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A while back, on our EVEN MORE MOHICAN MUSINGS page, we included a selection of quotes from some of those involved in the creation of LOTM. Words from the principals give us some great insights into the whys & hows of the filming. We now follow up with more such quotes from the director & some of the actors. Many of these come from publications in Canada & England ...
[regarding the filming of "Cameron's Cabin ... part 2"] I've given him a hill to walk up, then when he turns back down the hill it'll give him momentum ... He's gonna be walking with real purposeful steps, and his inner urge is almost to physically assault her ... Every take was within a zone of excellence where the changes get down to being microscopic. Many, many actors can stand there and deliver controlled rage, but Daniel goes one dimension beyond. In his movements, his expression, he avoids all the tired stuff - we don't see the little muscle on the cheekbone flexing or any of that. You just see it's somebody who's angry. He's totally original, spontaneous and believable - that's where Daniel elevates it all to. That's why I wanted him to play Hawkeye. To elevate this whole movie, story, novel to immediacy, I needed somebody as good as Daniel.
People with real-life experiences can bring a presence only the finest actors can. Russell has all kinds of wisdom and scars, which help him understand Chingachgook - and Magua, too.
I had some help preparing for the role from a guy who really spends most of his time living in the 18th century. [Our own Mark A. Baker, of course!] When I first met him, in a clearing in the forest, I thought I was hallucinating. He was standing outside an 18th century tent with an 18th century fire wearing an 18th century costume, accurate in every single detail. Most of it he had made himself! He told me about guys who could load rifles on the run and I didn't believe him then. ... I did develop a disturbing affection for running with this heavy rifle! It wasn't a well-balanced rifle either. Elegant, but not well-balanced. It was particularly heavy in the barrel. It's not just the weight of it but the imbalance it creates.
I was quite stunned by the ferocity of some of the violence. Even though I'd been a part of some of it at the time we were filming. It doesn't feel like that when you are involved in it.
Everything about his [Hawkeye's] sensibility and his cultural understanding is that of his people, the Mohicans. It was completely alien to me.
DDL at the LA screening of LOTM
Well I was pretty weary when The Last of the Mohicans finished and I was a bit anxious about that. When you have lived in the mountains and the forests for five or six months it's not something you readily let go of and the shock of being back in the city was really acute. I literally finished in North Carolina after a 26 hour last day of shooting [Under the Falls] and the next day found myself on the streets of Paris and was completely bemused by everything I saw and smelled and heard. I was still thinking like an Indian. Could you imagine what it was like for them to be taken on these bizarre journeys to meet the Queen of England? It must have been like science fiction!
[regarding the time spent at the anti-terrorist training camp in pre-production] We have to know each other as a family. [We] should have a father-son relationship. We became close and will remain so.
Daniel would carry his gun around all the time. When he went to lunch he'd have that gun with him, when he went to the bathroom he'd have that gun with him. He's sort of not of this world, Daniel. ... There's a stillness around Daniel. And you can't read, unless you know him very well, when he's not feeling right or [is] frustrated. He's very self-contained. There is this softness that he has. He does not criticise, never said a bad word about anything, doesn't complain. The crew like him a lot, and yet I think a lot of the crew must have felt they didn't get to know him ...
Russell Means & his ex-wife, Gloria
... Revolutionary ... [For the first time] Indians are not John Ford's cardboard figures. Even the bad Indian, Magua, is given a history and a psychology.
One scene of me in slow motion translates to about five seconds. It took 3 and a half hours to film.
For More Quotes, Go To: MOHICAN MUSINGS ... Part 7
Tracking Le Longue Carabine
Tall and lanky; a skilled woodsmen; the greatest hunter of the country; a loner who despised the settlements that were closing in on him; the frontiersman who moved silently within the forests ... Who was the leatherstocking man whose life inspired James Fenimore Cooper to spin his captivating tales of frontier adventure? Or was he merely a creation of Cooper's clever imagination? Did the fictitious character embody the collective spirit of all colonial woodsmen? Who was Le Longue Carabine?
Questions as to the identity of the proto-Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo, Pathfinder, Deerslayer ...) have arisen time and time again. Cooper's man, with his expertise in the back country, association and affectionate relationship with the Mohicans, bold fighting tactics, and his era have led many to speculate that Cooper modeled his protagonist after Robert Rogers of Rogers' Rangers fame. There are similarities between the two, but they are general in nature and can be applied to other 18th century frontiersmen as easily as to Rogers.
Others have seen Hawkeye as a symbol of the many anonymous frontiersmen; the semi-nomadic long hunters who lived their lives on the borders of the settlements, and whose lives shadowed civilization. Certainly, many of the traits common to these men of the wilds can be found in the person of Natty Bumppo as well. The illiterate, strongly opinionated loner; the rebellious scout for hire; the mighty hunter; the independent, sovereign spirit; the man with no nation; the man "without a cross". Cooper infused his leatherstocking man with these same marks and perhaps created Hawkeye to represent this breed of man.
In writing "The Leatherstocking Tales", Cooper was addressing the emerging American identity, still in its infancy, still undefined. He witnessed the new American man evolving and was, it would seem, attempting to guide his development with a father's hand; his tales being a means to this end. In a sense, Cooper was carrying a torch, lighting the way for the changing of the guard. He saw the frontiersmen as a dying breed; men caught between two worlds, belonging to neither. He admired and appreciated much in these men of old ways, and lamented their passing. He mourned the "death" of the unspoiled wilderness, the Indian cultures, the natural man; all of these which had inspired him in his youth. He was not a fatalist, nor was he a fool. In the final chapter of the old world, Cooper recognized the dawn of possibilities. He held out hope for the new American identity and was, like that father figure, steering its course. Hawkeye was the man in the middle of these two conflicting worlds; the shadow that bridged one generation to another. But was there a real, individual "shadow man" that inspired Cooper's character? Was there an actual " Longue Carabine"? Yes.... there was.
While James Fenimore Cooper was growing up in Cooperstown, there was a woodsman with whom he had contact. His name was David Shipman. According to both Shipman and Cooper family members, David WAS Hawkeye. Born in 1740 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, to a family that had been among the first English colonists in the previously Dutch settlement, Shipman's roots were in Mohegan country, where the "long river" meets Long Island Sound. Like many others of his day, David departed the populous New England town and headed west where the wilderness offered solitude for men like him ... west, to New York's frontier country.
According to Shipman's descendants, the wandering woodsman served in the Albany County Militia under Colonel John Knickerbocker and Lt. John Van Rennselaer during the Revolutionary War. With the war over, Shipman continued his nomadic ways and by the time land speculator Judge William Cooper arrived in what was to be Otsego County, he had already earned a reputation in the region as "the greatest hunter in the country". It was Shipman who aided Judge Cooper in surveying the region that was to become Cooperstown. After completion of the family mansion, the Coopers resettled in Otsego's beautiful wilderness country. It was here young James grew up and encountered the natural beauty of the world and the man who would inspire American literature's greatest fictional character.
Illustration by N. C. Wyeth
Bringing game, such as deer and bear, Shipman, along with his hunting dogs and long rifle, was a frequent visitor to Judge Cooper's home. He was tall and thin. He wore buckskin and fur clothing, moccasins and leather stockings tied below the knee with leather strips. His speech and manner were considered rude, his disdain for the encroachment of civilization well known. He was a loner, a solitary man of the forest, a survivalist. One can only imagine the fantastic tales he must have spun before the young Cooper boys, who likely were, as most adventure loving lads would have been, enraptured by stories of war, Indians, hunts, settlements, scouting, wild animals, near death encounters, colonial legend and lore. He assumedly would have told tales to his young listeners of his childhood in Old Saybrook, where the name "Uncas" loomed large over the region's history. It was Pequot/Mohegan country, and Shipman's own grandfather would have lived during the sachem's life. What an impression this living legend must have made on young James Cooper. What an inspiring influence the leatherstocking man must have had upon the future author's views.
David Shipman died in 1813 at the age of 73 in Fly Creek, NY. Though no mention of a wife has, as far as we know, yet surfaced, he left behind a daughter named Delilah. She, along with her children, had steadfastly claimed David as the true Hawkeye, the leatherstocking inspiration. Le Longue Carabine is buried in the Old Adams burial ground near Fly Creek ... a stone's throw from the shores of Otsego, where James Fenimore Cooper and his father, the judge, rest.
Years ago, an address was given before the Daughters of the American Revolution at a ceremony in Cooperstown, NY. The topic was David Shipman, "Le Longue Carabine". The speaker was a descendant of David's, a woman named ... Cora.
(Thanks for the timely questions, Gayle!)
Performances in 1992's The Last of the Mohicans are strong throughout. It seems everyone, whether portraying the movie's main characters, Hawkeye (DDL), its subordinate characters, Col. Munro (Maurice Roeves), or even its extras, Soldier #2 (Eric Hurley) ... all played their parts in a convincing & stellar manner. Two, though, stand apart from the rest. Partially due to the strong character played, but more so due to their fine characterization ... Wes Studi, as Magua (see below), and Madeleine Stowe, as Cora Munro, seem to rise to the occasion just a bit more. They stand out. Their performances are riveting and true.
Madeleine Stowe lends a certain dignity to the character of Cora. She IS Cora, and, in the minds of many, Cora is Stowe. That's how strongly her screen persona comes across in this instance. So, it is perplexing as to why her career hasn't sky rocketed. With her beauty and obvious talent, it seems she should, by this stage, be one of THE leading ladies in Hollywood. Disappointingly, she isn't.
Why? Immediately following the film wrap of Mohicans, a role which required total immersion, she boarded a plane and flew to the set of one of her cheesier roles in the totally forgettable Unlawful Entry ... and that is her career in a nutshell. At the very point where it seems she could have had her choice of roles, had she only waited until LOTM was released, she jumped into a role demeaning of her talent, and, as is her custom, out of her clothes. Some of the trash she has been in does not warrant mention, but her character was certainly likeable in Stakeout, Revenge and The Two Jakes ... even though all three performances were marred by totally unnecessary nude and/or sex scenes.
I'm not saying I wouldn't again, I just always think, 'Why am I doing this?' I often wonder if there isn't something more interesting in not seeing anything, which I generally think there is. It's easy enough to take your clothes off and walk around, but is that the best way to make the scene work? Many times, it's not, but we've become so used to seeing nudity that we don't even try to come up with more clever solutions. So I make sure the scene is extremely important to the film if it involves my taking off my clothes. Otherwise, I'll just leave them on, thank you very much. I'm sure people are tired of seeing me without my clothes anyway, don't you think? ... Madeleine Stowe
You know, it's really weird about sex in the movies. The old films, where they did nothing more than kiss each other, were a lot sexier than the new films. ... Madeleine Stowe
(As in LOTM then, Maddy?)
So, why? There is no reconciling her words, in print, with her actions on film! Not ALL her films feature her naked. 12 Monkeys, for example, though somewhat eccentric, is a pretty decent film and Stowe plays a good part. Same for Closet Land, though that tends to be a bit kinky. Blink could have been one of her better films, maybe it still is, but again, needless sex and a nude Stowe. It all borders on the ridiculous. With a wealth of talent and the ability to capture a myriad assortment of moods, she remains an enigma. As fans of her very best film and role, we'd like to shake her and say, "Wake up, Maddy!"
Working with Michael Mann on The Last of the Mohicans was a joy! ... Madeleine Stowe
Maybe, it will take another role under the direction of Michael Mann to once again put her on the road to success ...
Photo courtesy of Josie Auger
What is it about Wes?
Of all the LOTM actors, with the exception of Daniel Day-Lewis, it is Wes Studi who appears to have obtained the most success in his acting endeavors following, and perhaps due to, his appearance as Magua in The Last of the Mohicans. Recognized immediately as a formidable contending Oscar candidate, Wes Studi, though he did not win the coveted award, has certainly won the respect and admiration of many for his brilliant performance as the evil Huron. It's not easy being THE bad guy.... and yet, Wes managed not only to do it with style, but to win hearts as well!
In high demand as a speaker at various film and charity events, as a narrator for his gift of story-telling, and most deservedly as an actor, Wes Studi's film career has steadily been going upward. He has had starring roles in several films since LOTM, including the recent theater release "Deep Rising", and is winning roles that transcend the "Indian actor" type-cast. Added to these successes is his venture into the arena of film production. As one member of a quintet partnership, Wes Studi has created a production company in New Mexico that has already produced one film.
The multi-lingual actor has made many public appearances and is described as having a great sense of humor, yet Wes seems a bit .... well, reclusive maybe? He is reportedly difficult to contact and seemingly not eager about interviews. (Not bad qualities at all!) He was conspicuously absent from the "Indian protest" that occurred during the filming of The Last of the Mohicans. His "Mohican" co-stars, extras, and even Daniel Day-Lewis were there. What about Wes? Is this a subtle clue? A hint of his relationship with some of his colleagues? Or is Wes perhaps "the quiet man"?
What of his relationship with director Michael Mann? One can reasonably assume that Michael Mann was pleased with his performance as Magua and his impressive acting abilities, but it is just as reasonable to assume the two got along very, very well. Mann's first film following The Last of the Mohicans was "Heat". And who was cast in the role of Al Pacino's detective partner? Wes, of course.
So just what is it about Wes? Whatever it is, he's doing it right!
Photo courtesy of Josie Auger
It isn't often that one gets to see, and experience, the inside makings of their favorite movie in the fashion that we, through the good graces of some of those involved in the filming of LOTM, have been able to present to you here, on this Web Site. Photos from the set, first person accounts, interviews ... let's see ... what else can we pass your way? It might be fun to see the film through the eyes of the director, don't you think? Using the links below, you can get a glimpse into the making of The Last of the Mohicans that very few have seen before. Some REAL behind-the-scenes visualizations from the mind of the Mann. We'll add more, from time to time ... enjoy.
Below are three Call Sheets and two pre-production sketches that allow you a unique perspective of some of the goings-on. Use the Back Button on your browser to return here after viewing each item.
ABOVE: Left: Call Sheet For Cameron's Cabin (part 1- Day) Center: Call Sheet For A Part Of Massacre Valley Right: Transportation Roster For Day One Of Filming BELOW: Left & Right: Preliminary Sketches Of Under The Falls
It is a testament to the undefined power of The Last of the Mohicans that this Musing exists at all. A knife collector for 25 years, Idaho's Roger Worley feasted his eyes upon the February, 1993 issue of Blade magazine and his imagination took over. Previously, he had taken various historical knife exhibits on the road, featuring knives from the Civil War era, through the old Wild West, and on to the present. The cover of that magazine featured the LOTM poster of Hawkeye, and the accompanying article detailed the contributions to the movie of two knifemakers from North Carolina, Randall King & Daniel Winkler, who worked with Michael Mann & props master, Ron Downing, in fashioning the period correct weapons you see on film. King made the knives of Magua & Chingachgook, while Winkler crafted the knives of Hawkeye & Uncas, as well as the tomahawk of Magua. Well, Roger Worley managed to get these craftsmen to create duplicates for him ... but, he didn't stop there. He contacted Wayne Watson, the Killdeer specialist ... Brian LeMaster, who made Magua's fusil ... in the end, he had a large collection of LOTM replica weapons, built by the original craftsmen who worked on the film! This collection, together with posters, articles, photos, a brain tanned covered scrapbook containing documentation from the makers & stills from the film made quite a display ... and, all the while, the theme soundtrack played on. What a treat for viewers when Roger took this show on the road!
Photos Courtesy of Roger Worley
The Leatherstocking Tales... Curiously Popular!
Of all the novels that comprise James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, The Last of the Mohicans has consistently proven to be the most popular. That explains, of course, the many film and television productions of the frontier classic. It seems people just can't get enough of Hawkeye! The great American hero repeatedly graces the screen not only in LOTM, but in The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder as well.
The Deerslayer made its film debut way back in the golden era of silent movies, in 1913. It was once again made into a major motion picture in 1957 and not only did it have sound this time, it had color! Imagine, if you can, Lex Barker as Natty Bumppo a.k.a. Deerslayer a.k.a. Pathfinder a.k.a. Hawkeye a.k.a. Nathaniel Poe.............. now compare that image to Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye. Barker's female co-star was none other than Latino actress Rita Moreno, portraying Hetty Hutter. And who do you think produced the '57 film? 20th Century Fox!
We next have a television production of The Deerslayer in 1978. A sequel to the 1977 Last of the Mohicans, this version has Steve Forrest returning to star as Hawkeye, Ned Romero rejoins as Chingachgook, and Hetty Hutter is portrayed by......no, not Rita Moreno, not Lex Barker, Fess Parker, nor even Bob Barker. No, no... this time around Hetty is played by none other than Madeleine Stowe!
As for The Pathfinder... we have a production in 1952, then another in 1957 called The Pathfinder and the Mohicans. We know you won't guess who played Chingachgook so we'll just tell you... Lon Chaney Jr. Really! Moving forward to 1996, we discover yet another Pathfinder film adaptation. This is getting really interesting now! News of Michael Mann's '92 success must have spread, inspiring one movie company to give Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales" another shot. No, it wasn't produced by 20th Century Fox, but by Leather Stocking Productions. Madeleine Stowe did not do her third Cooper stint, yet there's an interesting twist. Pathfinder/Hawkeye was portrayed by Kevin Dillon. Chingachgook was not played by Russell Means, but by the ever-employed actor who manages to land a part in 99% of films that require an Indian male, Graham Greene. Oh yes, and then there was that other character in The Pathfinder by the name of "Arrowhead". Who portrayed him? Russell Means!
You were right, Mr. Poe. We do not understand what is happening here. 20th Century Fox, a repeat offender. Madeleine Stowe, a repeat offender. Russell Means, a repeat offender. Perhaps Mohican Mania is more widespread than we thought. Maybe Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales" are more deeply stirring to the blood than any imagining could possibly have been!
And people think Brideshead is revisited?
The First Shall Be Last and The Last Shall Be First!
"I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans" ... says the grieving father. True it is; he remains alone, no blood heir to his line survives. His only natural son has been slain by Magua. He is the last of his people.... but his birth preceded that of his son's. It was the young Uncas who was to continue the line. So, who is really the Last of the Mohicans?
Uncas was the true 'last of the Mohicans', the final generation. In that, there is irony, for Cooper's last man is named for another who was first! We mention elsewhere in our Musings the two historical Uncas'... the 17th century Mohegan and the 18th century Mohegan. While it is impossible to say definitively which Uncas was the inspiration for Cooper's fictional Mohican, the evidence weighs heavily in favor of our first Uncas! It is he who was widely known and frequently referred to in historical records; certainly he was known to Cooper.
This historic primo-Uncas was a Pequot sagamore. During the 1630s, a dispute erupted between Uncas and Sassacus, the Pequot sachem. Uncas, apparently not satisfied to be a lesser chief, claimed it was he who should have held the premiere title based on his close relationship with the previous sachem. His claim was illegitimate, however, and thus, Sassacus refused to relinquish the title to the angry Uncas. A very nasty intertribal political war arose resulting in a split between the Pequots. Uncas and his followers withdrew themselves from the Pequots and resettled across the Thames River in Connecticut. The new 'sachem' Uncas revived the original tribal name... Mohegans, and forbid any references to his disaffected people as Pequot.
The Mohegans, though a different tribe, were related to the Mohicans, probably from the same people long ago. And just as the Mohicans were English friendly (you might even say "user friendly"?), so too were Uncas and his Mohegans. Under the leadership of the shrewd Uncas, the Mohegans forged a strong alliance with the English. What, you ask, of Sassacus? Ah! Well... there is a quaint little Connecticut town that bears the name "Sachem's Head". There is much more to the story of our first Uncas; very interesting at that! We will tell it in time, but for now, it must wait....
Meanwhile, what of this Uncas twist? It is interesting that James Fenimore Cooper took such a name, is it not? Uncas was the first Mohegan.... and he was the last Mohican! Was Cooper deliberately reversing Uncas? Was he using a curious literary device in his allegory? Is there something more to the Uncas character than first meets the eye? Perhaps there is. One should never underestimate the genius of James Fenimore Cooper!
While on the subject of last and first and Cooper's reverse... What of "The Deerslayer" dilemma? Biographically, this is the first of the "Leatherstocking Tales". Here we meet the infant Uncas and his mother, Wa-ta-wah. Yet, it was the last of the Tales to be written! Curiouser and curiouser... makes one want to throw an unbirthday party!
Ever wonder where that great waterfall is? The huge, rushing torrent of water that Hawkeye, Uncas & Chingachgook leap through? So did we ... for a LONG time! As those of you who have purchased our book already know, it does not exist! But ... you can see that Duncan and the Soldiers, Cora & Alice, Hawkeye & the Mohicans approach the entrance to the cave ... behind those falls! So, what gives?
The rock ledge that the cast walks along en route to "the cave." View is along the ledge in the direction the characters are seen walking.
The scene is shot at one of the locations that comprise Canoes. You can see the upper falls clearly in the THX video version. The huge "lower" falls are computer-generated and do not exist. There are, in fact, lower falls here, simply not as depicted in the film. So, the cast walks along the ledge towards the non-existent falls covering an opening to an imaginary cave!
A view from afar ... the upper falls (which the canoes appear to go over), the ledge (left-center) our fleeing heroes walk along, and then .... nothing!
Nice job of Hollywood magic! Oh, and that IS snow!
Want more Musings? Try the MOHICAN MUSINGS INDEX.
Want to know where LOTM was filmed? Check out our guide book, On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans! Go to A FEW SAMPLES FROM THE BOOK ... a Taste of On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans and MORE ON THE GUIDE BOOK & LOCATIONS.