The Last Cut of the Mohicans?

mohicansWatched The Last of the Mohicans last night, first time I have seen it in, oh, so many years! Like so many films these days, curiously the Blu-ray is a different cut from what was originally seen in cinemas. Maybe this is the final, definitive version. If that even means anything these days. I’m sure some of this films die-hard fans prefer, and still demand, the release of its original version in HD, even though far as I can tell the changes are minor (albeit I am no expert here, its been so many years since I saw it). Reminds me how lucky I am that Blade Runner has all its cuts on its most recent Blu-ray release. People get attached to their films, its an emotional connection and particularly to that version that they know- alterations can turn it into something else, and even some change relatively minor to some can seem major to fans. For myself, I very rarely watch Star Wars anymore because the version available is clearly not the film I fell in love with back in 1978- it feels wrong, somehow. The CGI stuff just irritates me, pulls me out of the movie, to the extent that I just don’t feel I can watch it anymore. I had hoped that now that Disney owns Lucasfilm and the movies that there might be a change of heart there, if only generated by a desire to make some money, but apparently Fox’s involvement in the first film has nixed that possibility. Maybe one day. The mighty dollar always seems to find a way, and I’m fairly certain that it will eventually happen.

So anyway, Mohicans– it remains a fine film, an old-fashioned (rooted in reality, no CGI or over-the-top action sequences) adventure movie. I noticed, watching it this time after so many years, how much the score pummels you into feeling what it thinks you should be feeling. Its a good score, which curiously involved a second composer after the first (Trevor Jones) had to move on to another scoring commitment, but its certainly not what I would call subtle. It works though and is a big part of the films success- there’s some achingly beautiful music. Performances are very good, and I was surprised to spot the great Pete Postlewaite in a very minor role.

I seem to recall fans of Mohicans had issues with the colour timing of this Blu-ray when it came out. It looked fine to me- yes its dark, but I assume that’s a nod towards the natural/ ‘real’ lighting (candle/firelight) of the time in which it is set, such as that of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. I rather liked how it looks but again, I guess you can get attached to what you know. Fans of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly are getting upset with that films remaster (recently released on Blu-ray here)- now I love that film and I’m wary now of watching it. Its just indicative of how films can change these days. Alternate cuts, revised colour-timing… films are not necessarily what we remember. Surely there is an argument that they should be left alone, as if locked in stone? God knows there are enough reboots and remakes as it is without tinkering with the originals.

4 thoughts on “The Last Cut of the Mohicans?

  1. Sometimes it’s hard (heck, sometimes impossible) to know what’s right when it comes to issues like colour timing. “Supervised by [someone originally involved]” is all well and good, but then you get The French Connection and Friedkin’s crazy titting around with it; or anything involving Vittorio Storaro and his insistence on 2.00:1 even when it clearly ruins his own compositions. That’s before you get to the effects of memory — “but that’s not how I remember it from the cinema!” What, when you saw it 30 years ago, with no guarantee it was being projected correctly from a decent-quality print? Sometimes fans are right, of course, and sometimes they’re just picky.

    Re: Star Wars, I believe the Fox thing makes it a proper nightmare to even consider releasing the original original trilogy. I read a piece recently (may’ve been an older piece — “old” as in “when Disney bought Lucasfilm”; either way, I can’t find it in my history) that said a lot of the work done for the 1997 versions already lays the way for good quality versions of the original-originals, so it wouldn’t cost too much because most of the restoration work is already done. However, while distribution rights to Empire and Jedi will revert to Lucasfilm in the next decade or so, Fox own A New Hope in perpetuity. Disney could wait to get the rights to the others, but the only way to release A New Hope (in any version) will be to strike a deal with Fox. So that could be fun…

    (P.S. Last of the Mohicans is another one I’ve never seen, for shame.)

    1. You really should give Mohicans a go!

      Regards colour timing, I forgot to mention Blade Runner. The Final Cut is the definitive version no doubt, with most of the continuity errors fixed, but it does look different with revised colour timing. Curiously, when I watch any of the earlier cuts, for all their problems, they at least look ‘right’, and I find that they somehow feel like the film I love, while the Final Cut feels like, well, something else- something of a Replicant, if you will. Its a subjective thing but it does make me empathise with the Mohican fans and others whose films have been tweaked. I have the new Good, the Bad and the Ugly to watch and I am wary of playing it.

  2. There is an incredible fan edit of Starwars out on the web that uses multiple sources to (re)produce the best possible version, leaving out all the meddling. Well worth a look.

  3. There is an incredible fan edit of Starwars out on the web that restores the magic of the original from multiple sources, leaving out the later meddling. Well worth a look.

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