Last of the Mohicans: Differents Between the Book and Movie


The book Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper was very
different from the movie Last of the Mohicans in terms of the storyline.
However, I feel that the producer and director of this movie did a good job
of preserving Cooper\'s original vision of the classic American man
surviving in the wilderness, while possibly presenting it better than the
book originally did and in a more believable fashion to a late twentieth
century reader.

The makers of the movie Last of the Mohicans preserved Cooper\'s central
ideas and themes very well, the most important of which is the question,
what makes a man? Very few books that I have read contain such a clear
sense of what a man should be as Last of the Mohicans. Cooper portrays the
hero, Hawkeye, as brave, independent, and skillful in the ways of the
woods. He is a tracker, he can hit a target with a bullet from any
distance, he can fight the evil Iroquois Indians without batting so much as
an eyelash. The makers of the movie take great pains to preserve these
facets of Hawkeye, but then go beyond what Cooper originally laid down as
the basis for his hero\'s character. In the book, Hawkeye displays very
little feeling and the reader has very little empathy with him, even though
he is the hero. In the movie, however, there is a great romance between
Hawkeye and Cora that does not exist in the book. This romance adds a more
human side to Hawkeye\'s character; it show s his caring side beyond all
the hero-woodsman qualities--in other words, the non-Rambo, late twentieth
century version of a hero. Every hero should have a woman at his side, and
the makers of the movie, realizing this, transfer Cora from Uncas\' side to
Hawkeye\'s. This I think was a wise choice because it gave the viewer more
things in common with the hero and thus made Hawkeye a more human hero and
therefore more comprehensible to the late twentieth century viewer.

One thing the makers of the movie attempted to keep was the vision
portrayed in the book of sweeping landscapes, gigantic trees, dark forests,
crashing waterfalls, and other impressive features of nature. This again
was a wise choice, seeing as how part of Cooper\'s vision was the goodness
and power of nature. However, once again I think the film presented this
facet better than the book did, although this time it was not due to a
feature Cooper left out but instead was simply due to the fact that film
presents such features in a more vivid, more appealing way than pages of
descriptive passage. (This again may be the bias of a late twentieth
century viewer/reader, as we are used to having our images presented in a
graphic, immediate way, rather than allowing our imaginations to conjure up
pictures from the written word.)

One thing the makers of the movie left out that was originally in the
book was the character of David Gamut, the psalmist. Of all the characters
in the book I felt his was best developed by Cooper; almost all of the
others were cardboard characters with no depth. Gamut, however, is at the
beginning portrayed as anything but a hero He is gawky, doesn\'t believe in
killing other men (even Indians), and is something of what we would today
call a nerd. However, he goes through many "trials by fire" and in the end
is shaped into Cooper\'s version of the American man. David Gamut amused me
as the story went along and his presence certainly lightened things up
compared to the constant sense of foreboding that pervades the book.
However, the movie makers sadly left out his character altogether. Though
David Gamut was not an important part of Cooper\'s vision, he still played a
part in it. He developed throughout the book from a wimpy coward to one
who took up arms in the final battle, placing his life in God\'s hands and
throwing caution to the wind. I cannot see a reason for removing his
character other than the producers possibly wishing to remove all semblance
of comedy from the movie and thus make it a very serious film. I think
this is a stupid reason, because his character added much more to the story
than a few jokes, and had I been the director I would have included his
character, perhaps even embellished it in the same manner as Hawkeye.

Another alteration the movie made from the book was in the