Last of the Mohicans and Colonial Romance

A few weekends ago I was inspired to pull out the DVD of a movie that I love and watch often – Michael Mann’s 1992 version of The Last of the Mohicans. Though it barely resembles James Fenimore Cooper’s original, the basic premise is present, plus it’s a much better rendition in my opinion.  For me, the movie is a comfort video, even though it’s probably classified as action/adventure with romance.   Set in the New York frontier in 1757 in the middle of the French and Indian War, it portrays the struggle by the British to keep its American Colonies out of the hands of the French and the people caught in the middle.

In the movie, actress Madeleine Stowe is Cora Munroe, the daughter of the British Officer in command of Ft. William Henry. She and her sister, Alice, travel with a company of soldiers, a guide named Magua, and Major Heyward (a man who has feelings for Cora) to the fort commanded by her father.  Along the way, they are attacked by a Huron war party that practically slaughters the entire company before rescue arrives in the form of colonial trappers – Nathaniel Poe, or Hawkeye, played by the incredible Daniel Day-Lewis, and two Mohawks, Chingachgook and Uncas.  From that point on, the focal point is the love that grows between Cora and Nathaniel and the threats they face.

As the movie continues there are themes revolving around a love-triangle, betrayal, a subtle secondary love story, real conflict, survival, tragedy, and then a HEA – of sorts. In the background, yet as much a character as the actors themselves is the beautiful, lush wilderness setting of the Smokey Mountains around Asheville, North Carolina, where the movie was filmed.  Linking all of these elements together is a beautiful musical score by Hans Zimmer, which is a perfect match for the romance/adventure.    

I watched the movie again because I had just finished reading Pamela Clare’s latest American Historical Untamed.  Like so many other times when I’ve watched a great American historical movie or read a novel, I have to wonder, yet again, why more publishers of romance don’t market, buy, or print more American set historicals – especially Colonial.  The possibilities for settings, conflict, and a variety of heroes and heroines are endless.  With Colonial romance, writers can combine elements of British, French, Dutch, Native American, African, even Spanish, with the Colonial spirit of ruggedness, survival, and individualism of self-made heroes and heroines.  There is a struggle built into the setting without it necessarily being a struggle between the hero and heroine.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s just me, but I want more.  

-AAR Heather 

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