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A Rip-Roaring, Very Gory and Violent, Adventure Which Benefits From An Upgrade to Blu-ray
on 25 October 2015
My first few viewings of this terrific Michael Mann period-adventure/drama (made in 1992) left me just as impressed as all his other efforts, with it's intense character-development, realism, attention to detail, strong musical soundtrack along with, this time and unusually for Mann, a big helping of smouldering romance.
So, as I own the initial-release R1 DVD any Blu-ray release which promised improvement was likely to tempt me - now I've got and watched it I can safely say that it DOES offer an improvement in all respects.
If you need to learn a bit about the plot, the Amazon synopsis does a good job without any real spoilers.
Luckily I was not deterred by the simply awful disc case cover art, which is a poor piece of artwork (as opposed to an image from the film) depicting the lead character, played by the magnificent Daniel Day-Lewis, so 'artificially' I have some concern that it will have ensured lower sales of this relatively new release !
Watching in HD for the first time it is entirely possible that even more people will be turned-off by the regular periods of 'darkness' and 'muffled' sound, but that would be unfair as (like the equally brilliant 'Master & Commander') many scenes are in dark areas or at night and. as far as I'm concerned, Mann usually tries as much as possible to keep both the original 'live' dialogue and lighting conditions in his films....
So (and despite that box artwork I mentioned !), this release maintains the Mann traits of realistic settings and sound, so those used to ADR-rich films and 'over-illuminated' sets will be disappointed !
Despite darkness things are still sharp, clear and full of contrast and when we see daylight scenes the, for example, costumes and foliage are brilliant with colour and lushness. Similarly, as we are often hearing voices recorded in their original setting, with everything else going on, it does mean you have to pay attention with your ears as well !
[A good example of this, from another Mann film, is with 'Public Enemies' where conversations held inside vehicles are viewed AND recorded from outside, so the voices are heard after passing through a windscreen ie as it would be for real !]
With 'The Last of the Mohicans' we also get a truly nasty 'villain' who is also responsible for quite a bit of the fairly frequent violence and extreme gore (eg scalpings, organ removal from still-alive victims) which is graphically depicted in this film, so you have been warned. In contrast, we also are treated to one of the most emotional and intense, yet 'non-explicit', love scenes played-out to a terrific musical soundtrack that I think you will ever see....
Ultimately though, this film is about the story-telling and, again, as Mann is not exactly known for spoon-feeding his audience you will have to keep up with character names and intentions etc to fully appreciate what occurs. Along with a multitude of fantastic set-piece 'combat' scenes (from intense hand-to-hand-fighting to dramatic artillery barrages), for me, this ensures that entertainment is maintained throughout - not forgetting the usual Mann excellence in producing a memorable musical soundtrack of course....
All those aspects are presented as good as I hoped for, with those previously mentioned visual 'traits' and some powerful sections of sound, such as that dramatic artillery barrage. The added bonus with this disc is the inclusion of a Mann commentary and lengthy production featurette.
I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.
This film is not for everyone, due to both the storyline and Mann production 'habits', but if you like it already or are willing to give it a try for the first time I don't think that you will be disappointed.