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The Last of the Mohicans

By Randy Thomas,2014-05-22 00:31
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The Last of the Mohicans

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THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS

    Screenplay

    by

    Michael Mann and Christopher Crowe

    Based on the Novel

    by

    James Fenimore Cooper

PART 1

FADE IN

    The screen is a microcosm of leaf, crystal drops of precipitation, a stone, emerald green moss. It's a landscape in miniature. We HEAR the forest. Some distant birds. Their sound seems to reverberate as if in a cavern. A piece of sunlight refracts within the drops of water, paints a patch of moss yellow. The whisper of wind is joined by another sound that mixes with it. A distant rustling. It gets closer and louder. It's shallow breathing. It gets ominous. We're interlopers on the floor of the forest and something is coming.

    SUDDENLY: A MOCCASINED FOOT

rockets through the frame scaring us and ...

    EXTREMELY CLOSE: PART OF AN INDIAN FACE

    running hard. His head shaved bald except for a scalp-lock. Tattoos. He's twenty-five. He seems tall and muscled. Heavy, even breathing. We'll learn later this man is UNCAS, the last of the Mohicans.

PROFILE: UNCAS' ARMS

    flash as he runs. One carries a flintlock musket. Sweat on the man's skin. A calico shirt is gathered at the waist with a wampum belt of small white beads over a breechcloth. He wears leggings to protect his legs. A long-handled tomahawk is stuffed in his belt.

    CUT TO ...

    ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST - MASSIVE WAR CLUB - DAY

    in the hand of another running man. He's heavier, older ...

CHEST

    A green bear claw is tattooed there. Silver armband. A snake is tattooed over his left eyebrow. Silver rings in his ear. He's forty to forty-five. His head is shaved into a scalp-lock. It says: "Come and lift this from me. Take it, if you can ..." That prospect strikes us as extremely unlikely. This man is CHINGACHGOOK. The French call him "Le Gros Serpent," the Great Snake, because

    "he knows the winding ways of men's nature and he can strike a sudden, deathly blow." WIDE ANGLE: CHINGACHGOOK

    runs, disturbing no leaves, no branches; making no sound. He's running parallel to Uncas through the cathedral of mature forest. It's heavily canopied. There's very little brush. The girth of the trees is huge. Shafts of light illuminate motes of dust and turn leaves emerald where the sun breaks through. Sometimes there's ferns; rhododendron, sometimes pale grass and outcroppings of rock.

    These men run the forest streams, over boulders, fallen trees and down into ravines as if they own them. They do.

    CUT TO ...

    ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST - LONG BLACK HAIR - DAY

    rocketing through trees. His torn buckskin shirt is tied at the waist with a wampum belt holding a tomahawk and a large knife. A long rifle in which is carved the name "Killdeer" is in his right fist. Indian tattooing on his chest.

    His name is NATHANIEL POE. He's a few years older than Uncas. The French and the French-speaking tribes know him as La Longue Carabine (Long Rifle). Other frontiersmen in New York colony and the Iroquois and Delaware-speaking tribes know him as Hawkeye. Sweat stains his shirt. He flashes through the tree branches disturbing nothing. Making no sound.

    HAWKEYE'S POV: A PIECE OF TAN

    two hundred and fifty yards away, a few square inches buried in the foliage ... SUDDENLY HE STOPS

    Killdeer's at his shoulder ...

    HAWKEYE'S THUMB

    cocks the lock holding the piece of flint: click.

    UNCAS

    stops dead, holding out his hand ... no sound.

    CHINGACHGOOK

    slips through young trees and stops, shouldering his smoothbore musket. Is this an

ambush?

    HAWKEYE'S POV: RACK FOCUS THROUGH THE GUN SIGHT

    Five feet and fourteen pounds of rifle is elevated a half inch and shifted left, off target. It's a precise, smooth movement. No human quiver.

    KILLDEER'S TRIGGER

    tighter ...

    THE COCK

    holding the flint hits the iron file of the frizzen, shooting sparks into the pan of priming powder which flashes and ...

    TAN

    is a huge elk that leaps at the sound.

    KILLDEER'S MUZZLE

    CRACKS like lightning.

    AN ELK

    leaps where the .59 caliber round was programmed to intercept him. On the moment of impact ...

    WIDE

    three men approach the fallen elk and each other. We realize they're hunting together. Hawkeye steps aside for Chingachgook. His massive war club is flat and angles to one side with a stabbing blade. Hawkeye is stepson and stepbrother. The two younger men treat Chingachgook with an easy deference and affection.

    Hawkeye's a dialectic of two cultures. In his coloration and worldliness he's more the Anglo-Saxon frontiersman. In his independent views and candid manner and in his combat skills and woodsmanship, he's more native American (Mohican). As Chingachgook takes out his long knife and they approach the fallen elk ...]

CHINGACHGOOK

    (low Mohican; sub-titled)

    We're sorry to kill you, Brother.

    Forgive us. I do honor to your courage and

    speed, your strength ...

    CUT TO ...

    EXTERIOR - INTERIOR CAMERON CABIN - JOHN CAMERON - NIGHT

    roasts potatoes on a stick in the stone fireplace next to CAPTAIN JACK WINTHROP, an American in very worn quasi-military gear. On a rough table in the tiny cabin ALEXANDRIA, his wife, is kneading bread. Three children climb on their father. He grabs their wild seven year old son, JAMES, who shrieks laughter and dodges away. The cabin has two primitive rooms, waxed paper windows, log walls. O.S. a dog barks. Others pick it up. Cameron & Jack are suddenly alert, reaching for weapons ... CUT TO ...

    EXTERIOR CAMERON CABIN, DOORWAY - CAMERON - NIGHT

    appears warily, musket in hand.

    FENCE: CHINGACHGOOK

    CHINGACHGOOK

Halloo! John Cameron!

    Doorway: Cameron towards the interior ...

    CAMERON

    Alexandria! Set three more places.

    (to the fence)

    How is Chingachgook, then?

    Behind him, emerging from the dark trees are Hawkeye, Uncas, cradling flint locks,

    blankets and packs over their shoulders, leading a mule laden with skins and the elk

    carcass. Crossing the splitrail fence ...

    CHINGACHGOOK

    The Master of Life is good. Another year pass ...

    How is it with you, John?

    CAMERON

    Gettin' along. Yes, it is.

    (warm)

    Nathaniel.

    HAWKEYE

    Hello John. Cleared another quarter, I see.

    CAMERON

    (shakes hands with Uncas)

    Yes, I did.

    JAMES CAMERON

    tears past his father & runs full bore. Just before he's going to collide into Uncas,

    he leaps into the air and Uncas snatches him with one hand and swings him up onto

    his shoulders. The kid screams with delight and rides back towards the cabin that

    way. Alexandria comes to the door.

    CUT TO ...

    INTERIOR CABIN - CHINGACHGOOK - EVENING (LATER)

    lights & smokes a clay pipe. The scene says: this is a rustic, frontier home and these

    people have known each other & live in dangerous circumstances. ALEXANDRIA

    If Uncas is with you, that means he has not

    found a woman and started a family yet.

    CHINGACHGOOK

    Your eyes are too sharp, Alexandria Cameron.

    They see into my heart.

    UNCAS

    Your farm good to you this year, John?

    CAMERON

    It was a good year for corn.

    UNCAS

    Mohawk field we saw was 5 mile long on the river. Chief Joseph Brandt's field.

    CAMERON

    You take much fur?

HAWKEYE

    That we did. John. But the horicane

    (sic)

    is near trapped out.

    JACK

    Tradin' your skins in Castleton?

    UNCAS

    No, Schylerville. With the Dutch for silver. French & English want to buy with wampum

    & brandy.

    Pause, then ...

    HAWKEYE

    So what is it, Jack? What brings you up here? JACK

    A French & Indian army out of Fort Carillon's heading south to war against the English.

    I'm here to raise this county's militia to aid the British defense.

    HAWKEYE

    Folks here goin' to join in that fight?

    JACK

    We'll see in the morning ...

    CHINGACHGOOK

    Fathers of England & France, both, take more land, furs, than they need. They're cold

    & full of greed ...

    JACK

    Few'd deny that? Where you headin'?

    HAWKEYE

    Trap over the fall and winter among the Delawares in Can-tuck-ee.

    UNCAS

    So I can find a woman and make Mohican

    children so our father will leave my brother & me in peace.

    Alexandria laughs. So do Hawkeye & Chingachgook. JAMES

    A son like me?

    Uncas grabs James & suspends him upside down. UNCAS

    No. You are too strong. Turn me old

    too fast!

    Hawkeye grabs the kid from Uncas. The kid's laughing & can't stay still. Chingachgook

    watches, content, smoking his clay pipe.

    ALEXANDRIA

    That's what he's doin' to his mama ...

    She ruffles his hair and lifts the heavy iron pot off the tibbet. Uncas goes to help

    her, she shrugs his hand away and carries it to the table herself. The men gather

    around. There's pan-baked bread, a dish of salt, and the pot has venison and yellow cornmeal in a kind of stew. Everyone waits.

    CAMERON

    Dear Father, thank you for rewardin' the fruits

    of our labor with plenty. Amen.

    As they start to eat ...

CUT TO ...

    CAMERON'S CABIN - (DAY)

EXTERIOR CAMERON CABIN - MOHAWK BOY & JAMES CAMERON - MORNING

    slam into other kids as they battle through a Lacrosse game. In the background are sixty men, women and children. It's a community gathering held out of doors. We've entered mid-scene. Captain Jack is standing on a box. Some women and kids mill around some tables and boards laid over barrels. Cooking fires. Smoke.

    Most but not all around Captain Jack are men, nine settlers, 3 hunter/trappers, eight Mohawk farmers in mixed European and native clothing. Off to the side are an English Lieutenant on horseback and a ten-man escort from whatever regiment's in Albany. A man named HENRI speaks in French. His son, MARTIN, translates.

    HENRI

    (O.S. in French)

    MARTIN

    (translates)

    My father says he was driven out of France by

    the black robe priests and he would fight them

    now but he lost his arm and so I will go in his

    place.

    Meanwhile ...

    ONGEWASGONE

    is an unusually large Mohawk in a blue match coat with a little girl holding his hand. He says something to Chingachgook who nods. Hawkeye and Uncas are a little apart in an outer grouping of the men. Ongewasgone is a war chief and wears a white plume and is tattooed. As Martin finishes, he steps forward.

    ONGEWASGONE

    John Cameron, thank you for your hospitality ...

    Twin River Mohawk got no quarrel with Les

    Francais. Trade furs with Les Francais. Now Les

    Francais bring Huron onto Mohawk hunting grounds ...

    These people are English, Scots-Irish and Dutch farmers; some French Huguenot "mechanics" (craftsmen). They're in shirt-sleeves and Indian moccasins & leggings. The Mohawks' vast lands and corn agriculture border the settlement. They 've been acculturated for over a hundred years. Some wear European calico hunting shirts. Their heads are shaved to scalping locks and many are tattooed. They've politically and commercially played France & England against each other very adroitly for over

    a hundred years because of their military power and geographic position. Their relations

    with working farmers and settlers and their families has been mostly one of co-existence because there's always been more than enough for all. This is a WPA mural

    of ethnic diversity and plurality of frontier America. The Europeans are former

    indentured laborers, farmers exiled by economics or religious persecution, frontier

    hunters and trappers ... working people.

     IndexNext

?Michael Mann and Christopher Crowe

This Free Ebook is Produced

    By "Eshu Space".

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PART 2

ONGEWASGONE

(continues)

    Now Mohawk will fight Huron and Les Francais. My brothers have asked me to lead them

    in this war so I speak for the Twin River Council.

    The importance of this commitment is apparent to the lieutenant. LIEUTENANT

    His Majesty King George II is very grateful for your support. IAN

    How far up the valley?

    LIEUTENANT

    To Fort William Henry.

    COLONIAL #1

    ... two days from here.

    Some don't like this.

    LIEUTENANT

    It should be enough to remind you France is the enemy. HAWKEYE

    Your enemy ...

    Heads turn to Hawkeye at the periphery of the crowd. LIEUTENANT

    What did you say?

    HAWKEYE

    (loud)

    I said ... France is your enemy. Not ours.

LIEUTENANT

    Really? Do you want them to overrun all New York colony?

    HAWKEYE

    First place, you started it with the French over fur-trapping claims to the head waters of the Ohio.

    (smiles)

    Now you're sayin' these people have a fight on their hands ...

    LIEUTENANT

    (ignoring Hawkeye)

    Will you men help us stop the French?

    HAWKEYE

    ... and while they are cooped up in your fort, what if the French send war parties to raid their homes?

    IAN

    What then, Lieutenant?

    LIEUTENANT

    For your own homes, for king, for country, that's why you men ought to join this fight! HAWKEYE

    You do what you want with your own scalp. Do not be tellin' us what to do with ours. LIEUTENANT

    (furious; to Hawkeye)

    You, sir! You call yourself a loyal subject?

    HAWKEYE

    ... No ... Do not call myself much of a subject at all.

    Light laughter.

    COLONIAL #2

    Nathaniel's right. But if I got to fight, figure I'll try and do it fifty miles north of here instead of my bean field.

    AD LIBS

    Yes. Yeah. No ...

    CAMERON

    I am stayin' on my farm. And any man who goes, his family is welcome to fort-up with us 'til he comes back.

    JACK

    Boys. My sense of it is enough of us will join-up to fill the county's levy. But only if General Webb accepts a few terms I got in mind ...

    HAWKEYE & UNCAS

    cross through the people. A few men drift off to their women at the tables. It is apparent two-thirds of the men will join. A couple of jokes, light banter, no hostility.

    AD LIBS

    (O.S.)

    Webb? what's that, Jack ...?

    As they cross through they start removing their shirts and weapons.

IAN

    You boys marchin' with us? What do you say?

    UNCAS

    We had our say, Ian.

    They approach the Lacrosse field. Chingachgook stands with Cameron in the background, watching.

    LACROSSE FIELD

    Uncas joins James. Hawkeye goes on the other side. A couple of young Mohawks and a young blonde farmer shout hallo's and as the bodies crash into each other ... CUT TO ...

    EXTERIOR BRITISH ENCAMPMENT, PARADE GROUND - SIX HUNDRED 62nd REGIMENT OF FOOT - DAY in two rows. At each command the crack troops respond en masse. Their hands slap the stocks of their brown bess muskets in unison. These men are drilling in preparation for war.

    We witness a state-of-the-art, 18th century, precision killing machine. REGIMENTAL SGT. MAJOR

    (shouts)

    Shoulder arms!

    (slam)

    Order arms! Handle cartridge!

    (men bite the paper)

    Prime!

    (powder dropped in pan)

    Load! Draw ramrods! Ram cartridge! Return ramrod!

    Make ready!

    (muskets at chest height)

    Pre-sent!

    (muskets shouldered)

    Make ready!

    (muskets returned to chests)

    Pre-sent!

    (muskets returned to shoulder)

    Fire!

    Like a single shot, two hundred fifty black powder muskets fire .65 caliber lead shot at chest height in a scythe of death.

    SERGEANT MAJOR

    Prime! Load!

    The Dutch roof lines of Albany are in the distance. Nearer, a coach races past. CUT TO ...

    EXTERIOR ROAD - HORSES GALLOP - DAY

    Six horses, wide with dumb, mute strain. Foam, manes fly, their hooves pound the yellow road into dust. Military outriders are on the three left side horses. CUT TO ...

    INTERIOR COACH - MAJOR DUNCAN HEYWARD - DAY

    sits erectly in the brilliant scarlet coat of the First Royal Regiment of Foot with gold braid, blue-black facing and blue-black breeches, cavalry boots, spurs, a tricorn, white wig (?) and a gorget (large medallion) around his neck. He's 28-30 and tough. He is self-sure, principled reactionary. He believes human society is static & layered into hierarchies of class and they are absolutely impermeable. He opens a simple gold- clasped case & contemplates its contents ... HEYWARD'S POV: CASE

    an enameled portrait of a dark-haired young woman.

    HEYWARD

    as a soldier is militarily first-rate in his milieu: the open battlefields of Europe. Right now, however, he is about to enter the forests of North America. He closes his clasp and glances out the window as we enter Albany and as a facade of buildings & people pass.

    CUT TO ...

    INTERIOR BRITISH HQ, ASSEMBLY ROOM - DOOR - DAY

    Four Grenadiers come to attention as Heyward enters mid-scene.

    JACK

    (O.S.)

    ... if they are not allowed leave to defend their

    families if the French or Hurons attack the

    settlements, no colonial militia is goin' to Fort

    William Henry.

    HEYWARD

    (low)

    You, there. Help my man outside with the baggage.

    GENERAL JEROME WEBB sees Heyward and nods. Three of Webb's Adjutants are on either side. Three remaining Grenadiers in bearskin-covered mitred caps are at the door. Facing Webb are a half dozen colonial representatives, including Captain Jack Winthrop. Heyward watches Jack ...

    LIEUTENANT

    They will report or be pressed into service!

    LARGE COLONIAL REP

    Any of the boys worth havin' can disappear into

    forest ... time it takes you to blink. Where's that

    leave ya, then?

    Heyward, preparing to hand over dispatches, is interrupted by the insubordinate tone. Equally wound tightly is the Lieutenant.

    LIEUTENANT

    They will be found! Arrested ...

    WEBB

    (cuts in)

    I cannot imagine his Majesty, in his benevolence, would ever object to his American subjects defending their hearth & home, their women & children, if threatened by the "scourge" of attack from savages,

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