THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1920)

Comparison Films

The Last of the Mohicans (1936)

The version made in 1936 completely changes the love triangle that exists in the 1920 version.  The film that was made in 1920 established a love triangle between Cora Munro, Uncas, and Magua, also having Captain Randolph as one or Cora’s interests.  The version made in 1936 puts Hawkeye (Gary Cooper), Alice, and Heyward at the center of the love plot, suppressing Native American presence.  By doing this the 1936 film places the conflict between people who are all pale-skinned and fair-haired.  The 1936 version puts the relationship between Cora, Uncas, and Magua as secondary in importance.  This change in relationship significance leads the audience to believe that relationships that involve miscegenation are only secondary in significance.  The British monarch, George II, is introduced as “German George,” making reference for the audiences to the rise of Nazi Germany.  The character of Hawkeye becomes anti-authoritarian when he refuses to fight with the British.  Hawkeye becomes aware of the Huron's planned attacks and asks Colonel Munro to release the colonial Militia.  In the previous film version Hawkeye plays no significant role and definitely shows no interest in women.  This version of the film shows him deeply drawn to Alice.  In the end of the film, Uncas is killed and Cora is left to be the “squaw” of Magua.  This future leads Cora to jump off a cliff to her death.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

The version of the film that was made in 1992 also takes a completely different spin from the 1920 version.  This film, unlike the previous two versions, expresses a male-dominant society, in which women are mostly absent, with the exception of Cora and Alice Munro.  By the scene of the second ambush, however, Cora has adjusted to this male-centered wilderness by killing a Huron warrior with a pistol.  The role of Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) is again a significant role, if not the most important.  The love relationship here is between Cora and Hawkeye.  The second love relationship then comes between Alice, Uncas, and Magua.  The relationship between Alice and Uncas is plain and undeveloped, and they must suffer the same consequences as Cora and Uncas in the 1920 version.  Even in 1992, a relationship across the races is inconceivable.  The film also holds to the stereotype of the “bad” Indian, like its predecessors, since most of the Indians in all three versions are villains.

Other films:

The Vanishing American (1925)
 
 

Copyright (c) 1999 by Jessica Baker Roche, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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