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Plot: Michael, Steven and Nick are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela and their wedding-party is also the men's farewell party. After some time and many horrors the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette against each other. Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again. Runtime: 182 mins Release Date: 22 Feb 1978
A comment re the other comments: A lot of the comments criticize the first half hour as being too long. In my opinion, these comments miss the point of the movie.Of course many of the scenes in the first hour don't advance the narrative. They're not supposed to; they're for character development.The whole point of the movie is to show us how the various characters were affected by the war. It wouldn't have worked nearly as powerfully as it does had the first hour been trimmed down. We have to sense the careless and frat-boy-like immaturity of these young men. That's why <more>
the scenes all revolve around frivolity and seemingly senseless boyish behavior; it creates such a stark contrast to the devastated characters of the three who went to war and the relatively unaffected personalities of those who stayed behind, like Stanley .The strong points of the film are the outstanding performances of nearly every actor in the movie. Yes, there are technical deficiencies in the sound, but it hardly matters. This is nitpicking compared to the overall construction of the film.
It was 1978 and everyone in the audience was about to wet their pants (by yawn-2)
No, this is not the best film about the Vietnam War; it's hardly about Vietnam at all. The vets who don't like it have it wrong, as do the Vietnamese who found it racist. It could be any war, with any combatants. But because the primary victims here are recognizable American archetypes, Americans will feel this in their gut more than any other war film I know of. This is one of the very few post-war Hollywood films that shows a sincere reverence for the lives of small town Americans.After seeing it in a very high quality theater on its initial release, I walked out thinking it was <more>
easily one of the best movies I had ever seen - and that I never wanted to see it again. But I looked at it today on cable and found that not much had changed about it, or me. I don't want to see it again...but I want you to see it.Even now, the Russian Roulette scene in context, people: watch all that comes before it first is the single most intense sequence I've seen; it makes the end of "Reservoir Dogs" seem like a cartoon. Best Walken performance, period. Meryl Streep glows, DeNiro has seldom been more affecting. A unique classic...it is not surprising that Cimino didn't have another movie in him after something this wrenching.
It's been given a fairly bad reputation over the years - undeservedly so, too. One of the greatest films ever made. (by MovieAddict2016)
"One shot is what it's all about. A deer has to be taken with one shot."There's that particularly infamous scene in "The Deer Hunter" that seems to remain more disturbing each time we view it, when Michael Robert De Niro , a Vietnam veteran, tracks down a friend of his named Nicky Christopher Walken , who never arrived home after the war and is eventually found in Saigon, playing Russian Roulette for money, his mind an utter mess. He is unable to fully remember Michael, and refuses to return home, and what proceeds in the following sequence is a haunting example <more>
of gut-wrenching film-making.The Vietnam sequences take place midway through the movie, serving as a connection between the beginning and the end, both of which study the lives of the men and not the war around them. Michael, Nicky and Steven John Savage are young Pennsylvanian miners drafted into the war. Steven has just gotten married to the love of his life, but has little time to celebrate as he is shipped overseas with his friends. They eventually all find themselves taken hostage in a Vietnamese POW camp where their captors force them to play Russian Roulette. The rules of the game? Put a single bullet in a random chamber of a handgun, spin it, snap it, raise it to your head, squeeze the trigger, and repeat these steps until there's only one man left standing.After a series of fortunate events Michael, Nicky and Steven escape and make their way downriver. All three men are eventually rescued, Nicky via helicopter and Michael and Steven later on. Steven's battered, infected legs are amputated and he is left helpless in a wheelchair. Michael returns home as well only to find that Nicky is still back in Vietnam. Nicky's girlfriend back home, Linda Meryl Street , begins to fall in love with Michael, but Michael soon remembers his promise to Nicky "If I don't make it back don't leave me over there" and travels over 2,000 miles back into the middle of his own personal hell to find and rescue his best friend. It's hard for him to understand why Nicky doesn't recognize him when he finally tracks him down. "It's me, Mike." "Mike who?"Causing mass controversy upon its release because of its alleged "racist" content regarding the Vietnamese, a crowd of Vietnam veterans gathered around outside the Oscars ceremony and caused riots as well, claiming that the film was "not accurate" and somehow insulting to the veterans of the war. However as many film historians, authors and critics have already pointed out, the film is never meant to be a 100% accurate depiction of the events in Vietnam. It is not really a Vietnam War picture at all. Instead, it is a focus on the aftermath of war, and how damaging it can be, both physically and mentally, to its participants. Because of the era that "The Deer Hunter" was released in, Vietnam was a recent event, the focus of the nation, and is therefore used as a more convenient -- and relative -- backdrop much like "Apocalypse Now" . Unlike "Platoon" this is not a movie relating specifically to the Vietnam War, in fact less than a half an hour is devoted to the war scenes. It is a character study, and accusations of racism -- although perhaps justified to some extent -- are hardly convincing as the film itself is not concerned with bashing the participants of the war as it is the war itself.It is the film's necessary setup that is often called long and boring and, ironically, unnecessary, but this is essentially where the nature of each character is examined for the audience. To launch directly into the war sequences would be sloppy, and we would have a harder time caring for the characters. Instead, we are given scenes with weddings, discussions, and hunting trips -- normal events. Then, the end, a somber reflection upon the past, chronicles the aftermath of the damaging events in the lives of Michael, Steven, Nicky and their loved ones. Michael has a hard time adapting back to his normal life. It would be hard for anyone, after experiencing such damaging events and images. De Niro made a few post-Vietnam films during the '70s and '80s, the most famous being "Taxi Driver," in which Travis Bickle was totally unable to find his way in life again after the war and resorted to violence in order to justify his existence and release his anger. "The Deer Hunter" is similar in approach but reveals more background; this would be a suitable prequel of sorts if the names had been changed.Over the years "The Deer Hunter" has surprisingly gained a fairly bad reputation -- most of which stems back to the controversy surroundings its release and protested accolades. Director Michael Cimino's follow-up "Heaven's Gate" was an enormous flop, bankrupting United Artists, and he had a hard time finding work afterwards. His first feature film, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot," which starred Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges, was a buddy road movie that was also a sign of things to come in Cimino' later features, most notably the process of male bonding, which is a huge primal element in this project. Cimino was an extremely talented and visionary director, and it's a shame that the ambition of "Heaven's Gate" cost him his career.And furthermore, despite the negativity surrounding "The Deer Hunter," it is still one of the finest works of American cinema, a touching, poignant and ultimately depressing film that asks us if the effects of war extend past the physical and into the realm of human mentality. Yes, I think they do.
Cimino's film is undeniably powerful in its depiction of Pennsylvania steel worker's initiation into warfare and its after-effects (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Opening in Pennsylvania steel town that morning, Steven John Savage is going to get married Just a few days later, he and his best friends Michael Robert De Niro and Nick Christopher Walken will join the Army and go to Vietnam All three are made prisoners of war who finally escape their ordeal, although with several complications The terrible experiences that they are subjected to change their whole life Over the course of more than three-hours of screen time, "The Deer Hunter" presents outrageous and impressive scenes of sadistic Vietcong force tossing grenades into <more>
shelters filled with helpless women and children, and later forcing American captives to play Russian roulette for their amusement, while the prison guards bet on the result Whatever his intention, Cimino goes courageously forth, staging with power his big end during the fall of Saigon, depicting the trauma of war and the effort of one friend to rescue the other The extreme effects of the conflict provide indelible images, and make us feel the pain, the compulsion, the threat, and the terror of war
Touching drama about the ruin of a group of men's friendship by war (by Danherb)
"The Deer Hunter" is not a film about the Vietnam war, as it is wrongly said in many cases."The Deer Hunter" is a film tells the story of 3 friends within about 5-6 years, during which their friendship is repeatedly put to the test.It is primarily a picture of the contemporary life of a group of people around 30 living in a small American town during the Vietnam war.The first hour of the film portrays the every day life of three friends Mike De Niro , Steven Savage and Nick Walken , who look forward to Steve's wedding but at the same time have to prepare for their <more>
commitment in Vietnam. The main actors above all De Niro and Walken perfectly picture the character's inner conflict between their easygoing home town life and the forthcoming assignment in Vietnam. Despite this conflict the characters don't show their concerns to their environment.Particularly Nick is worried about him and his friends leaving his home town and perhaps never coming back, but he only tells his best friend Mike of his thoughts, who is much more resolute and sees their engagement as a strong masculine act.Cimino manages to show the simple irrationality of young men, going to a senseless war from which they might never return for the only purpose of glory and approval, and abandoning their settled and happy life for it. The spectator just can't understand why those young men voluntarily sign for the army and give up everything they have. The passage from the small-town-idyll to the war cruelty is greatly pictured. Cimino does not show the three friends' way to Vietnam or the training, he immediately switches from a happy get-together to the cruel war captivity of the Vietcong. This passage perfectly underlines the contrast and the inexplicability of the three men's actions.Although the passage that is set in Vietnam is only about one third of the whole film long, the war is omnipresent at any time, which is probably the best benefit of the whole film, Cimino does not need to bomb the spectator with pictures of crying children, mutilated soldiers or desert battlefields in order to illustrate the cruelty of war. Far from it! The changed behavior of all characters after the friends' returns tell more about wars' capability of changing someone's life, than anything else.And the fact that the many dreams that these three friends had before they went to Vietnam didn't come true, because of their longing for recognition by becoming an acclaimed veteran can even pluck your heartstrings.Cimino's great directing and the cast's awesome acting provide for a touching and honest drama about the friendship of a group of young men, that is destroyed by the Vietnam war.
1978's The Deer Hunter is one of the more polarizing movies to come out during the 1970's. It was the first movie with the deeply controversial subject of the Vietnam War to both become a critical and commercial success. However, there were several people who expressed dissent ranging from its portrayal of the Vietnam War to the controversial involvement of Russian roulette to the singing of "God Bless America." I remember not being too impressed with the film the first time I viewed it. I felt it was too long and violent. Years later, I am singing a different tune. It's <more>
a difficult film to sit through because of its violence and the effects of PTSD post-trauma syndrome . But it is a highly engaging and effective film and I regard it as one of the more influential American movies of the 1970's. Not the best, but the most influential because there will be more successful films tackling the Vietnam War on the horizon.You can call this movie a symphony of some sort. I sort this film into three major segments. The first segment is the longest because of its lengthy and effective characterization. We meet three Pennsylvania factory workers: Michael Robert De Niro , Steven John Savage , and Nick Christopher Walken . They enlisted in the army to serve in Vietnam. Steven decides to marry before going off to war and this wedding also serves as the farewell party. This section is eerily reminiscent of the opening act of The Godfather. There is lots of partying and dancing. And we essentially get to know these characters. These men are hard workers who get drunk at the party because they deserve a night for themselves. After the party, the trio of friends along with another friend Stan John Cazale go into the mountains to hunt for deer for one last trip. Hence the title of the movie. I found this section to be incredibly effective in character-building. Director Michael Cimino took his time with his part because it was important to understand these men before they go into the horrors of war.The second movement of our symphony is the actual war. Just like that with a loud noise, the film instantly changes its tone. From the foggy mountains of Pennsylvania to the tropical war zone of Vietnam we go. In one of the most terrifying sequences ever made, the three men are taken prisoner and are forced to play Russian roulette while their captors are betting who will win and who will die. Just seeing the men's faces as they are waiting their turn in the rat-infested cages are undeniably scary. One of the film's controversies is that roulette was not actually played in Vietnam. According to Cimino, he read articles saying they did play roulette although any of this has not been confirmed. But it's one hell of a way to add tension to the movie. You can also take this as a symbol for the war overall. Roger Ebert puts it perfectly in his review, "Anything you can believe about the game, about it's deliberately random violence, about how it touches the sanity of men forced to play it, will apply it to the war as a whole." Essentially, this violence stands for the war itself and what these men face. Now our final act of the symphony is what happens after the horrors of the prison camp. Michael becomes a prominent character here as he returns home and is welcomed as a hero by his townsfolk and his girlfriend Linda Meryl Streep . But Michael does not feel like a hero. Steven is in the hospital after losing his legs and Nick is somewhere in Vietnam still. Michael eventually goes back to find Nick who happened to take his roulette experiences to heart by playing this game professionally. This section is incredibly sad and moving as here we see what exactly war can do to strong-willed men. It was horrible to watch this transformation on screen. To see these characters we got to laugh with in the first part to seeing them play with death in the final act is sad to see. We also get to see an act of patriotism or is it? when the survivors join in a ragged rendition of "God Bless America" in the very end. This movie has a very strong cast, although the only star at the time was Robert De Niro. De Niro instantly became the film's leader and he played Michael very well. He became a bona fide star after his work in The Godfather: Part Two, and he put that stardom to work here. Christopher Walken had some of the strongest scenes in the movie because of his involvement with the deadly game of Russian roulette. Meryl Streep is one of the greatest actresses ever to grace our screens, and this was one of her first big roles. We end this paragraph with a sad note. This would be the last movie John Cazale would play because he was suffering from terminal cancer and he died before the film was released. He was very good as Stan, but you can tell in the movie that he was really sick.Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter is a incredible movie about the horror of wars and it effective covers themes ranging from PTSD to male bonding and friendship. It was one of the first movies to successfully cover the Vietnam War, although I'd say this film may not be the most accurate regarding the actual war. I do commend its effort on conveying the themes of general war though. This film was nominated for nine Oscars and it won five of them including Best Picture. Walken took home the statue for his amazing and tense performance as Nick. The film may be controversial and it may be hard to watch, but it's one you'll remember forever. My Grade: A-
"I feel a lot of distance... I feel far away." (by The_Movie_Cat)
I've found myself watching a lot of Vietnam films recently, many by some of the greatest directors of all time. And Oliver Stone. Yet despite it all, I still don't think I've found one that's perfect. When Marlon Brando gasped "the horror, the horror" at the end of Apocalypse Now he could easily have been talking about tedious, navel-gazing Vietnam movies.Maybe it's the subject matter that's so difficult to successfully realise. After all, the conflict is still just two generations away, a painful memory for many, making it a morally dubious venture to serve <more>
it up as entertainment. Perhaps as a result, many have tried to disguise the subject, to dress it up with a veneer of pretension. The films are often overlong and worthy, too, with the four I've seen Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter lasting over nine and a half-hours between them. It sounds ridiculous, but maybe a better way is to present the conflict not as a film, but as a movie. A 90-minute popcorn romp that finishes before it disappears up itself, yet still gets the message across. Decent Vietnam films have been made of action movies First Blood and sci-fi/horror Jacob's Ladder without the need for any great artistic merit.Probably the most disappointing of all four is Stanley Kubrick's resoundingly average Full Metal Jacket 6 , which is technically commendable but never as meaningful as it would like to think it is. Apocalypse Now 7 is a better bet, which contains more of the conflict than any of the other movies, a huge celluloid landscape of explosions and death. It lacks a certain something, though, possibly a little depth, that leaves it only on the edge of greatness. Born of the Fourth of July 6 , crammed in between Cocktail and Days of Thunder marks one of Cruise's earliest attempts to break free of the bland macho roles he'd previously attempted. Cruise is fine, though the film's lack of subtlety soon becomes tiresome. The incidental theme by John Williams sounds strikingly like his sentimental swoops for Jurassic Park, but then again he'd got away with Superman/Star Wars for years and no-one had mentioned it. Williams, surprisingly, had a guitar hand in the gentle and quite moving theme to The Deer Hunter*.The Deer Hunter, then, is the best of the bunch, the best Vietnam movie ever made... at least up until now. Certainly not a film you would watch for pleasure, it contains the most depth, the most psychologically reaching aspects. It's still not as emotionally reaching as I would like it to be, the film perhaps containing a clinical distance between the viewer and its content. Okay, I realise that alienation and the sense of inner isolation is what the film's about, but even before the characters go to war DeNiro's Mickey isn't quite all there. Some of the characters, such as Chuck Aspegren's loutish Axel with his obnoxious catchphrase "f***in' A!" offer little empathy for the audience. Yet it's really only Walken, DeNiro and Streep who get genuine characters anyway, the rest are just support.I remember being unimpressed with the film the first time round, and I admit that, in the main, I was wrong. Direction is almost flawless by Cimino, though oddly he's never had great success since, his post-Deer CV including the flop Heaven's Gate. Acting, too, is top-rate, and the realisation of Pennsylvanian village life, juxtaposed with life in the Saigon village, is exceptional. The picture scores because the nature of war as evidenced by most directors loads of helicopters, macho bluster, explosions, and graphic deaths are largely absent, the film being an intense, character-based piece. The famous highlighted section of the war is Walken, DeNiro and John Savage as POWs, forced to undertake harrowing turns in a game of Russian Roulette. 8/10.* Edited four years later to add: No, it isn't the same John Williams. There's research for you.
Not without flaws but the most real portrayal of Vietnam I've seen (by sachsad)
I had difficulty with the first hour of The Deer Hunter. My two problems concerned technicalities and length. In a three-hour movie, I feel everything should function in the narrative or inform the viewer's understanding of the narrative. That being said, I felt there was a lot of fat that could have been trimmed in the very opening of the film, and especially the wedding. Meryll Streep's first appearance seemed unnecessary, her getting a drink with Robert De Niro's character, the very opening with the truck, and various shots could have been cut down-production companies might <more>
have seen Cimino's future mistakes with Heaven's Gate coming had they paid attention to these issues. I also felt at first that the cinematography and sound quality were poor. It didn't look visually real when I felt it should have, and there seemed a lot of audio inconsistencies ie background noise that changed from shot to shot . THAT being said, these concerns were soon put to rest when I saw the reason for cinematography that wasn't aesthetically pleasing. Once Mikey, Nicky, and Steve went to war, I realized that this movie was meant to seem like a documentary in a way-no fancy cinematography so the viewer could notice a certain amount of work put into aesthetics and think more about that than context. I felt like I was there and everything was shot on location and the Russian roullette scenes were really happening. It seemed to me the most real portrait of the Vietnam War I've seen, and I now appreciate movies like Full Metal Jacket which didn't resonate prior to seeing the Deer Hunter. Christopher Walken also gave his most powerful and unforgettable performance that he has not outlasted since. I wasn't watching Christopher Walken; I was watching his character Nick. This movie is not to be missed, and you won't forget it.
****SPOILERS**** The movie "The Deer Hunter" opens in the small Russian/American Orthodox community of Clairton Penn. back in 1967 with Steven,John Savage,getting married to Angela, Rutanya Alda. The next day Steven and his two close friends Michael & Nick, Robert De Niro & Christopher Walken, spend their their last day together hunting deer in the Pennsylvania woods before being drafted into the US Army.Michael is a crack shot when it comes to bringing down a deer and proves it when he's the only one of the group that also included fellow steel workers Stanley and Axel, <more>
John Cazale & Chuck Aspegren. living by the rule "One shot is what it's all about" Michael puts that into practice in his hunting deers, he never has to shoot twice to make a kill. Later in the movie Michael sees that that motto of his can also effect him and his friends just like the deers he's been hunting all his adult life. Sent to Vietnam as a member the elite 101th Airborne we see Michael run into both Nick and Steven during a communist assault on a village that their defending. A moment later the three, together with a number of Vietnamese villages, having been captured by the Viet Cong are being used in a morbid game of Russian Roulette by their Communist Vietcong captors.Steven who refused to play the Vetcong death game is thrown into a underwater cage in the Mekong River where he's attacked by dozens of hungry and vicious water rats who almost chew his legs off. Both Michael & Nick are a bit luckier by playing Russian Roulett since Michael takes the chance by encouraging the Vietcong leader to put three bullets into the gun chamber not the usual one! Michael playing the odds that his chances, together with Nick, is 50/50 he'll have if he's lucky three slugs to put between his commie torturers eyes and be able to put them out and escape with both Nick & Steven. As dangerous as an idea was it worked with the Vietcong getting all that's coming to them, in bullets and rifle butts, from a mad as hell Michael and even madder Nick.If was later that the three friends are separated during the fighting and Michael is the only one who comes back home to Clairton Penn. in more or less one piece. Michael later finds Steven in a veterans hospital with both his legs amputated from the wounds he suffered in the Vietnam War and that Nick is categorized by he US Army as either AWOL dead or missing in South VietnamSearching for Nick, whom he promised to never leave behind, Michael finds that Steven at the Vet. hospital has been secretly getting scores of $100.00 bills over the last few months from someone in Saigon? That someone turned out to be the missing Nick! Michael travels 12,000 miles back to Vietnam to find and rescue Nick but there's just two hitches; first being able to get into South Vietnem with the country about to fall to the Communist North Vietnamese and second finding Nick and then seeing if he want's to be rescued and brought home in the first place.Gut-wrenching movie about friendship in war and in peacetime with Michael trying to put the pieces of his life back together after he was tortured and de-humanized by his war experiences. Michael became so disgusted and angry with killing that when out hunting he couldn't even lift his rifle to aim at and shoot a deer back home in Penn., a sport which he used to enjoy more then anything else.Going back to "Nam" in the spring of 1975 as the US supported South Vietnamese government was on the brink of being overthrown, with what little US personnel left at the US embassy in Saigon about to be air-lifted out of the country, Michael finds Nick playing for high stakes, his life, the brutal and inhuman game that took away his sanity while being held captive by the Vietcong years ago; Russian Roulette. Almost unwatchable final 15 minutes as Michael tries to get poor and heavily drug addicted Nick to come back home with him. Michael even goes as far as of playing a game of "Spin the Bullet" himself to get Nick out of his self-destructive state. Nick had been lucky all these months in the gambling dens of Siagon winning thousands of dollars defying the odds of getting his brains blown out. This time, like Michael always said, "One shot is what It's all about" and it was that one and last shot or bullet that eventually did Nick in.One of the best movies about war ever made that shows it for what it is "Hell on Earth" with a young, 28 year old, and at the time unknown Meryl Streep as Nick's, and and now Michael, long suffering girlfriend Linda. Linda together with Michael Steven and his wife Angela, and all of the friends that Nick left behind in Clairton, attending Nick's funeral sadly say goodbye to him. Later Nicks friends and family solemnly sitting together at the dinner table end the film singling "God Bless America" in what has to be one of the most touching and heart-rendering scenes ever put on film. P.S Michael did indeed keep his promise to Nick, he didn't leave him behind.