Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline Stowe, Wes Studi, the battles, the music, the earthporn, the romance... The Last of the Mohicans is a film with something for everyone. Based on James Fenimore Cooper's classic novel set during the pre-revolutionary French and Indian War, Mohicans has been adapted into films since 1920. However, none of them captures sweeping majesty of burgeoning America quite like director Michael Mann's 1992 version. This month, the film celebrates its 25th anniversary and we want to pay tribute. Here are 25 things you may not know about The Last of the Mohicans.
1. Hawkeye's name was changed from Natty Bumppo in the novel to Nathaniel Poe in the movie. Mann wanted to avoid audiences snickering at the original name.
2. The Last of the Mohicans has been adapted into nine films, at least four TV movies, and assorted radio broadcasts. Mann has said he was inspired to make his own version from watching the 1936 film as a child.
3. Cast as Hawkeye, 31-year-old Daniel Day-Lewis took his first Hollywood film seriously. He lived as an 18th century American Indian for weeks before production commenced. "If he didn't shoot it, he didn't eat it." Said Mann.
4. Mohicans was filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, not New York where it's set. Mann thought the forests in Carolina looked more like the old Adirondacks. Many scenes were shot at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt's North Carolina estate.
5. Over nine hundred Native Americans from all over the United States were employed for the shoot.
6. Madeleine Stowe, who plays Cora Munro, was initially reluctant to audition for an action film. She agreed to do it when she realized it was also a romance.
7. Andie MacDowell and Kim Raver were also considered for the role of Cora.
8. Richard E. Grant and Hugh Grant were each considered for the role of Maj. Duncan Heyward. The part would go to Steven Waddington.
9. The massive Fort William Henry set was constructed at a cost of $6 million. It was carefully planned and constructed to look like the real thing.
10. The props and costumes were also detailed to look authentic. Great care was taken to make the weapons, especially. Master bladesmith Daniel Winkler made the tomahawks used in the film and knifemaker Randall King made the knives. Wayne Watson is the maker of Hawkeye's "Killdeer" rifle used in the film. The gunstock war club made for Chingachgook was created by Jim Yellow Eagle. Magua's tomahawk was made by Fred A. Mitchell of Odin Forge & Fabrication.
11. Mann (and everyone) spent long hours on the Mohicans set thanks to the director's insistence on many takes. Most scenes were shot 20 or more times. Eventually, the studio sent someone simply to urge Mann to move to the next scene.
12. Mann battled with Fox throughout production. His first cut of the film was three hours and he was told to cut it down, which delayed the initial release (it was slated for summer of 1992). In the end, the movie was trimmed to 112 minutes, something Mann never felt good about as he thought he was rushed to finish it. For the home release, Fox allowed Mann to re-edit the entire movie. This final version is 117 minutes and the only one available on blu-ray/DVD.
13. Jodhi May, who plays Alice Munro, was 16-years-old during filming and her mother was on set to make sure she didn't have any love scenes. May has said most of her performance was cut out of the movie.
14. Michael Mann did not allow the actors to use stand-ins.
15. Day-Lewis trained with Capt. Dale Dye, USMC to develop his shooting and hand-to-hand combat skills. Dye has been in many war movies, from Platoon to Saving Private Ryan.
16. To fully realize the large-scale battle sequences, hundreds of extras went through months of fight training before the film started shooting.
17. Basketballs spray-painted black were used as cannonballs.
18. Mike Phillips' character is listed as "Sachem" in the credits, but that's not his name. Sachem is a title that means "wise one" or "chief." The character's actual name is Tamenund, although it's never said in the film.
19. Mann re-shot the waterfall scene nine days before showing the movie to reviewers.
20. There's a Wilhelm Scream inserted at the 98 minute mark when Hawkeye bludgeons a dude in the face.
21. The 1992 film is very different from Cooper's original novel. Spoiler alert! In the book, Cora dies at the end, not Alice. Colonel Munro and Duncan Heyward are killed in the movie, but they survive in the book.
22. While filming the canoe scenes, the canoe always tipped. F. Curtis Gaston, Soldier Number One, recalled having to save the upset Jodhi May from the cold waters.
23. The main theme of the movie is taken from the tune "The Gael" by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean on his 1990 album The Search.
24. Montcalm orders a "Capitaine de Bougainville" to read the captured dispatch from General Webb to Colonel Munro. This is a reference to Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, a French soldier and explorer.
25. While it's considered the first great American novel, The Last of the Mohicans was reviled by many critics and fellow authors. One especially loud voice was Mark Twain whose 1895 essay Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses was published in North American Review. When the 1992 movie debuted, critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "quite an improvement on Cooper's all but unreadable book."
h/t to IMDb, Wikipedia.