A REVIEW ... of the Guide Book & an Interview With the Author
The following is a review of the book, along with excerpts from an interview with the author (that's me!), done by Christine Altese who used to co-edit a DDL newsletter called DAY-LEWIS UPDATE. I thank her for her kind words ...
"Like countless others, Rich Federici was captivated by the film The Last Of The Mohicans - by the performances of Daniel Day-Lewis and the other actors; by the stirring music and exciting screenplay; but also, perhaps more than most moviegoers, by the film's gorgeous scenery. Rich ... found himself more than captivated: recognizing some of the scenery in the film inspired him to embark on a quest that led to his writing and producing a booklet entitled On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans. The book artfully combines descriptions of settings used in the film with historical facts and tie-ins to the movie itself, along with numerous color photographs, making for an interesting experience for any The Last Of The Mohicans fan. The photos - even in proof form - are gorgeous, and the reader is guided along the "trail" with quotes from the film and descriptions of key scenes. There are also sections detailing how to find the locations in the book, as well as a list of accommodations in the area, for the serious explorer."
Q: When did you first see The Last Of The Mohicans and what was your reaction?
A: The first time I saw Mohicans was on video ... shortly after its release ... what struck me immediately was the soundtrack, the action sequences ... and the mountains near Chimney Rock Park ...
Q: How did your interest in the movie evolve into the booklet?
A: Well ... the first viewing was haunting me. I rented a copy and watched it over and over. I literally couldn't get enough of it. Now, I'm no movie freak or celebrity chaser, so this was most unusual for me. I think the quality of the cinematography and soundtrack, coupled with the fact I live here near all these places, along with my intense interest in frontier history, had a lot to do with its unusual impact on me. So, after absorbing every little detail, I decided to head over to Chimney Rock Park (one of the few actual locations listed in the credits) to see if I could identify any of the film's locations. I recognized the cliff scenes as having been filmed there, I thought the opening shots were perhaps filmed in the Smokies (wrong!), and I knew the fort was done at Lake James ... Camera in hand, off I went. It was Easter Sunday, 1993. Surprisingly, park personnel handed me a little sheet listing the places in the park used for filming. It was easy, then, to find them. Very exciting. I headed for Lake James. Stopping in at a local retailer or two, it was easy to pinpoint the fort site. To my surprise, there were still remains which identified the place as having once been Fort William Henry in the film. Nothing else was so easy. But, one thing all my visits to the public locations which received any publicity had in common was, I invariably encountered people, locals and tourists, trying to figure out where certain scenes were filmed. Often, they were in the wrong county, and almost always were looking in the wrong direction. I soon found myself acting as a tour guide of sorts. Up to this point, I'd been snapping shots and shooting some video for my own personal photo album. All of a sudden something clicked.
Q: What were the steps you took to research, write and produce the booklet?
A: After realizing a guide-type booklet might be useful, I decided to write to various Chambers of Commerce in the area to see in which counties the filming had taken place. What I received was a plethora of misinformation (one phone number of a supposed site, for example, turned out to be Blue Cross/Blue Shield somewhere in Virginia!) I found one itinerary published by the Western NC Film Commission which gave me clues, but that was all. I mean, if you're to print a tourists' itinerary for help in getting to some of the sites, it should do a lot more than drop CLUES! In any case, it wasn't even close to being complete, and again, was more misinformation than anything else. It was back to the drawing board. Armed with the film's credits and a few tidbits gathered from my letter writing, I was off to the library in Asheville to sit for hours in front of a microfilm machine searching for articles printed in the local papers from April '91, when casting calls for extras were given ... on through the release of the film itself in October '92. It made for interesting reading, to be sure, but yielded only a few more clues. It seemed the actual details of specific locations were a great mystery. I began firing off letters and tying up the phone line. I contacted 20th Century Fox, the Chambers again (with more specific questions), National Park personnel, forest rangers from the National Forest Service, reporters who covered the filming, local people in areas I was zooming in on (a bunch of false leads here, too), people at Chimney Rock, Biltmore Estate, and other places I was finding out about, and eventually tracked down the location scouts. Finally, all the pieces began falling into place. Once I had a good working idea of where stuff was ... I went out to shoot pictures, would come home, play the video in slow motion, identify exact places, find my photos didn't always match up, go back, reshoot ... Then, out of the blue, people who worked on the film began calling. They apparently had heard of my project through the grapevine - I had some very long and interesting chats with extras, people from props, etc. Most important was a call from Michael Bigham, the locations manager. He verified all my work, gave a few added details, but still couldn't tell me where the Opening and Closing Vistas were shot. He wasn't with the film crew when they were filmed, and all he could tell me was that they were shot somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which by this time I had pretty much figured out. I was resigned to using shots that typified those scenes on film. Persistence paid off, though, and I finally located the NPS Ranger who had accompanied the crew on that shoot! Other locales of particular difficulty were Massacre Valley, Cameron's Cabin, and the River Walk. In the end, I'm happy to say that I was able to pinpoint EVERY scene ...
Note: And still, several years past, this film - with all its mystique - holds a special place in my heart. And thus, this site has been born ...
If you'd like, you can read SOME COMMENTS FROM EDITORS ... and others ... Opinions on the Guide Book
Or, maybe you're ready to find out HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK ... Ordering Information