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No better movie about America's Founding (Last of the Mohicans)

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abott1776
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It is subtle but I can think of no better movie that even touches the political philosophy, culture, and even implicit ethics behind the American Revolution. They only explicitly talk about it in a few verbal skirmishes between the colonials and the British soldiers, and in one scene amongst colonials, but when they do it is pretty poignant.

 

The first scene, when Hawkeye speaks up to the British officer on horseback, basically says that it is not in the colonials interests to fight the French, and are not subjects of anyone.

 

The scene where Hawkeye tries to inform the colonel at the fort that the colonials homes are being attacked, clearly is a foreshadowing, and summation, of the relationship between the colonials and the motherland. The colonials simply want to protect their lives, property, and way of life, as opposed to the motherlands designs on empirehood and all that demands (fighting war after war, stratification of society, loyalty as opposed to reasoned decisions). Hawkeye says to the lying Major that "someday you and I are going to have a serious disagreement", foreshadowing American Revolution anybody?

 

When the colonials are discussing amongst themselves what to do about their homes being attacked and being stopped by the colonel, one man talks about how because English law is no longer being applied since the British soldiers use it at their discretion, that to live under their designs is to live under tyranny. This is clearly applying the idea of Objective law, mostly implicitly.

 

The movie as a whole demonstrates the culture of the Americans, they use reason and argumentation to make decisions as seen with their many skirmishes with the British, and talking amongst themselves. Therefore, they implicitly think that reason is practical and a tool of their survival. The British notice this, and is shown in the scene where the Major notices that they have to negotiate terms of service for the militias (the ability to leave and defend their homes). The Americans are valuers, in the scene when they decide to go back and defend their homes, some don't, like Hawkeye who clearly values Madeleine Stowe's character. They use reason to make their best judgement in trying to attain or keep their values. The Americans are clearly children of the Age of Reason.

 

Today it is sooooooo different, people could never hold a conversation as serious as the one between the colonials about political philosophy, the theory that they are applying is really integrated into their lives. Today, if people even get to talking about political philosophy let alone politics, it is a series of misunderstand, random punch lines.

 

The scene with the colonel and the colonials, as well as the colonials amongst themselves, can be found in this video on youtube:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol2zOQXmQLs

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God how I loved studying American Revolutionary War history! It's been some years, but the entire magnificent picture comes together in my mind. (OK, sometimes I have use Google to refresh my facts.)

I remember taking a date to see this film back in 1992. (She liked Daniel Day-Lewis; I got the benefits.) Originally, I was drawn to the extreme details to authenticity, especially applied to the muzzle-loading rifles, hand-to-hand combat, costuming, and other things related to recreating the period. And yet I was taken completely by surprise with the staging of certain scenes, certain shots that resembled canvases from the Romantic Era. Look for them. This an exceptional piece of cinema; I've had it in my collection for years on tape. Perhaps it's time I got it on disc as well.

Abott1776 selected a scene from the film that depicts the political and cultural distinctions of the British from the American colonists. One has to consider that Americans were as interested in expanding into the wilderness as the British were determined to building a global empire. The British cultural norm, that American colonists were merely subjects of the King, was taken for granted. Americans had a cultural norm that the King, while being their sovereign, he was a distant and disinterested sovereign, and had little to control over them. The Colonists had powerful designs on the western frontiers, and the King, (and Parliament) often thwarted colonial ambitions with limits to the Colonists' encroachments. All of this was designed to uphold treaties with the French, or in certain cases Native-Americans. To be sure, the Colonists had long disregarded restrictions, just as they disregarded paying duties on imports under British regulations. As shown in the film clip, the Colonists thoroughly resented being regarded as pawns in the global game of empire, yet their empire of new settlements depended on British support. What is not shown is that the Colonists did create conflict on the frontiers with there unrestricted expansion of new settlements. This is not to say that the Colonists didn't pay for the land. Often they had to pay twice, first in trade, and then through combat against their Native-American real estate brokers.

A Virginian of several generations of accumulated wealth, George Washington, enlisted his services to the King, no doubt in hopes of securing his own piece of new empire with the King's approval. But his aspirations of greater fortune were sunk, in 1755, as he lead a party of British General Braddock's troops through Indian territory. Washington pleaded with Braddock not to use that route, but Braddock saw no threat from mere savages. The Battle of Monongahela proved Braddock not only was very much mistaken, but resulted in his death. If only Americans realized what a swashbuckler young George was; he could have been depicted as an action hero, leading the troops through chaos to safety. For his reward, Washington received a reprimand, and perhaps a damn good reason to resent British arrogance, just as our heroes in the film.

 

In any case, anyone interested in an outstanding period-piece would enjoy Last of the Mohicans, and I hope you do.

 

On the subject of modern Americans, we've become a society of consumers. We seem to have lost any idealism about achievement, substituting it for acquisition of things. While this may not apply to all, and it is not the most terrible development, it concerns me that the pioneer spirit, the rugged individualism of an earlier time is reduced to such a minute few. The vast majority simply buy things, and when something new comes along, like zombies seeking fresh brains, they go on another spending rampage. That insatiable consumer mentality, so prevalent in our times, crushes the minds of many young people with distractions of buying things, or even racking up college credits, thus racking up credit debt, and in the end, the only ambition they have left is spending the remainder of their lives trying to improve their credit ratings.

Edited by Repairman
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I very never seen the movie, but based on your review I feel like I may now.

I really enjoyed Ed Cline's Sparrowhawk Series , the characters and their motivations were wonderfully presented and not very subtly at that :)

 

I read the Sparrowhawk series, like a crack addict, it was really engrossing, and I would resent reading his books too fast because I didn't want them to end. Him as well as Terry Goodkind, rereading his books right now. I am also reading Ed Cline's detective novels too!

 

Yeah, watch the movie, you won't regret it. Besides the historicity of it, it is a good story itself. Very romantic aesthetically, grand vistas, brave men and women, people taking action according to their judgement.

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God how I loved studying American Revolutionary War history! It's been some years, but the entire magnificent picture comes together in my mind. (OK, sometimes I have use Google to refresh my facts.)

I remember taking a date to see this film back in 1992. (She liked Daniel Day-Lewis; I got the benefits.) Originally, I was drawn to the extreme details to authenticity, especially applied to the muzzle-loading rifles, hand-to-hand combat, costuming, and other things related to recreating the period. And yet I was taken completely by surprise with the staging of certain scenes, certain shots that resembled canvases from the Romantic Era. Look for them. This an exceptional piece of cinema; I've had it in my collection for years on tape. Perhaps it's time I got it on disc as well.

Abott1776 selected a scene from the film that depicts the political and cultural distinctions of the British from the American colonists. One has to consider that Americans were as interested in expanding into the wilderness as the British were determined to building a global empire. The British cultural norm, that American colonists were merely subjects of the King, was taken for granted. Americans had a cultural norm that the King, while being their sovereign, he was a distant and disinterested sovereign, and had little to control over them. The Colonists had powerful designs on the western frontiers, and the King, (and Parliament) often thwarted colonial ambitions with limits to the Colonists' encroachments. All of this was designed to uphold treaties with the French, or in certain cases Native-Americans. To be sure, the Colonists had long disregarded restrictions, just as they disregarded paying duties on imports under British regulations. As shown in the film clip, the Colonists thoroughly resented being regarded as pawns in the global game of empire, yet their empire of new settlements depended on British support. What is not shown is that the Colonists did create conflict on the frontiers with there unrestricted expansion of new settlements. This is not to say that the Colonists didn't pay for the land. Often they had to pay twice, first in trade, and then through combat against their Native-American real estate brokers.

A Virginian of several generations of accumulated wealth, George Washington, enlisted his services to the King, no doubt in hopes of securing his own piece of new empire with the King's approval. But his aspirations of greater fortune were sunk, in 1755, as he lead a party of British General Braddock's troops through Indian territory. Washington pleaded with Braddock not to use that route, but Braddock saw no threat from mere savages. The Battle of Monongahela proved Braddock not only was very much mistaken, but resulted in his death. If only Americans realized what a swashbuckler young George was; he could have been depicted as an action hero, leading the troops through chaos to safety. For his reward, Washington received a reprimand, and perhaps a damn good reason to resent British arrogance, just as our heroes in the film.

 

In any case, anyone interested in an outstanding period-piece would enjoy Last of the Mohicans, and I hope you do.

 

On the subject of modern Americans, we've become a society of consumers. We seem to have lost any idealism about achievement, substituting it for acquisition of things. While this may not apply to all, and it is not the most terrible development, it concerns me that the pioneer spirit, the rugged individualism of an earlier time is reduced to such a minute few. The vast majority simply buy things, and when something new comes along, like zombies seeking fresh brains, they go on another spending rampage. That insatiable consumer mentality, so prevalent in our times, crushes the minds of many young people with distractions of buying things, or even racking up college credits, thus racking up credit debt, and in the end, the only ambition they have left is spending the remainder of their lives trying to improve their credit ratings.

 

Yep, the issue of taxation was not the only rift between the colonials and the motherland, but what to do about the natives, and settling westward.

 

I love Daniel Day-Lewis in most of his films, and despite what some may say about There Will Be Blood, it is one of my favorite movies as well.

 

Yeah, I think consumerism has morphed from a healthy American obsession with the new, and with material wealth in general. Comparing culture then and now, I am more disheartened with the lack of longterm thinking, and of principles, by just ordinary people (not talking about idealistic hippie college students, who think in terms of whatever ideas they are fed). Like that presumably farmer/rancher in the movie, the guy that is in charge of the militia, he thinks in principles, and about the longterm. And he acts on them. Today, people can barely think past 5 years, and only about a narrow topic like career, family, etc. But they lose the big picture of their relationship with society, ethics, etc. In essence back then people could at least appreciate new thinking in philosophy and science, if not do some of that thinking themselves.

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