TSPDT 2014: The Last of the Mohicans
Posted by martinteller on March 11, 2014
This is it. The last of my unwatched movies from the “They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?” 1,000 Greatest Films list*. For the first time, I can say with no caveats that I actually have seen all one thousand of them. I watched both versions of Rivette’s mammoth Out 1, and there’s no unobtainable The Art of Vision to keep me from 100% completion. A meaningless milestone, no doubt, but at least it’s one I can say that not many others have achieved. How does it feel?
Well, I wish I’d gone out on a different movie (ideally, the “noli me tangere” version of Out 1, which caught me quite by surprise). This is the kind of review I hate writing the most: a movie that “did nothing for me”. To make matters worse, it’s highly regarded by many (or it wouldn’t be on this list). Some people I know hold it in very high regard indeed, and they will take issue with my review. They may argue their case for the greatness of this movie. And I will struggle to come up with any rebuttal better than “it did nothing for me”… to everyone’s frustration, including my own.
The technical aspects of the film are appropriately grand: battle scenes in particular are staged and shot exceptionally well, even bringing Kurosawa to mind. The period recreation, as far as I can tell, is impeccable. Not once did I feel the presence of the modern world. Except for the rather clumsy and confusing first 20 minutes, the story moves along briskly, and contains some well-constructed intrigue. But I was so uninvested. I could lay some of the blame on the bombastic score invading every crucial moment, but when I really examine it, I just didn’t give a damn about these characters. Daniel Day-Lewis does an awful lot of hopping around and looking very, very intense. He’s a hero all the way, doing the honorable thing and mowing through enemies like they were made out of butter. I guess I don’t have much use for that kind of hero, I found him a bit of a snooze. Likewise, his romance with Madeline Stowe lit no fires under me. I thought his complex heritage was mildly interesting, but only mildly.
“Mild.” That’s the word I keep coming back to when I reflect on this movie. The things I disliked, I mildly disliked. The things I liked, I mildly liked. Most of it was neither like nor dislike. It was just there. It was a movie. Though it raises issues of heritage, honor, imperialism and loyalty, it provoked no meditation on these themes for me. Though the action was exquisitely crafted, it stirred no thrills in me. Though the production was impressive, I did not feel impressed. It… well, it did nothing for me. It was a movie. Neither annoying nor exhilarating, just a movie. Rating: Fair (67)
* for the record, there are 87 movies on the list that I have no review for, because I have not revisited them during the years that I’ve been writing about movies. I have no particular plans at this time to rewatch any of them.