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Where The Last Of The Mohicans Was Actually Filmed Might Surprise You

In 1992, acclaimed director Michael Mann pulled off an epic film adaptation of a classic James Fenimore Cooper novel. The result was "The Last of the Mohicans," which is part adventure, part romance, and part historical drama. The movie earned a respectable $75 million in ticket sales, per Box Office Mojo, and currently sits at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe ("Twelve Monkeys"), the story follows Hawkeye, one of three trappers (the other two being Native Americans) doing their best to protect the daughters of a British Colonel during the French and Indian War in 1756. After a bloody ambush, the group spends much of the film being hunted by a native war party, led by the relentless Magua (Wes Studi).

It's a tense and riveting film, which also makes America in 1756 look like a horrifying place to visit — something to consider when we eventually invent time travel. Keep in mind this was twenty years before the Declaration of Independence and the colonies were still under British rule, and there's clearly animosity building there. The French were fighting for their own interests, and the Native Americans were caught in the middle. No one in the movie really comes out a winner, although there is some semblance of a happy ending.

"The Last of the Mohicans" takes place in upstate New York, primarily in the Adirondack Mountains. The beautiful peaks, rivers, and forests of the region are captured beautifully in the film's cinematography. The only thing is, we're not actually looking at New York. 

Upstate New York was much further south

Movies often shoot in locations other than the ones they are trying to represent, there's nothing unusual about that. The interesting thing in the case of "The Last of the Mohicans" is that almost all of it takes place outside, and the sheer scope of the film calls for a lot of visual terrain. It's hard to mask even a general area with that much depth of field, so scouting for forested hills that could reasonably match those in the northeast might have been a challenge. Maybe nearby New England or Canada would work, but forget about California. How about the mid-Atlantic?

"The Last of the Mohicans" was actually filmed in North Carolina, according to the town of Asheville, where some of the Albany scenes were shot. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains substituted for New York as the backdrop for most of the action, and it's not hard to figure out why. In short, the territory is breathtaking, as is evident when watching the movie. So, in the audition for upstate New York, North Carolina beat out upstate New York. 

Don't feel too bad for upstate New York though, it still gets credit as the inspiration for the events in "The Last of the Mohicans." Just think of North Carolina as a stunt double. Not everyone gets to play themselves in the cinematic version of their story — that's why we have movie stars, right? Locations are no different. Some just aren't quite right for the part.