Mann. The director has done justice to the historic story. A historical film needs to be presented carefully. It also requires extensive research. The novel ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ was published in 1826 and was written in the background of French and Indian War (the Seven Years War) of 1757. The writer seems to be confused about the fact that the tribes; Mohegans and Mohicans, still exist which he has declared as extinct.
The film has been made after extensive research on the history. It doesn’t claim that the tribes Mohegan and Mohican are extinct. It leaves the question unanswered. In the novel, it is clearly stated that the Mohicans became extinct at the end of the story. The film is not descriptive but informative and interesting. The novel is quite lengthy.
The presentation of the film is its strength. Being a periodic film it presents the history in its true context. The sets, costumes and the equipment used in the film give a glimpse of the past. The novel has failed to present the story in an interesting manner. In places, it has become too descriptive. Its formal prose style is also not very appealing. It failed to bind the reader with it. Once the film starts the viewer couldn’t afford to leave his/her seat.
Characters are the same in the movie and in the novel. The characters of Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas are portrayed very elegantly in the film. The portraits of these characters are not presented very effectively in the novel. The audience feels attached to these characters in the film. Their characterization in the film is so influential that one feels being one of them. Their characterization in the novel doesn’t attach the reader with them.
The Last of the Mohicans is a story of 1757 when many revolutions and the wars were being fought to change the world. The story narrates the French and the Indian war (the seven years war) of 1757. The narration of the story in the novel has many flaws and it is like formal prose which doesn’t influence the readers much. On the other hand, both the film versions are quite interesting and present the story in an interesting manner after extensive research. The characters in the movie emerge as if they really participated in the war. Both the directors deserve appreciation for making historic films.
Cooper, James Fenimore, The Last of the Mohicans . New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1980.
Mann, Michael, The Last of the Mohicans. United States: 20th Century Fox, 1992.