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The Last of the Mohicans (BBC Masterpiece Theatre)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Ives, Philip Madoc, John Abineri, Richard Warwick, Andrew Crawford
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 344 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KJTG0Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Last of the Mohicans (BBC Masterpiece Theatre)" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The definitive adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper novel, this eight-part BBC production stars John Abineri, in an Emmy-nominated performance as the Mohican Indian Chingachgook, and Kenneth Ives as the intrepid frontier scout Hawkeye. In 1757, during the French and Indian War, half-sisters Cora and Alice Munro set out to join their father, the British Commander of Fort William Henry. After they are betrayed by the villainous Huron Magua, the sisters are rescued by Hawkeye, whose efforts to lead them to safety are aided by Chingachgook and his son Uncas.

Amazon.com

Not to be confused with the 1992 Michael Mann feature of the same name, nor with any of the many other adaptations on screens big and small, this version of The Last of the Mohicans, produced by the BBC and originally aired in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theater in the early 1970s, is widely considered the most faithful to James Fenimore Cooper's novel. That's a mixed blessing, to say the least. On the one hand, this Mohicans, with eight episodes (offered here on two discs) totaling some six hours, is undeniably thorough. Cooper's tale, taking place in 1757 and set in upstate New York during Britain's so-called French and Indian War, concerns the heroic adventures of Natty Bumppo, called Hawkeye (portrayed by Kenneth Ives), and his Indian companions Chingachgook (John Abineri) and Uncas (Richard Warwick), Chingachgook's son and the true last of the Mohican tribe. While the French and their Indian allies battle the British for control of Canada and northeastern America, Hawkeye and friends are preoccupied with Cora and Alice Munro (Patricia Maynard and Joanna David), the daughters of a Scottish colonel who commands Ft. William Henry and the prey of the evil Magua (Philip Madoc), a Huron who seeks Cora as his squaw and revenge against her father for past wrongs. The girls' quest to reach their father makes Homer's Odyssey look like a three-hour tour; there are constant captures and rescues, heroic and dastardly deeds by the bucketful, and a good deal of detail about a conflict that set both Euro against Euro and Indian against Indian. What's more, Cooper's sympathy toward the Native Americans, who even then could see that their way of life was being obliterated by the palefaces and their smooth-tongued treacheries, comes through loud and clear.

The downside, however, is also considerable. The production values are laughable by today's standards: while some outdoor footage was shot on 16mm film in the Scottish highlands, all interior and some exterior scenes were shot on soundstages, and on video, and the contrast is jarring. The pacing is slower than a two-legged wolf, and other than the climactic showdown between the Huron and Delaware warriors, the several battle sequences are less than riveting. Director David Maloney relies on scenes that play more like a staged drama than a movie, featuring static two-shots in which characters exchange expository dialogue at great length. And speaking of dialogue, in addition to the fact that listening to Indians with British accents takes some getting used to, Madoc's tendency to spit out every line as if he were delivering a pugnacious proclamation is wearisome, and it won't take viewers long to tire of stilted lines like "What has brought the white chief to the camp of the people of the turtle?", to quote just one. Yet surprisingly, The Last of the Mohicans somehow manages to transcend these flaws; in the end, those with a little patience are likely to find it very entertaining. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

The production quality is low compared to today's standards but an enjoyable viewing none the less.
Jose R. Torres
Which, as a movie by itself, I like very much, but as a big fan of the novel, was shocked at how different it was.
HardyBoy64
The injustices he suffered in the past can almost be seen as a metaphor for the decline of the American Indian.
Roger Kennedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Jay Shelton on January 11, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This version of "Last of the Mohicans" originally aired via the BBC and PBS television through the excellent "Masterpiece Theater" series in 1971, and was encored in 1972. An 8-part series (each episode lasting approximately 50 minutes), this version is the closest to the original book; much closer than the widely popular Daniel-Day Lewis version theatrically released in 1992. This version has been long-sought after by collectors and lovers of "Last of the Mohicans" for years, as the rights to the series passed from the BBC several years ago. When I wrote the BBC directly several years ago, I was told that the series still did exist, but only in archival form and available to film directors and/or students that wished to preview the material in the UK. Those that wished to watch the series had to hope for a videotape set to surface from a collector or archival library edition.

Although the original Masterpiece Theater introductions by A. Cook are not included, it is highly recommended and well worth your money. Long thought scarce or lost as a production, this series contains all the elements of the original book, and does NOT change the ending, as per the 1992 theatrical version. As per the usual BBC way of producing series, the exterior shots were originally shot on film and the interiors on video. One can tell the difference between "outdoor" sets that were shot on sound stages vs. the truly outdoor shots, such as the massacre outside the fort, as well as the climatic battle between the Hurons and the Delawares. Expertly acted in every way by all cast members.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Joe E. Sheldon on January 29, 2007
Format: DVD
This is BY FAR the most authentic rendition for faithfulness to the J. F. Cooper novel and the music is stunning as well. In fact, the music was composed specifically for this miniseries and the composer of the music told me it was done with only two instruments - a flute that gave a nose flute sound-alike and a drum. He researched the type of music with some Indians living in the northern part of England by driving there in his MG (he said). He also did some of the music themes for a number of the early "Dr. Who" series.

The LOTM music, though, is both haunting and fitting to the theme of the story. The producer of the series (John McRae who actually won high-level entertainment industry awards (Emmy awards) for some of his other work (LOTM was nominated for an Emmy at its time but did not win) told me that he felt LOTM was actually his best work. I couldn't agree more. As I recall, the director now lives is New Zealand and he put me in touch with the composer of the music, Dudley Simpson.

Of interest is that the outdoor filming was largely done in the Scottish Highlands (the Glen Affric region) and as of a year or two ago there were still some photos of some of the sets used in those locales available via Google.

This rendition of the story is very much correct to the novel - even more so than the 1920s silent film which is perhaps the next closest version. It is an enthralling tale, well worth watching. In fact a few years ago I corresponded with the BBC representavive handling such things to see if they planned to release the title ... they did not. I attempted to work out a contract with the BBC to put the series onto DVD and distribute it and they sent contractual paperwork and what was supposed to be a review VHS copy of LOTM.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By HardyBoy64 VINE VOICE on March 8, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having just read the novel again, I had high expectations for this BBC miniseries from the early 1970's. The one positive element of the film is that is does indeed follow the novel quite closely, unlike the 1992 film with Daniel Day-Lewis. (Which, as a movie by itself, I like very much, but as a big fan of the novel, was shocked at how different it was.)

Several elements disappointed me about the miniseries. The very poor transition from indoor sets to the outside filming distracts the viewer because we're so used to seemless transitions in modern television. I understand that this was 30+ years ago but then again, "Star Wars" was 30 years ago and that looked realistic. Some of the sets looked like styrofoam.

Another problem that bothered me very much was the grouchy, unpleasant, scowling Colonel Munro. From the novel, one sees him as a loving and doting father whose heart is broken by the kidnapping of his daughters. In the miniseries, he hardly opens his eyes because he's constantly scowling. I didn't have a lot of sympathy for him in the film, and his grief over Cora's death is practically nonexistent. This is a big change from the novel and I didn't like it.

If you love the beautiful language of the novel, then don't expect that to translate onto film. Hawkeye's conversations about philosophic concepts seem stilted and unnatural in this miniseries.

This is worth watching once, especially if you love the novel like I do, but I'll be reaching for the novel before I pop this back into my DVD player.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By jammer on April 22, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In James Fenimore Cooper's 140,000-word novel first published in 1826, half-sisters Cora and Alice are escorted through trackless wilderness forests teeming with hostile Indians to reach their father at British Fort William-Henry, under siege and threat of frontal attack by the French and their Huron Indian partisans. The time is 1757, the place upper New York State's lake country. Background events are historically accurate, the British armies fighting French army incursions from Canada, each side with Indian partisans. LOTM is one of five novels comprising Cooper's so-called Leatherstocking Tales, centering on Natty Bumppo (aka Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Pathfinder). Attempts to film this novel's riveting combination of American history, life-and-death drama, and action-adventure date back eighty-some years to silent films.

This BBC production never loses sight of, or respect for, Cooper's source material and characterizations. Perhaps twenty key events are dramatized in proper sequence. Search-party and life-inside-Fort-Edwards scenes are also added for background. Acting is uniformly superb; characterizations are as Cooper intended; and Dudley Simpson's haunting, understated flute and drum score, composed for this mini-series, seems ever more poignant as the drama progresses.

Exclusions are Hawkeye's Huron-camp bear sequence, many philosophical discourses (Cooper never allowing such opportunities to pass unused), most of Hawkeye's and Chingachgook's pursuit strategizing, and lots of linkage between events (making scene and time transitions abrupt). As Cooper based his backdrops on actual New York state locales, filming in England required cinematography simplifications while still preserving reasonable facsimiles of these backdrops.
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