Writer-director Michael Mann took a break from contemporary crime thrillers like “Thief” and “Manhunter” for this lavish adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s classic 1826 novel (though some would argue that it resembles George B. Seitz’s 1936 film version more than the original book). The story takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War, during which the French and British armies called on various Native American tribes to join their respective causes as they battled for control of the North American colonies. However, any and all historical context is but a backdrop for what is essentially a lusty gothic romance, chronicling the relationship between Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe), the daughter of a British officer, and Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), a colonial man raised as a Mohican since childhood; their seemingly impossible love affair is further complicated when they run afoul of Magua (Wes Studi), the ruthless leader of a Huron war party with a major grudge against all these white people running around. Michael Mann brings his trademark attention to even the smallest details in recreating a long-gone and rather mythic time and place, with special care in particular taken to making the weapons (particularly Hawkeye’s classic Pennsylvania long rifle) and costumes as authentic as possible; it’s a safe bet to assume that upstate New York circa 1757 actually looked pretty close to what you see here (even though the film was shot in North Carolina). Those who remember their high school English may recall that Hawkeye’s real name in the novel is Natty Bumppo; it was changed to “Nathaniel Poe” for the film to avoid titters from the audience. – IFC Staff