Yes, I review old silent films as well (I cook and clean too). Now I didn’t bother to rate The Last of the Mohicans because I don’t believe its really fair to compare it to today’s cinema (or least to cinema after the advent of sound). I view this film as a historical artifact and as such, its really only going to appeal to film history buffs like myself.

The 1920s saw the film business explode. Movies moved away from their vaudevillian roots and became more polished, longer, bigger, and more expensive. Genres began to emerge and the most popular genres of the decade were swashbucklers, melodramas, and historical dramas. The Last of the Mohicans was typical of the kind of movie studios made during this period. Its not a very long movie (about 40 minutes) and the production value is pretty impressive for its time. Apparently, the film is more faithful to the James Fenimore Cooper book than any of the subsequent versions of the movie, including Michael Mann’s 1992 version.

Not surprisingly, this adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans portrays Native Americans in an unflattering light. They are described as ‘savages’ and I’m pretty sure the actors who played them were probably white men who painted themselves dark. I have never read the novel, but I assume Native Americans are described in a similarly racist fashion. However, despite its explicit racism, the film contains some beautiful imagery and shot composition that showed the kind of progress film directors were beginning to make creatively.

In the unlikely event you DO plan on seeing this film, I offer you a word of advice: DO NOT rent the DVD. Watch it on YouTube instead. The DVD transfer is absolutely horrible and practically unwatchable. Not only was it taken off a poor VHS transfer, but the VHS transfer itself came from a horribly scratched copy. The copy that is on YouTube is restored and amazing to look at. The only drawback to the YouTube version is that the person who posted it decided to put his own soundtrack, a part of which is the film score from the Michael Mann version. I wish he/she had stuck to the original music, but I guess you can’t ask for everything when it comes to silent films.

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