I received your book and it is a delight. It's so meticulous. Thank you for this memento ... Madeleine Stowe

Guide book STILL Available - Free Downloads Only! In COLOR!



In this array of Mohican Musings Pages, it may become difficult to find what you are looking for. Searching for something? Utilize the MOHICAN MUSINGS INDEX!

Want to compose your own Musings or discuss the film with other fans? Go to the MOHICAN WWW BOARD.

Please consider this ...


What The Well Dressed Frenchman Wore On The Way To Fort William Henry

Ever wonder what a French soldier in 1757 wore, or what necessaries he typically carried? The following excerpt offers a detailed account written by a contemporary. Note the standard issue of a scalping knife, tomahawk, and moccasins, as well as "1 pair of spatterdashes" (leggings).

{Extract of a letter from Albany, dated April 2, 1757 printed in the Boston Gazette, April 18, 1757.}

"This morning an account was bro't to town, that a large army of French and Indians were seen at a small distance from the German flats, but few here believe it. Sir William Johnson is still in readiness, with 1500 of the militia. Every man in the French army that came against Fort William Henry, was equipped in the following manner, viz. With two pair of Indian shoes, 2 pair of stockings, 1 pair of spatterdashes, 1 pair of breechees, 2 jackets, 1 large over-coat, 2 shirts, 2 caps, 1 hat, 1 pair of mittins, 1 tomahawk, 2 pocket-knives, 1 scalping knife, 1 steel and flint, every two men an ax, and every four a kettle and oyl cloth for a tent, with one blanket and a bearskin, and 12 days provision of pork and bread; all which they drew on little hand-sleighs."

The reference to Fort William Henry is that of the February/March '57 campaign, led by Francois-Pierre Rigaud, Governor of Trois Rivieres and brother of Governor-General Vaudreuil. In March the Canadian expedition reached Ft. William Henry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Eyre. (Col. Monro was not yet assigned to the fort.) Having inflicted very little damage beyond burning bateaux and buildings, the snow-shoe clad Canadians retreated across frozen Lake George. Montcalm, disgusted with "brother Rigaud's" failed expedition would yet see to it that the troublesome English fort was defeated.

The Boston Gazette article is reprinted in "The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783". We thank Cathy Johnson for the quote.


What Is A Match Coat?

"Ongewasgone is an unusually large Mohawk in a blue match coat ...", says the LOTM script. And what exactly is a match coat? It is a wool or homespun blanket that was worn as an article of clothing much for the same reason one would wear a jacket or coat. Often secured by a belt from the hip and draped over the shoulder, a match coat had versatility in its usage. It could be worn wrapped like a shawl, tied about the waist, flung across the shoulder, or even draped up over the head much like a hooded cape. It was a useful, sometimes essential, item to have.

In George Washington's Journal of his March 1754 journey to the Ohio, he writes;

" I put myself in an Indian Dress, and continued with them three Days, ... the Horse grew less able to travel every Day; the Cold increased very fast, and the Roads were becoming much worse by a depp [sic] Snow, continually freezing; ... I took my necessary Papers, pulled off my Clothes, tied myself up in a Match Coat, and with my Pack at my Back with my Papers and Provisions in it, and a Gun, set out with Mr. Gist, fitted to the same Manner, on Wednesday the 26th."

Eastern woodland Indians sometimes decorated their match coats with trade beads or silver. They were often traded for or given as gifts. Interesting that Ongewsagone's was blue ... a favorite color scheme of the eastern Indians was blue and red. Once again, Michael Mann paid attention to detail when he took note of Ongewasgone's "blue match coat."


Say nothing to Alice ...

Doesn't that say much about Alice?!! Portrayed by British actress Jodhi May, the younger of the Munro sisters is a portrait of emotional fragility. Thrust suddenly, unexpectedly amidst terror and uncertainty, Alice is unable to cope with the crises she encounters or adjust to a world she can not understand. Panic. Fear. Despair. These are the emotions we find poor Alice exhibiting. The young girl, unlike her sister Cora, lacks the strength or will to overcome, fight, or even face the conflicts into which she unwittingly wades. Her eventual inability to offer even the slightest resistance proves to be a fatal weakness. There is no doubt that the younger of the Munro sisters is not intended as a brave heroine of the tale. Her vulnerabilities, instability, and apathy mark her early on as a tragic figure. What do we make of her? An accidental tourist in a war torn country, or an irresponsible trespasser to a frontier in which she has no place? We are left either pitying Alice the victim, or despising Alice the burden. There is little room for much else.

"... the shrinking figure of Alice he scarcely deigned to notice"

Alice Sketch

"... her eyes fastened on the pale and anxious features of the trembling Alice."

Pitiful as she is, Alice Munro personifies the many well bred, but ill suited English females on the American frontier. Women who were out of place, out of time, in this dangerously complex environment. There were many like her in colonial America and their record of survival along the frontier was less than glorious. Alice is tragic, but not inconsequential. She is meant not as an anomaly to the strength of the human spirit, but as a character to represent a classic conflict; the frailty of woman vs. the fortitude of man. She embodies a theme, a viewpoint expressed in literature that such a woman brings about the downfall of man by introducing an imbalance to HIS natural world. Her presence in the wilderness ... woefully dependent, lacking the sense of reason, little physical or emotional strength, deficient in the essential resources for survival, ... is a catalyst for disorder and danger. She effects the judgment of those around her. Ultimately, she brings about, however unintentionally, the death of Uncas. In this, we find the primary purpose of her creation. The downfall of the tragic hero.

Though nearly lifeless throughout most of the film, Alice was not always so. She did briefly reveal a spark of joy within her before she entered this world of deadly conflicts. Our introduction to the young Miss Munro is in Albany. Following a less than successful plea for marriage to Miss Cora Munro, Major Duncan Heyward is greeted by the very enthusiastic eighteen year old who is beaming with joy over the morrow's adventure. "We leave in the morning?! ... I shan't sleep tonight. ... What an adventure! ... Have you seen the Red Man?" ... At this point, we have a lively Alice, an effervescent Alice, a personality even. It is a moment to remember, for she will lose her joy and innocence, her excitement and exuberance soon enough. The spark will fade quickly as Alice embarks upon her "adventure."

... The George Road; we see Alice physically weak, lacking fortitude to press on. She's tired ... wants to rest. Common enough for those unaccustomed to physical difficulties or hardships of wilderness travels. The party advances toward the safety of Fort William Henry ... and poor Alice approaches the twilight of her young life. In a flash, her world is turned upside down ... her defenses nearly shattered. The Ambush is underway. She is terrified. Even Cora, as she tries to protect her young sister, is nearly frozen with fear. They both cower, unable to grasp what is happening and not daring to presume their fate. But fate favors them that day as a trio of unknown heroes suddenly plunge into the melee. They are protected, rescued. Still confused however, the sisters, along with Duncan, are reluctant to follow their new found protectors. Who is worse ... the savage attackers or these wild men? They are trapped by their own apprehension; not willing to stay, but fearful to go. The three are indecisive, unsure for a moment. Reluctantly, they resolve to go. Despite nearly surreal circumstances, the life spark of Alice is not yet extinguished but flickers momentarily. As the stranger, the "red man", scares off the horses, she reacts with immediate anger, resisting his interference and ready to fight for what she believes to be their only hope for safety. She attacks him. The girl shows spunk ... spirit ... will ... It is to be her last display of a willingness to live; her meager reservoir of spirited emotion is rapidly depleting.

From the Ambush on, Alice is no longer all there. She withdraws further and further within herself, recoiling from the trauma life is offering her. Whatever sparse capabilities to cope with conflicts she once possessed, they are now vanishing. The River Walk, Cameron's Cabin, the Glade ... on through the Fort scene, we are witnessing the accelerated unraveling of Alice Munro. She flashes a brief sign of hope as the escorted party nears the Fort ... she "can't wait to see Papa."

We next see her rush to her father's arms, the sole place of refuge for this traumatized girl. It is the last vestige of emotion we see from Alice that is anything more than horror, fear, or submission to fate. The Massacre ... as chaos breaks loose upon the vanquished column of exiles, Alice does little more than glance around and bury her face. If it weren't for Cora's protection, she would have sat there, frozen, waiting for the next blow to any aspirations of a future. As Cora leads her through the chaos and mayhem, Alice seems unaffected. She is blank. Neither fear nor panic is evident.

At this point Alice appears to have surrendered herself to the winds of fate. A large, muscular Ottawa grabs hold of her, preparing to end her life, but Alice offers no resistance. No fight. No struggle. Her face reveals nothing. She is lost to despair. She's going to die and she doesn't care. Once again, only the timely intervention of her protective sister, followed by a raging defense and subsequent flee to safety courtesy of Hawkeye and Chingachgook, extend her days.

... The Canoes. She is hardly there. They arrive at the Cave. As the party of refugees discuss what to expect next, an oblivious Alice teeters on the edge, ready to allow herself to fall to her death. Intervention once again delays her demise, only this time it is Uncas who is there. He grabs her, pulls her to safety, and comforts her. What follows, though not seen in the final released version of LOTM, is a scene in which the love between Uncas and Alice is finally expressed gently. (Though originally scripted to be more, the scene ultimately filmed was one only of embracing and kissing.) Then the Mohicans must abandon their wards in the hope of saving them ... Shortly thereafter, Alice the captive is led away, along with Duncan and Cora, to the Huron Village. Here she stands; expression is blank. She is locked in a stupor ... she is lost. Judgment is handed down upon the fate of the captives.

... The Cliffs. Her fate proclaimed, Alice is led away by Magua's warriors. She follows along obediently, though somewhat listlessly. Along the Cliffs they travel. Uncas appears. He will fight for her. She is helpless, yet not alone. Here we see Jodhi May's abilities as an actress in full bloom. In a magnificent series of expressions, with not a word uttered, we watch as Alice, for the first time since the Ambush, becomes animated. She is surprised. Afraid. Nearly hopeful. She expresses powerfully what she feels for Uncas. She looks at him ... and he at her. She is terrified at what may happen next. As Uncas so valiantly fights for Alice's life, she is horrified. Her face reveals how heavy her heart is as Uncas is wounded ... stricken with grief when he is fatally slashed and shoved off the Cliff ... disgusted with Magua ... We begin to see something different in Alice. Something resurrects in her spirit. She looks at her captor, and then at the broken body of Uncas. After the fear and horror passes by, she is suddenly overcome with a sense of will, resolve. In Alice's most ironic moment, she is at peace only once she reaches a resolution to surrender. Not to Magua, but to death. She will not go on. She steps back. Ignoring her captive's beckoning gestures, Alice looks at him with an expression of subtle defiance. Her will resurfaces at the moment she decides she has no will. No will to live. No will to fight. No will to allow herself to be Magua's captive. She doesn't fight for freedom, or for her life. Her long awaited resistance to what has been happening to her is found in resistance to life itself. With that, she tearfully looks Magua in the eye ... and steps off the Cliff. In death, Alice seeks peace.

In Michael Mann's characterization of Alice Munro we are offered a pitiful, broken soul. From an excited schoolgirl, she regresses to a frightened child. As weak and helpless as she is however, this cinematic Alice is a pillar of strength compared to Cooper's original creation. In the novel Alice Munro spends more time fainting than she does speaking. The nearly comatose girl is carried so often one wonders if she ever left even a footprint in the American wilderness. Nonetheless, it was the weaker Munro sister who survived the trials and tribulations of her adventure ... and the survivalist, realist Cora who lost her life.


Currently working as Entertainment Director for Shelby, NC TV-33, Noel T. Manning II, back in May of 1991, was working on The Last Of The Mohicans as a Set Production Assistant. In order to determine what looks to use in the film, Michael Mann had people, such as Noel, photographing the various featured extras for the proper costumes and make-up to accurately portray the period. A little background ...

Originally from Eastern North Carolina, I moved to Nassau Bahamas in 1986 to serve as a Special Projects Assistant for the Island's Salvation Army. While I was there I decided to go to college and further my education (I graduated high school in 1983 and worked in Radio, Music Sales and worked every Summer at the North Carolina based Salvation Army camp in Denton, NC.) I was hoping to explore my interest in the Communications field (Film, TV, Radio, Drama), and I eventually ended up moving to the BOOMING metropolis of BOILING SPRINGS, NC (1 hour from Ashville) to attend Gardner-Webb University in the fall of 1988. While there, I balanced my Education well with extra curricular activities (My Sophomore year I was elected to a Student Government Association office - Chairman of Student Entertainment). It was responsible for numerous aspects of Campus Activities (Concerts, Comedians, Special Events, etc.) And I served as Entertainment Editor for the University Newspaper and a Movie Critic for a local newspaper, The Cleveland Observer.

In the spring of 1991 while taking a Film course at GWU we had a guest speaker (Steven Brock) that had worked on over 30 films . After class, I spoke with him about future North Carolina projects (I was looking for a Summer Internship for College Credit). He relayed information to me and a fellow student about a film being shot in the Asheville area called THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS !!!!

Early May, 1991 - I, along with the other student (Brian Nicholson) set out on a journey to find the production offices to offer our services!!! We basically went in to the office ... told them we were students ... and that we wanted an opportunity to work on this production .... we needed it for college credit ... and that we'd even sweep floors if we had to!!!! And we'd do it for FREE!!!! I think that's what got us the job! The FREE part!

Mid-May 1991 - We became interns (Production Assistants) with the Assistant Director's Office and within a couple of weeks we became HIRED help!!

Working in the AD's office was a great place to be because it seemed to be the CENTER of the action! We were able to work with various crews (Cameras, Special Effects, Locations, Casting, Make-up, Wardrobe, Props, etc.) ... and that was probably the coolest part, because we were able to see THE BIG PICTURE!!! Working with so many different diverse groups, we were not stuck in one specific area every day!

I have special memories of the Huron Core group and the 35th Regiment ... we worked closely with them during the entire pre-production training exercises and through the final shot!... and do I have some stories about them.

I kept a journal each day of the shoot and have chronicles of chaos, mayhem and mass destruction!! (But all that was before the cameras started rolling). This project was a turning point in my life and opened my mind to what was yet to come!

Since the end of that project, I have gone on to receive my degree (cum laude) in Communications Studies... Marry a woman that I fell in love with while working on MOHICANS (she actually worked in Hair on the project at Massacre Valley)... Have a daughter ... serve as Senior Producer & Entertainment Correspondent for a CNN affiliate in Shelby, North Carolina ... and even Produce, Direct, Edit and Co-write an Award Winning documentary on North Carolina pioneer film maker Earl Owensby!


For a detailed look at some of the planning and production that went on BEFORE LOTM was actually filmed, go to the:



Lake James

Serving as the backdrop for nearly one third of The Last of the Mohicans is beautiful Lake James. Its shores were home to Fort William Henry and the French encampment. Its waters carried the Mohicans and their rescued wards from Haney's Bluff to the temporary safety of the fort. The Parley is undertaken along its banks. For recreating historic Lake George, this man made lake was perfect.

Easily capturing one's attention with its serene beauty, the 3/4 century old lake was created over a period of seven years, from 1916 to 1923. Named for the founder of Duke Power Company, James B. Duke, the lake was formed to serve as a hydroelectric source for the growing company and serves as such even today. With more than 150 miles of shoreline and measuring 6500 acres, Lake James is huge. It is shared by two counties, Burke and McDowell.

The state of North Carolina purchased 565 acres of southern shoreline to create the Lake James State Park. Several miles west of the fort location, the park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and swimming within the forested shorelines. Gorgeous Azaleas, dogwoods, and evergreens envelope the lake waters and provide thickly wooded shelter for mink, muskrat, deer, flying squirrels, and fox.

The incredibly beautiful Lake James provided stunning scenery for not only LOTM, but also The Hunt for Red October. Filmed in nearly the exact spot, at the Linville Access area, the 'river' seen in Red October is none other than LOTM's Lake James. Could 'James' be an up and coming star?



Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Guys!

Creating a quality film is not only costly, it's very tedious work. Far from the glamorous experience that many imagine it is, working on a production project can be drudgery. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny details that will be barely noticed, if noticed at all, by most eyes are meticulously attended to in the process of producing the final, polished cinematic product. Costumes, props, make-up, scenery, lighting ... the list goes on and on. To a perfectionist director, details are never trivial, never overlooked.

LOTM has its share, or burden perhaps, of tiny details that required an excess of work, money, time, attention, and planning. One area in which this was evident is landscaping. Though it is easy to overlook, or perhaps undervalue, the film is rich in its perfection of landscaping details. Beyond the natural breathtaking vistas, mists, and forests; the aesthetic creations that Mann envisioned in the final imagery would only appear after much planning and green thumbs in action. The fort at Lake James ... An exhaustive amount of labor and lumber was needed to create an accurate replica of historic Fort William Henry, faithful to the original fort's size, shape, proximity to the lake, and so on. As impressive as the physical fort structure is on the screen, there were yet other "details" in need of attention for completion of the fort that can not be appreciated in a visual context. Planting and paving are two examples of these tasks that went beyond the film imagery. In granting permission to cut and clear, construct and film, Duke Power also required 20th Century Fox to replant the entire area with seedlings once filming was completed. Environmental, projected aesthetics, and accessibility considerations proved to be as pressing as weather, lighting, and shoot schedules. Mann's crew had not only the responsibility of cutting, clearing, building, and burning to recreate realistic fort scenes, they had to re-clear, grade, and celebrate Arbor Day before their work was over. As if that were not enough, the Linville Access Parking Lot, dirt at the time, had to be paved.

The Manor Inn, site of General Webb's headquarters, needed to be refaced before shooting in order to depict the colonial architectural style of Albany. Trees and shrubs had to be planted to create just the RIGHT look. After the filming was completed, Mann's crew then had to remove that which they had added. Mann was allowed to play as long as he promised to clean up his mess and put everything back.

The Elk Hunt Scene, which was filmed within a heavily wooded area, needed paths and trails to allow for running without breaking one's neck, as well as to accommodate cameras, crew, and whatever necessary equipment. To obtain permission to film in such wilderness area, once again, Mann was obliged to restore the woods as they were; no paths, no trails, no signs of their presence were to be left behind. Such a thorough job of this was done, that it was difficult for the Forest Service rangers to relocate these sites for us while we researched the booklet!

Then there is Chimney Rock Park. While the natural landscape itself was not altered, the railings that lined the precipitous edges of the cliff trails had to be removed ... and then put back. And a Huron village (the ONLY man-made residue of the filming still standing!) had to be created as well. As one can see, making movies is much more complicated than rolling the camera in the location of choice... even when much of the scenery is natural wilderness!

The most interesting landscaping challenge was probably Massacre Valley. Before filming was scheduled to begin, the "valley", which was at the time a swamp, had to be drained. After that overhaul, the entire area had to be seeded. Grass had to be planted well in advance, with time enough to allow it to grow to an appreciable height. That's not all. Apparently Michael Mann's eye, ever searching for perfection in his creations, foresaw the effect he wanted and it was more precise, more natural than merely tall grasses. He wanted the "valley" to realistically depict a wild meadow; and that meant wild flowers. Thus the site not only required draining, prepping, and grass seed, it had to also be seeded with wildflowers. The real task, however, was not in the sowing, but in the stepping. Within all those lush grasses were thousands and thousands of beautiful, glorious wildflowers. And these were no ordinary wildflowers. These were Michael Mann Prop Wildflowers and no one steps on flowers such as these. No one.

During rehearsals and final shooting, while hundreds of people were trampling through the "valley" grounds, the one pressing thought that had been drilled into their heads, more pressing than "Action!", was "DO NOT STEP ON THE FLOWERS!" Imagine the armies of feet marching along in the vanquished column, dashing suddenly from the adjacent wood, tangling, running, kicking, and stepping ... but always those feet must tread lightly near the flowers. How insane it must have seemed under the circumstances. How does one avoid crushing flora whilst engaged in mortal combat? According to Eric Hurley (Soldier #2), that's exactly what all were asked to accomplish. Attack. Kill. Flip. Run. Jump. Die. But whatever you do, DO NOT STEP ON THE FLOWERS! One must wonder whether Nureyev himself could have perfected such choreography and precision battle steps without crushing Mann's bouquets. Alas! Somehow, with very little loss of petals, the magnificent feat was accomplished. It gives a new twist to the words "stop and smell the roses!"


Quotable Quotes ... part 2 (continued from MORE, MORE MOHICAN MUSINGS)

Michael Mann is without doubt the most driven director I have ever met. ... Madeleine Stowe

The fun in making a film is the thrill of getting to go into a world foreign to you and immersing yourself in it. You crack the books and get to work ... Filmmaking is all about the palette. I'm interested in the quality of light on people's faces in candlelight or the sound of wind which makes you feel lonely. ... Michael Mann

I thought at first he was always angry at something. Like, 'What's wrong with Daniel? Is he okay?' He tends to close himself off a little bit, walks around looking at the ground. Total concentration. His concentrating 100 percent of the time makes you work twice as hard. I did some boxing with Daniel and it's the same there: he would never stop. He would hit you and hit you, until you couldn't go on. He just has this thing within him, an amazing driving force. ... Steven Waddington

We have this unconscious kind of assumption that in technologically simpler times, things were less complex. One of the big ambitions I had was to vivify 1757, to make that reality and those people and their passions have as much impact as complex drama happening in 1992. ... Michael Mann

Of Special Note: (quoted from the Edmonton Journal: 9/25/92) The perfectionist almost wouldn't leave. He [Michael Mann] was still reshooting a love scene in Chimney Rock, NC on Aug. 20 - yes, four weeks ago - before showing the finished film to critics nine days later ... Russell Means ... originally ended Last of the Mohicans with a pessimistic speech about the future in which his character, Chingachgook, foresees the day when all Indians will be assimilated into white culture or killed. Director Michael Mann says he trimmed that monologue because the film came in at two hours and seven minutes, about 15 minutes longer than the version that will be released ... Fox executives [Means] implies, were reluctant to ruffle white audiences and even asked if the dinner table scene, at which natives eat and converse with white settlers on a basis of equality, were necessary.


See Also:


Want To Know Where LOTM Was Filmed?

A FEW SAMPLES FROM THE BOOK ... a Taste of On The Trail Of The Last Of The Mohicans || HOW TO PURCHASE THE BOOK ... Ordering Information || MORE ON THE GUIDE BOOK & LOCATIONS

Looking For CD's, Videos, Gifts & Crafts? Browse Our MOHICAN PRESS TRADING POSTS ... Storefronts on the Frontier

    Home PageMenu PageTable Of ContentsE-Mail

    Last Update: 10/02/1998


    Copyright © 1997 - 2020 by Mohican Press - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - Use of material elsewhere - including text, images, and effects - without our expressed, written permission, constitutes copyright infringement! Personal use on your own home PC is permissible!