Friday, February 22, 2008

The Last of the Mohicans audiobook

The 1992 film, directed by Michael Mann and starring Daniel Day Lewis (and his chest) is a favourite, and brilliantly good. So I'd always meant to read the book. Started a couple of times. Gave up, in the face of a wilderness thicket of colonial prose c.1826. James Fenimore Cooper, I tried, I really did (and by the way, the Fenimore bit must have been fabbobananas for lifting your name to attention from the herd - can't imagine 'James Cooper' having nearly the same impact).

So what's not to like, an audio version - abridged - and read by the wonderful William Hope (who reads Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife, the unabridged audiobook version).

O-kay. So in go the three CDs to the car's CD stacker, ready for the daily journey to and from work, and we're off.

Sheesh. I hadn't realised Michael Mann had taken so many liberties with the original. Roger Ebert's review notes: It is also inspired, of course, by the novel by James Fenimore Cooper, whose frontier fantasies were completely demolished in an hilarious essay by Mark Twain, who noted that whenever the plot required a twig to be stepped on, a Cooper character was able to find a twig and step on it, no matter what the difficulty.Mann's film is quite an improvement on Cooper's all but unreadable book...

Quite so. Maybe I be jus' a chile of mah times, but if those girls had been kidnapped one MORE time by the Injuns, I would have had a Spasm. I think it was three times. I lost interest. Omigod, the girls are gorn and got again, so the heroic men go off to rescue them. And then (spoiler alert for the book), Cora gets stabbed by Magua (a kinda 'knife plunged into her breast to the hilt' deal). See, I much prefer plucky Cora surviving than Alice (pretty much utterly swoony and whimpering in the book, whereas she did get that Clifftop Moment in the film), and as for Magua (in the film) bumping off their pappy, well, it was fine and heroic and all. In the book, pappy survives too. And forget the swoony romantic matinee hero/heroine stuff we so enjoyed in the film - it's not in the book either.

William Hope, you did a great job. Lots of vocal variation, and assorted, credible accents. I blame James Fenimore entirely. Because I can, my favourite version of The Last of the Mohicans will ever after be the 1992 film. Thanks, Michael Mann (well, and I grudgingly guess James, for writing it in the first place...).

I shall be refreshing my happy memories of the film sooner rather than later. Always a fave.





Liz said...

For years I have felt guilty about not finishing that book! I feel better knowing I am not alone in the world... If you liked D.D.L. in Mohicans, what did you think of Liam Neeson in a kilt in Rob Roy?

rooruu said...

Ah Liz, I'm sure you're not alone. I kinda wonder how many American schoolchildren are still being tormented with this 'classic'...

Liam Neeson in a kilt - what a lovely thought for an overcast Sunday. I could put on a double feature while I'm quilting, but who to pick first? Daniel/Liam, Liam/Daniel? Tough call..!!!