Director Michael Mann based this lushly romantic version of the James Fenimore Cooper novel more on his memory of the 1936 film version (starring Randolph Scott) than on Cooper’s novel (in fact, Philip Dunne’s 1936 screenplay is cited as source material for this film). Set in the 1750s during the French and Indian War, the story concerns Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), the European-born adopted son of Mohican scout Chingachgook (Russell Means). Hawkeye and his party, which also includes the Mohican Uncas (Eric Schweig), joins up with a group of Britons who have recently arrived in the Colonies. The group consists of Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) and her younger sister, Alice (Jodhi May), who are rescued from a Huron war party by Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s band accompanies them to the British Fort William Henry, which is being besieged by a French and Huron force. The fort falls to the French, and Colonel Munro (Maurice Roeves) surrenders to French General Montcalm (Patrice Chéreau). The terms of the surrender are that the British merely abandon the fort and return to their homes. However, the French’s bloodthirsty ally, the Huron warrior Magua (Wes Studi), has made no such agreement, and, as the British retreat from the fort, he plans to massacre them in a terrible Huron attack.
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