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The Deer Hunter [HD DVD]
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Product Description

An epic three-hour tale of lives forever changed by the Vietnam War THE DEER HUNTER follows the transformation of a tight group of friends from a working-class town taking its place alongside such classics as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in telling a story of war and disillusionment. On the eve of going to war Michael (Robert De Niro) Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage) gather for Steven s wedding. Leaving Steven to his wedding night Mike Nick and pals Axel (Chuck Aspergren) Stan (John Cazale) and John (George Dzundza) depart for the mountains and one last hunting trip. The hunting trip is a funny poignant scene that firmly establishes the characters as they set off for Vietnam immediately after the trip. The scenes in Vietnam especially the Russian roulette game are among the most brutal war scenes on film. The characters' eventual return to the States is emotional and gut-wrenching. Michael Cimino's award-winning film is a powerful look at friendship and love in the midst of war.This epic look at the Vietnam War and its effects told through the lives of a tight knit group of friends from a Pennsylvania town was Michael Cimino's second film and established him in the pantheon of American directors. Complex and emotionally raw performances from Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep earned each an Academy Award nomination and Christopher Walken's portrayal of Nick who survives capture but is unable to escape its trauma is a tour de force that earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. With a keen eye for nuance and a carefully structured script Cimino interweaves the rituals great and small that make up the lives of his characters creating a poignant sense of what remained constant and what was forever changed by their experience of the war.System Requirements:Running Time: 184 MinutesFormat: DVD HD Genre: DRAMA Rating: R UPC: 025193131027 Manufacturer No: 61031310

Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, The Deer Hunter is simultaneously an audacious directorial conceit and one of the greatest films ever made about friendship and the personal impact of war. Like Apocalypse Now, it's hardly a conventional battle film--the soldier's experience was handled with greater authenticity in Platoon--but its depiction of war on an intimate scale packs a devastatingly dramatic punch. Director Michael Cimino may be manipulating our emotions with masterful skill, but he does it in a way that stirs the soul and pinches our collective nerves with graphic, high-intensity scenes of men under life-threatening duress. Although Russian-roulette gambling games were not a common occurrence during the Vietnam war, they're used here as a metaphor for the futility of the war itself. To the viewer, they become unforgettably intense rites of passage for the best friends--Pennsylvania steelworkers played by Robert De Niro, John Savage, and Oscar winner Christopher Walken--who may survive or perish during their tour through a tropical landscape of hell. Back home, their loved ones must cope with the war's domestic impact, and in doing so they allow The Deer Hunter to achieve a rare combination of epic storytelling and intimate, heart-rending drama. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • quick shipping, great service
    dvd in great shape, exactly what i ordered and arrived very quickly. very pleased with the service and would do business with them again....more info
  • Well-filmed but Slow
    Nice cinematography and scenery, there is some gorgeous, haunting natural scenery during the deer hunting sequences. The portrayal of a group of rowdy raucous steel-workers in a Russian part of town does seem to go on and on (and on) though I wasn't sure I completely bought their friendship. It seemed somewhat forced at times, although perhaps some friendships do, I don't know. One could argue about how well the Viet Nam scenes were portrayed, the country's seeming fascination with roulette in particular. Whether or not that bore any historical accuracy, it gets it point across (regarding the utter lack of value human life was given during the war). Comparable to reading the classics, it's not always riveting stuff; but it's required viewing almost for anyone wanting to be 'film literate' - or for those with an interest in Cimino's work or the work of Deniro and company. You can decide for yourself what exactly this movie was trying to say, and if it truly desverved all the awards it was given. If nothing else it pays tribute or memorial to an era which should not be forgotten....more info
  • Clear your mind and just immerse yourself.
    The characters in this movie are so rich that we can all identify with at least one of them. Steel mill guys and convenience store girls, this makes life so simple. We work, we drink and we have fun. The story is beautiful. It's not anti-war, it's not pro-war it's just life in the late 60's at the height of the Vietnam war. A group of 5 close knit buddies who work, drink and hunt together. After a rip roaring wedding shin dig 3 of them head off to recruit training and ultimately Vietnam. This is where the movie takes a turn.
    You may view the Vietnam experience as symbolic of war or you may choose to accept it happened. Either way, the 3 guy's lives are changed forever. Coming home and trying to disappear back into his old life proves almost impossible for one of the guys. Another one is hiding in the VA hospital as, in his words, he doesn't fit anymore. The third is left behind in Vietnam engulfed in a seedy underground world.
    The stronger of the three takes it upon himself to get the other two back home where they belong.
    The beauty and sadness of the story is felt right here.
    For me this is a story that transcends time and can be related to any war. I can watch this movie and go through all the emotions. I can see the light and dark side of humanity. I hold this movie as one of the classics that I can watch over and over.
    Don't expect flashy of any sort, just expect good solid story telling and fantastic acting by a stellar cast. ...more info
  • Very Powerful, Emotionally Gripping But Too Bad About the DVD!
    What introduced me to this film was actually John Williams' performance and arrangement of Stanley Myers' "Cavatina" a tune which I really like and had wanted to learn how to play for years. I first got the soundtrack to the film which was pretty good albeit short at barely over half an hour in length. After I had learned and committed "Cavatina" to memory, I decided to give the film a chance too.

    Typical of 70s movies of the time, directors were given a lot more leeway to execute their art which is why many of the best films come from the late 60s up to the late 70s. I think it's safe to say that "Deer Hunter" would never have been made today. By today's standards the film moves along at a glacial pace and the 3 hour run time would probably be too much to ask today's audience to endure. For the patient however, this movie does reward repeated viewing and is powerful in its anti-war theme and how the innocents are the soldiers fighting in wars not of their creation. Although the russian roulette scenes are central to the story, they are probably not historically correct and yet they are a metaphor for the innocent soldier who is asked to commit suicide to fight somebody else's war. The first hour drags along and takes its time to show the innocence of life in a steel town in Philadelphia and how a group of workers who are fairly religious and patriotic handle the transition of their former lives to their Vietnam experiences and how their harrowing experiences have changed them relative to their friends that stayed behind. The acting is first class and Walken thoroughly deserved his Oscar and De Niro should have gotten one himself.

    The problem lies with this version of the dvd which is very poor. The picture quality hasn't been restored and so imperfections such as white and other spots abound in practically every frame and the overall quality barely matches that of VHS. The widescreen format is not anamorphic and so actually only about half of your plasma tv screen is utilised. The sound comes in Dolby 2.0 stereo but if you have a Pro Logic setup, you can similate a 5.1 surround sound effect. There are no special features worth mentioning either.

    If you are a patient movie-lover who views film as an artform you will enjoy this film that rewards repeated viewing like most classics do however you should get a better dvd version which has a much better restored and remastered picture and sound quality with at least 5.1 surround sound options. You should wait for this in either a standard version or preferably in Blu-ray to do any justice to this classic and to give this particular dvd version a miss....more info
  • Rare Laserdiscs - dvds Movies Collector.
    The Deer Hunter is One OF My Favorite Movies,I bought this 2 Disc Set Special Edition,I love MR Deniro Much,I've his Collection,this's one of his greatest Movies that you Should add to your Collection :P ...more info
  • Good But Too Long!
    I just couldn't get into this because of the length. As noted dozens of times, the wedding scene was just ridiculously long. My other problem was that the movie didn't flow... it just jumped from scene to scene leaving the viewer wondering what just happened. I'm glad I finally saw this, but what a waste of time....more info
  • Life after war
    Watch this movie if only to get to the dramatic ending which is simple yet emotionally draining. Small town boys with smaller futures go into war and the response of their families and friends to how it affected them is compelling. The film proves that you can never go home. The devastating affect of combat on these soldiers changes them and the people around them forever. Quite graphic but not unnecessarily so. ...more info
  • One shot is what it's all about
    This is a stirring film. Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken are both outstanding - this movie would not have been half as entertaining without them.

    From the beginning, you get a sense of the lives of these young men. They are free and fun-loving - and yet everything is about to change for them. They are proud to serve their country, but they are about to be exposed to a side of life that no one should ever have to see.

    The scenes set in Vietnam during the war are truly intense and shocking. After the horrors these men witness, you are not surprised to see them become disenchanted and distant. How do you return to a functioning society after being immersed in war and death of the most horrific kind? It seems, tragically, that most simpy can't readjust... and who the hell can blame them?

    This movie doesn't tackle the war as a whole. Instead, it shows you a very concentrated story involving only a few men. You see their experiences in Vietnam and the eventual playing out of their individual fates. It's very disturbing to see Nick (Walken) alive after all that time when Michael (De Niro) returns to Saigon and finally finds him. He's a shell of his former self, with lifeless eyes and an empty soul - thanks solely to the war.

    Again, without Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro, this movie wouldn't be half as good. Their performances are excellent....more info
  • Too drawn out..
    I'm a big Robert De Niro fan, as well as of Christopher Walken and John Cazale, but how this movie won 5 academy awards is amazing to me. This film is way too drawn out. The wedding scenes in the beginning seem to be endless. I kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing. Not even any interesting dialogue occured. To me, the main characters didn't seem to mesh very well. They didn't convince me that they were all best friends. Now I must admit, the Russian roulette scenes, both in the POW camp and at the end of the movie, were good. Probably the best scenes in the movie. But a lot of the movie was just boring, pointless filler that served no purpose, no plot or character development. Nothing. It's movies like these that surprise me that so many people like them and they are considered "classics". I didn't seen anything that special in this film to cause it to win 5 Academy Awards. Maybe it's just me. Maybe there's some bigger picture that I'm just not getting when I watch this film. but in any case, I just don't see what all the fuss is all about....more info
  • Pure human emotion on display
    Human emotion is brought to the fore in this intelligent drama involving three best friends and the women in their lives. Michael (De Niro), Nick (Walken) & Steven (Savage) are three hunting buddies living in Clairton, Penn. When the three of them get enlisted in the air-force and ushered off to Vietnam their lives are changed forever. After they are captured and tortured at the hands of the enemy they are forced to reevaluate their lives, look at who they are and what they've become.

    After escaping all three make different decisions, Nick staying in Vietnam, Steven being sent home injured and Michael returning home to comfort Nick's girlfriend Linda (Streep) who begins to take a liking to Michael. The real heart or soul of this film is the effect each action has on the one's involved, watching the war and their capture rip each of these men, and Linda as well, apart at the seems. The brilliance is in the acting, each emotion captured perfectly never once appearing as forced or faux, every feeling melting off of these men and women without any effort...especially in regards to De Niro and Streep who, in my opinion, should have walked away with Oscars.

    As we watch relationships build and break between friends and lovers we are drawn into these people's lives and giving a reason to watch, a reason to listen and a reason to care. Brilliantly crafted and wonderfully executed, `The Deer Hunter' is worth every bit of the praise and acclaim it has received and is yet to receive....more info
  • Good Movie but not for me
    I bought this movie because I needed to watch it for an american history course I took. I can see why it is so highly rated but it is not exactly the movie I would consider watching numerous times. I would try and catch it on tv or rent it if possible rather than buy it and only watch it once....more info
  • HD-DVD review only
    Speaking strictly on the HD-DVD version of the film: The quality of the picture is outstanding! If ever a movie deserves the benefits of ever-advancing technology, this is the one. The improvement over the SD (standard def) DVD is remarkable, esp. in scenes with extreme colors (i.e. early shots in the steel mill, and even the curtains at Linda's house...never noticed the pattern on them before!). Also, the HD-DVD disc includes scenes deleted from the original print, which is a good lesson to any budding film-makers out there: less is indeed more....more info
  • The Deer Hunter
    This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The tension and acting and message are terrific...more info
  • A SENSITIVE AND DISTRESSING PIECE ABOUT VIETNAM
    The Deer Hunter
    A close-knit group of American mill - workers are suddenly thrust into war, a war about which none of them knew much about till they arrived. Their awakening is a rude one. The best of director Michael Cimino's much varied out-put was clearly a hard act to follow for all - concerned. At the time, the players, were relatively unknown - Rober de Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken ( as Nick, who's subjected to Russian roulette). The yearning theme music is brilliant. ...more info
  • Warts and all, a movie of poetry, pain and, yes, patriotism
    I have never forgotten the opening image of "The Deer Hunter" - that of a massive dump truck barreling through the haze of steel plant emissions at dawn. That image is the beast roaring into a thousand small, blue-collar Pennsylvania towns to rip away their innocence, and send it, along with their best boys, to the Vietnam War. Director Michael Cimino's film is lurid and, in a number of spots, heavy-handed and overwrought. And yet it is shattering and important art: on its grand scale, it knows the shock of Vietnam and the emotional rubble it produced. It's one of the few Vietnam movies, too, that allowed itself the freedom to explore the innocence intact during those three boys' last days before Basic.

    All of them are steel workers. Steven (John Savage) is the one getting married to a knocked-up girl he doesn't love, while friends Michael (Robert DeNiro) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are the rough buddies who don tuxes to stand at Steven's wedding but generally love drinking, hunting and the same girl, Linda (Meryl Streep), who goes with Nick but spends a lot of time returning Michael's looks. There are other friends - an insecure, dangerous creep (John Cazale), a bearded hulk (Chuck Aspegren) and the bartender (George Dzundza) - girlfriends, mothers, kids, and a pretty girl who, for a moment, thinks Michael has noticed her and not Linda, who dances behind her. It's a giant canvas of faces and voices rising and falling to the time of a hired band in the American Legion hall. There is a poetry to Cimino's document of the wedding; many shots don't feature any of the principals, but hordes of extras dancing, drinking, smoking, eating, decorating. It's so absorbing that Nick echoes the audience in an unguarded moment: "I love this place."

    Deric Washburn's screenplay eventually presents the first of two deer hunts - one is before Vietnam, one after - and develops Michael's dogmatic belief that if you can't kill the deer in one shot, you don't deserve a second shell. That logic gets turned on its head once the Vietnam sequence unfurls in a riverhut where VietCong commanders force Michael, Stanley and Nick to duel each other in Russian roulette. You're not going to find an American POW who survived such torture; Cimino and Washburn admitted the scene is fictional. But just as Kurtz's camp in "Apocalypse Now" stood for the tribal, fantastic insanity of the war, and the sniper stood for the swiftness and precision of death in "Full Metal Jacket," the roulette sequence presents the crucible of Vietnam in an extended symbol: It was pointless, sadistic, survival of the luckiest and forever life-altering. The movie returns back to that Pennsylvania town within 45 minutes, and of course it's all different. Stanley is crippled, Nick is lost somewhere in the streets of Saigon and Michael, while home, is reluctant with Linda, and everyone else; he is more at home in Vietnam, searching back alleys for Nick, than his own trailer.

    "The Deer Hunter," with its pitch-perfect first hour and white-knuckle center, zooms right off the rails when Michael returns to Saigon for Nick, only to find him doped up by handlers to play Russian roulette for money. A credit to their narrative skills, Washburn and Cimino pull off these scenes as serious drama. DeNiro and Walken share one of those titanic scenes at the roulette table as Michael pleads with Nick, who can barely remember him, to come home. "Is this what you want? Is this what you want? I love you, Nick.
    I love you. You know that?"

    Diminished, vulnerable - this is Walken before the persona he's carried through the last 20 years of his career. And this is soulful DeNiro before he disappeared behind his immense talent to play Jake LaMotta. Other performances build around the two leads. Streep is lovely, tender and devastated as Linda. Savage inhabits Steven as the kind of guy who would have been a sucker anyway, but has absolutely no ambition for living now. Cazale, in his final performance plays Sonny Corleone as if he wasn't afraid of his own shadow, but should be.

    Most of the cast gathers for a singing of "God Bless America" at movie's end. Cimino aims for ambivalence and irony, and he may have achieved it upon's film release, but the scene now seems too much like a Coors commercial. The hour when Americans held their feelings deep and revealed them in moments when pain or joy moved them is gone. In 2006, three of them would have belted out the song, two others would have rolled their eyes, and the rest wouldn't know the words.


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  • Some part of the film might seem like fillers but it gives great intensity.
    A good number of viewers believe that "The Deer Hunter" is overlong and a bit overrated, probably due to a handful of scenes, but beside that its an important film that was the first commentary on the topic of Vietnam. It wouldn't have worked nearly as powerfully if the first hour been trimmed down a bit. It wasn't the director's attention because he meant to focus on "character development," base on the lives of three all-American friends, Niko (Christopher Walken), Michael (Robert DeNiro) and Steven (John Savage) through the affects of the war.

    We have to sense the careless and frat-boy-like immaturity of these young men. That's why 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). Although both De Niro and Walken have made a lot of great films after this movie, I have to say that this is one of their best movies in their career. They both give powerful performances and are the ones who were the best things about this movie. Both actors are at the top of their careers and were wonderful together.

    Director-write Michael Cimino doesn't try to turn this into one of the goriest movies ever made. It's quite the opposite. Although there were a few bloody scenes throughout the movie (which I didn't mind), all of those scenes were done in a realistic portrayal of the war (or any of the other bloody scenes, such as the Russian Roulette scene at the end of the movie). Because of this, the movie doesn't become a disturbing war film, yet respectable.

    "The Deer Hunter" is important film that wasn't done for nothing because it carries a strong message about life, death and love. It is a movie that should be experienced by everyone at least once, and if you like movies dealing with the Vietnam war several of them, like "Full Metal Jacket", "Platoon", and "Apocalypse Now," should also interest you.
    ...more info
  • One shot
    1978's " The Deer Hunter " is pure character driven drama fueld by explosive and unforgettable scenes of turmoil , isolation , destruction , and hope. Michael Cimino's formula of providing the characters room for development ( or lack thereof ) ensures that each person in this unforgettable story comes full circle. Whereas , the film has tendancies to drag out scenes , the attention to detail actually makes the film's story stronger. The acting is superb. Played out by a steller cast featuring knockout performances by John Savage , Meryl Streep , Robert DeNiro , John Cazale , George Dezunda , and an electrifying personofied tour de force performance by Christopher Walken. The latter ( Walken )winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Too many detailed scenes to nail just one , although the film's most controversial and famous scene involved a violent/unpredictable game of russian roulette. * Whereas , a game of russian roulette might not have ever happened in a Vietnam prison camp , this scene totally nails the isolation , fears and savagery inflicted upon US p.o.w.'s.
    Micheal Cimino's direction is superb as he unflinchingly captures lightening in a bottle through realization by shooting small stolen moments ( that any other director would've edited out , during post production ) and leads us to a significant and powerful clixax. If every director has his masterpiece , this was certainly his. And it is still a film that no other film has come close to comparing to except for Oliver Stone's Vietnam portrait Platoon. But even that film can't compare fully. " The Deer Hunter " is on a level of it's own for it's concentration on the characters. It's unlikely that another film will ever be shot like this again. It's simply not Hollywood formula. And it has a feel like it was produced and written by people who were passionate enough to focus on the story and let it unweave into a series of mezmerizing images and goes to never ending depths of character development.
    The cinematography is excellent and captures the resolute beauty of the character's steel mill town , to the rustic mountains , to the contrasting brutality and harsh climates of Vietnam. The score is composed brillantly and will be forever connected to the film.
    In an era far gone but not forgotten , " The Deer Hunter " sets it's story in a sleepy Pennsylvania steel town and focuses on a core group of friends that have made their lives around this dreary yet true american blue collar existance. However , with three friends soon leaving for enlistment into the military to do their part in the Vietnam campaign , things gradually and drastically change. A true American tale and a truly amazing production.

    One shot stats :

    Winner of 5 Academy Awards in 1979.
    Best Picture
    Best Directer
    Best Supporting Actor
    Best Sound

    Nominated Oscars ( but no win )
    Best Lead Actor
    Best Supporting Actress
    Best Cinematography
    Best Screenplay

    *There are many more accolades , nominations , and various awards for this production. Too many to name here. Needless to say , " The Deer Hunter " isn't a film to be taken lightly or missed. I highly recommend the film , as it is in my personal top 3 films of all time.
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  • Realism at it's absolute best
    Although realism was a popular form of literature a hundred years before this film, movies (with some exceptions of course)never really conveyed life as it really is until more recent times, and realism is now starting to flourish with films like Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale and the slightly overrated Keane. The Deer Hunter is a picture of life, and it does not take a liberal, or a conservative, stance on war; it simply depicts it. It isn't anti-American, it merely shows the horrors of war. The film follows essentially four characters, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (the great Christopher Walken, who garnered his first Oscar for this film), Steve (John Savage), and on a lesser level, Linda (Meryl Streep, who got her first of thirteen Oscar nominations for her portrayal). The first half hour to forty five minutes is basically just before and during Steve's wedding. The wedding sort of puts the viewer in a happy mood. The friends who are about to go to war are drinking, laughing, dancing, singing, and having a great time. The mood is very positive, and all of the wedding guests praise the three friends for willingly defending their country. The three friends (while extremely inebriated) encounter a Green Beret and try to get some patriotism out of him. He sits silent, drinking the drinks that Michael has ordered for him. They try once again to get him to tell them about Vietnam, and he responds simply: "F*** it." This line is a very strong line in the beginning, and it kind of drags the mood down a bit, making the extremely sharp transition to Vietnam a little easier. The transition is sharp, and it goes from a hunting trip where Mike shoots a deer directly to the horrors of Vietnam. Flames rage, and Mike, Steve, and Nick soon find themselves prisoners of a small groop of Vietnamese soldiers, who make their prisoners, two by two, play each other in a game of Russian Roulette, a game that has a significant impact on many of the later scenes in the film. Steve refuses to play, and he is thrown in the pit, a bamboo cage filled with water and rats. Mike devises a plan to get them out, but first they need to play each other at Russian Roulette. They survive the first round, with Nick having extreme difficulties with it, and Mike being the strong one. Mike asks that three bullets be put in the gun, and the Vietnamese soldiers gladly accept his wager. Mike soon puts his plan into action, shooting the soldiers and escaping the camp with Nick and Steve. During a failed rescue, Nick is lifted to a hospital in Saigon, while Steve and Mike fall off of the helicopter back into the waters below. The film takes another sharp transition, as it tells the story of Mike's arrival back home. He comes alone, and hope seems lost for Nick and Steve. The rest of the film centers around Mike's ability to cope with the war, and trying to save his friends from the same fate.

    The film is long, at about three hours, but the emotion conveyed in the film is so strong, that it draws the viewer in. We constantly wonder where Nick and Steve have gone to, and the final scene is extremely powerful. The cast is extremely superb, especially Walken in one of the final scenes, once again facing Mike at the Roulette table. It is brilliantly written and wonderfully directed by Michael Cimino, and definitely deserved the Best Picture win....more info
  • Cimino makes us feel the pain, the duress and the terror of war...
    The story opens in Clairton, a steel town on the morning that 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...

    Nick is dating Linda (Meryl Streep), though they are not too serious, and she and Michael are also attracted to each other... The terrible experiences, that the guys are subjected to in Vietnam, change everything...

    In the first hour and in a long scene in a bar, Cimino shows us how close the three male characters and their other friends are... Then it's on to the combination wedding-farewell party, with more singing and dancing and drinking... Finally, the ritual deer hunt in the mountains is conducted, and that involves still an escape to nature, with the threatening task of shooting a noble-looking creature...

    Only then, more than an hour after the opening credits, does the scene shift to Vietnam... From that moment on, war is hell as Cimino, obviously, shows us...

    Michael Cimino takes his hints from Ray Kellogg and John Wayne's "The Green Berets." His North Vietnamese are sadistic beasts who toss grenades into shelters filled with helpless women and children, and force American captives to play Russian roulette for their amusement, while the prison guards bet on the outcome...

    Obviously, those outrageous and impressive scenes are staged with power, but later the appearance of Julien (Pierre Segui), a decadent cosmopolitan Frenchman, at a Russian roulette gambling den, implies that the suicidal game is meant to be a metaphor for America's seduction into Euro-Asian corruption... Whatever his intention, Cimino goes courageously forth, staging his big end during the fall of Saigon, depicting the trauma of war and the effort of one friend to rescue the other...

    The high-intensity scenes of Cimino's motion picture stir our emotions, and make us feel the pain, the duress and the terror of war...

    ...more info
  • How Cleveland survived the War
    The Deerhunter opens in a dreary mill town (It was shot in Cleveland). According to the production notes, Robert de Niro spent some time hanging in bars, family dining rooms and places to catch the atmosphere of the place. Producer Michael Cimmino allegedly pitched the film without a script and purportedly wrote it as it was shot. The project was a success as its numerous awards testify. While the film makes a powerful statement about the power of friendship and the warmth of close knit societies, it also says some haunting mysterious truth about war. This isn't the easiest thing to pin down. The society of the Deerhunter, like societies immemorial, sent their warriors into battle to defend turf, protect the homeland, promote democracy.
    For many, when it comes to the American War in Vietnam, grasping any of these reasons can be very elusive. Be that as it may, something important happens in this film.
    In a critical scene in the movie, De Niro, Walken and Savage, taken prisoner, are forced into a game of Russian roulette. Incredibly, with machine guns pointed at them point blank, they escape. Freed, during the fall of Saigon, Walken opts to stay behind to, of all things, play Russian roulette in a gambling den. Has his brush with death and miraculous escape made the ordinary life appear too pedestrian? I can only wonder. He doesn't play for money, as he sends his winnings back home to Savage. De Niro returns to rescue Walken, and even engage in the deadly game himself in an effort to reach Walken. Power of friendship indeed. The closing scene shows the community gathered together, singing "God Bless America. It recalled to me another occasion when a man in dire straits called on the Creator. He said 'Forgive them, God, for they know not what they do.' When it comes to international relations and nation-building, governments don't always get it right, but somehow, in the society of The Deerhunter, there is hope that if people stick together, somehow everyone will muddle through. Maybe friendship is more crucial in such times than wisdom. Is there any room for both?
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  • Intensity at its most intense
    When those commie loving bastards force the kids into a "game" of Russian Roulett you knew 2 things.
    1) We should have dropped a nuclear bomb on NVietam around 1965 so our men and women wouldnt have to face such atrocities
    2)I forget the other one since this part of the movie pisses me off to no known ends
    great movie
    WATCH IT OR DENY YOURSELF REALISM PACKED INTO A SCREEN
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  • A defining film in the long history of war movies
    Deer Hunter is the story of a group of young American men prior to, during and after their service as GI's in Vietnam. It is a powerful, intimate and realistic movie that touches the very soul of the American Dream. The young men are innocent, a bit lost in their world, naive, full of life and expecting a lot from their future prior to fighting in Vietnam. Then they get there, in the midst of war, in that place where they lose all of their illusions, their mind or their body for some. Save for friendship, they come back from Vietnam as haunted shells.

    The movie is a beautiful, almost documentary-like story. It tackles the questioning and naivety of the youth, the atrocity of war, the appalling handling of war casualties -be they physical or mental- as well as the power of true feelings in times of troubles and, most importantly, the need for finding something worth living for. Some of the characters will find it in friendship, or in respecting life, all of them will call it America.

    The story line is extremely well supported by a plethora of top notch actors (de Niro, Savage, Walken, Strip...) that further add to the overall quality of the movie.

    After watching Deer Hunter, the concept of war and freedom will never be the same again....more info
  • The Deer Hunter: A Review. 4-1/2 Stars.
    THE FILM

    War has been a favorite topic of film practically since the medium was invented. It's a fact that makes perfect sense, film being as eminently suited to drama as it is to spectacle, two traits that will likely always be appreciated by human beings, especially when mixed together and when one begets the other. Such is the nature of people.

    These types of movies, of course, comprise one of the largest genres in motion pictures. The list of notable titles that could be considered, in some way or another, "war films" is indeed a long one. The main focus of the vast majority of these pictures tends to be on the drama of the actual combat experience, understandable not only because of the sheer action, but because most casual audiences will never set foot in a warzone at anytime in their lives, which helps to render such scenarios in film oddly exotic and intriguing despite the battles shown on-screen. The war film, perhaps more than virtually any other genre, clearly establishes the heroes we should cheer for in their quest to defeat their enemies. One may have thought that most of those heroes were realistic enough. But, great as those films will always be, after watching "The Deer Hunter," most of the soldiers and generals of war films both before and since seem a bit shallow, if not downright unreal.

    Quite a feat was successfully pulled off by this film, directed and co-produced by Michael Cimino, who also co-wrote the story off which it is based. It is, ultimately, less about a war than about people, the bonds of relationships between people, and how traumatic circumstances like those of war strain both people and relationships, often to the breaking point. It's less about stylized wartime action--though that is there--than about a more realistic human drama.

    Not even half of the movie is actually set in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam and, later, Saigon and the first shots of the war aren't seen until well over an hour after the film starts. First-time viewers trained from other war films to expect combat and blood, or at least significant arguing among soldiers, may grow weary during the first third of the film. It is unusual that a so-called war film takes as much time to reach the actual war. But it is important, not simply here, but generally, to experience a film on its own terms. This is often a difficult (and perhaps even unfair) task when the film is labeled as part of a given genre, which by nature is composed of prescribed rules all movies in a given category are expected to follow as a rule of thumb. The story begins in a place that feels far away indeed from the horrors of `nam--a small, working-class town in Pennsylvania--and, similar to any genuine relationship in real life, takes its time so it goes beyond merely introducing us to its characters, but develops them in such substantive ways that we almost feel we know them personally.

    The main characters are steelworkers who could be well-known neighbors living right around the corner from many of us, and who are presented as such. Just average men. No pretense or overtures to any kind of heroics to come. The story's perspective belongs chiefly to one of them, Michael, who we first meet socializing with some of his coworkers at the end of a long workday before joining his group of pals in the parking lot outside, goofing-off like the big boys they are. Racing their cars carelessly. Drinking free-spiritedly. It is, overall, a relatively simple, modest, carefree, life. The biggest concern Michael has about any of his friends--in fact, the biggest issue any of them have about each other--is that one of his closest friends, Steven, is engaged to Angela and the preparations for the wedding are nearly as big as the event itself will be. Another of Michael's close friends, Nick, is in love with Linda and it's easy to imagine they will be the next to tie the knot.

    The lives of the people that form the bond at the core of the story are so intimately intertwined and mutually involved that it is difficult to imagine them apart, hard to think of them as anything other than a single unit. They become as involved in one another's problems--as when Linda's drunken father mistreats her, and Michael, then Nick, lend a helping hand--as they are in each other's celebrations--a lovely wedding ceremony followed by a reception filled with dancing revelers. Later, in the picturesque mountains, the men embark on a deer-hunting trip less memorable for the successful capture of the main prize than for the reflection of the deepening bonds among those men.

    Although it is clear early on that Michael, Steven, and Nick, will soon ship off to Vietnam, the only hint of the hell they are to encounter there--and an inkling of the the fact they themselves will be irrevocably changed within that hell--is glimpsed, ironically, at the joyous wedding reception, in the form of a soldier, recently-returned and brooding alone in a dark corner of the bar. This quiet soldier is less reflective than he is lost, and is almost a mirror into the future for the trio of friends.

    When we finally arrive in Vietnam, the scenes are as tragic as in any good war film. The scenes of American soldiers held captive in cages submerged up to their very heads in muddy water is remarkable; I can't recall seeing any other war film with a scenario quite like it. Most memorable, and in some ways the centerpiece of the war sequences, are the scenes of Russian roulette the prisoners are forced to play while their Vietnamese captors, by turns cold and cruel, observe as if watching a sports tournament. Later, the same game becomes a regular attraction, played for cash, just like horse racing, with crowds of spectators in hazy rooms betting on their players, who together form a portrait of fear, defiance, and more than one kind of loss.

    Many have argued the depiction of Russian roulette detracts from the realism of the war scenes in the film. True, the deadly game may not have been a part of the usual Vietnam experience in real life but here it effectively symbolizes part of the very nature of war. It proclaims that participaing in war is rather like gambling on whether its players will emerge from their gory game or not.

    But it is through later scenes in the second half of the movie, set both in Asia and back home in America, that the film asserts its larger message, which is that, even for those who survive, they can't truly survive intact. There is no way to do so without some important piece of their lives, their very selves, being forever transformed, if not lost entirely. Body parts. Minds. Souls. Friends. Family. Anything and anyone who is cherished. Despite the fact that, upon his return, his hometown remains essentially the same, Michael has undergone such changes; in some ways he is almost a stranger. The allure of war long vanished, he also witnesses, in the movie's more pogniant scenes, clear changes in Steven and Nick, his old pals and comrades, both drastic and heartbreaking. Some are so profound as to render friends unrecognizable and years of friendship nonexistent. The others who remained in town become, in some ways, injured themselves as their hometown heroes, their loved ones, go missing, if not in body, then in character.

    The movie showcases a number of fine actors at various points in their careers. Michael is played by Robert De Niro, who was already a major celebrity (due largely to his work in "The Godfather," "Mean Streets," and "Taxi Driver"), but here, to the movie's credit, is basically rendered as just one of the guys and, by playing the most persuasive role in the movie, gives one of the most personable performances of his career, a relief from the criminal minds and unhinged personalities he is best-known for portraying. Stan is a close friend of Michael's who stays behind, at home, and is spared first-hand knowledge of the ravages of Vietnam--the suffering of his friends and their family is enough of a clue. This supporting character is portrayed by John Cazale, a respected actor on screen and stage ("The Godfather," "Dog Day Afternoon"), for whom "The Deer Hunter" turned out to be the last film in a life cut short.

    Linda is played by Meryl Streep, and, even in this fairly small supporting role, one can see the talent that would help her rise to become one of the most respected performers in the movie industry. This was a year before "Kramer vs Kramer" and early in a long and distinguished career ("Sophie's Choice," "Out of Africa," "The Hours"). George Dzundza and Chuck Aspegren play two more buddies that, despite staying home, are changed, as are the rest. Steven's new wife, Angela, is portrayed by Rutanya Alda; while Shirley Stoler plays his mother with credible concern. How they react to events concerning their men, their family, is one of the film's more affecting traits.

    The story is focused on Steven and Nick almost as much as it is on Michael as the three are an integral part of the core of the story. A memorable John Savage is Steven, one of Michael's closest partners in both life and war. But, finally, it's the incomparable Christopher Walken, as Nick, who turns in an early-career performance that is the most haunting, easily the most unforgettable in the entire picture. He deservedly won an Academy Award for this performance.

    As for the filmmakers, Cimino was joined by Derec Washburn, Louis Garfinkle, and Quinn K. Redeker to write the story Washburn's screenplay is based on. The director of photography, Vilmos Zsigmond, captures, in an unpretentious style, the visuals that help give the film both its beauty and its horror. Stanley Myers provides a sparse and understated musical score that is rousing at just the right moments; the quiet, almost contemplative main title theme is by John Williams. Peter Zinner does a fine editing job, which especially shows during the sequences set in Vietnam, with some quick cutting at its most intense moments.

    In retrospect, the only oddity about the experience is, given the painstaking naturalism of the overall movie, the Vietnam sequences in general are, stylistically, its most unreal scenes. For instance, despite the validity of the other characters throughout the picture, the Vietnamese are, by and large, as two-dimensional as cardboard cutouts. There seems to be a school of thought that a more developed antagonist may skew viewers' support toward the enemy, away from the heroes. But this is a faulty philosophy, as there have been many well-structured, even charismatic, bad guys whose ultimate goals audiences would, in the end, not support. Had the Vietnamese here been portrayed with a depth approaching that of the main protagonists, it would have made for a more interesting dynamic during those sequences--and a more interesting enemy. But this is a single criticism in an otherwise powerful film.

    Restlessness, even impatience, may tempt viewers early in a film which seems, at the time, quite ordinary. But viewers should not be quick to dismiss the film for what may be perceived as routine; this is not a fault of the picture or its filmmakers. In fact, the filmmakers are to be commended, for it is due to their craftsmanship and attention to detail, and fine performances by their actors that allow the movie to feel so ordinary, so authentic, like slices from real life. And, it is this palpable feeling of reality that ultimately allows the final few scenes to be not merely touching but devastating.


    ON THE DISCS
    This review refers to the Universal Legacy Series two-disc special edition. The features of other available editions may differ.

    The feature presentation on this pair of discs is first-rate, as its images were digitally remastered and its sound was totally restored. Obvious care was put into the simple, but well-crafted packaging, which opens opens like a little hardcover textbook to reveal the two discs within. The movie should have a few more chapters for easier navigation to some scenes (some chapters contain more than one distinct sequence). Also, I do wish there were far more special features. Those that do exist follow.

    Audio Commentary with the director of phogography Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher is quite informative, but limited chiefly to cinematography. In fact, it plays somewhat like an interview of Zsigmond more than a commentary of equals between the two. What's sorely missing is the input of director, co-writer, and co-producer Michael Cimino. The fact that he is not included, for whatever reason, is a huge question and leaves one feeling that they could have learned far more about the film than is presently heard, especially considering that the film was inspired by his own personal experiences in the U.S. Army. It is rather like having a gap in the commentary, an opportunity missed.

    Deleted and Extended Scenes. These raw, working shots depict Michael, Steven, and Nick in captivity, playing Russian roulette, and also feature Nick being questioned at a VA hospital. A couple of them were eliminated from the final cut of the film entirely, but most of them, apparently, were partially used, interspersed with cuts to other shots. While the they are well-done, the director made a wise decision to leave what he did on the cutting room floor.

    The Production Notes, coupled with the cinematographer's audio commentary, is the closest viewers can get to a behind-the-scenes or making-of look at the film and is the only place where we see (that is, read) Cimino comment first-hand, and all too briefely on how the film was realized. It also includes some brief insight from cast members Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

    The Theatrical Trailer. Rather compelling, it shows brief snippets of scenes from the movie, between which it intercuts, along with a dramatic drumroll, quotes reflective of its great critical acclaim. However, by touching on virtually every major segment of the movie with gradually increasing intensity, it seems to go too far and give away key plot developments.

    Some other special features I would have like to have seen are: a making-of feature with brief interviews of Cimino, the writing team, the producers, cinematographer, and all the major actors; a photo gallery; a music-only soundtrack for the feature; any available television spots advertising the film; and perhaps some commentary on the deleted scenes....more info
  • Realistic emotional impact of Viet Nam
    Two decades ago, when my wife and I were driving back home after viewing this movie, she burst into tears. She told me that she had never before realized what Viet Nam was like.

    I'm not sure that The Deer Hunter depicted the "real" Viet Nam, because the "real" Viet Nam was different for each of us that served there. What I can tell you is that The Deer Hunter very truthfully highlighted one simple fact: no individual who served in Viet Nam came back home the same!

    Robert De Niro's character, I think, aptly demonstrates one of the changes that the Viet Nam war could produce in its veterans - a renewed appreciation of life itself - especially that of a defenseless buck. Dressed in the garb of a warrior, De Niro's character wrestled with the transition from war to civilian life from his first few moments home. Later, in the misty hills of a hunting trip, he made the choice of NOT killing. Still later, he tried to rescue his best friend, who never left Viet Nam, from his surrealistic opiate hell.

    Don't watch The Deer Hunter as a mere war movie. See it as a realistic journey for one young man (against a backdrop of life as usual back home) from the innocence of early adulthood, through a foreign hell of warrior in Viet Nam, and finally the battle to wade through the emotional impact of Viet Nam and to reconcile all three.

    The Deer Hunter reveals the emotional damage, too-often permanent, that war exacts from its participants. It should be required watching for our nation's leaders before they decide to send more of our young men into war's particular brand of hell....more info
  • The emperor's new clothes
    Despite managing to give fleeting impressions of importance and quality, this film is a complete put-on. The long "set-piece" scenes (wedding, Russian roulette, etc.) are much discussed, usually either in the context of being "essential for character development" or "boring". In fact they're a delaying mechanism behind which the filmmaker attempts to hide his lack of storytelling skills. Once he does try to move things along, awkwardly jumping without explanation or exposition from one bloated set-piece to another, you can see the reason for his procrastination - despite being desperate to give the impression of profundity and truth, he really has nothing to say. The actors go a long way toward diverting attention from the film's awkward vacuousness, by giving false and short-lived impressions of character and narrative, but this falls apart whenever the filmmaker attempts to make anything "happen" narrative-wise.
    2 stars is rather generous, but De Niro, Walken and company deserve some recognition for some good acting, albeit for such a misguided cause. Ultimately, despite some controversy, many of the film's questionable portrayals of Vietnam, Vietnamese, America, Americans and war are to be condemned more for their cinematic silliness than for their historical inaccuracy....more info
  • the deer hunter
    this is the twin of "once upon a time in america" a soul moving epic of the kind of "webs we weave"don"t miss these two films!!...more info
  • One of the most emotionally shattering films ever made.
    First of all, whether the actual portrayal of Vietnam is correct in all of it details or not, this film is a masterpiece. It is one of the most emotionally devastating films ever made, and beware -- it is also one of the most depressing films ever made. Depressing because it makes you realize how futile the Vietnam war was and how it was conducted. And also depressing because no other film shows the lifelong emotional scars that Vietnam would leave on the men who served there. Whether you agreed or disagreed (as I did) with our country's purpose in being there, this film most definitely makes one honor and respect the brave men and women who served there...especially because, as the movie makes clear, most of them had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

    Many reviews on this board have said that the first hour or so of the film is slow and boring, but they are missing the point. Director Micheal Cimino has directed the movie like a three-act play and the structure deepens the emotional impact. He spends the first hour-and-a-quarter of the film showing us the day-to-day life and friendship of a group of close-knit blue collar guys. They are from a Ukrainian community in Pittsburgh and work in the steel mills. One of them - Steven (John Savage) - is getting married, and this section of the movie spends a good deal of time on the wedding ceremony and lively reception to show how relatively carefree their lives were at the time and how innocent they were. The simple purpose of three of these friends in going to Vietnam was to proudly serve our country in a time of war. No political stance is taken, just a sense of duty. They go on a final deer hunting trip together with their other friends before leaving. Director Cimino uses various symbolism during this section of the film -- notice during the wedding scene when Steven and Angela are told to gulp down the wedding cup by the priest and, if no drops are spilled, they will have good luck for the rest of their lives...then you seen several subtle drops fall on Angela's wedding dress. And the deer hunting trip, where Michael (Robert DeNiro) stresses the importance of taking "just one shot" to kill a deer.

    The film then abruptly shifts to the second act...being in the horrific battle settings of Vietnam. The three friends who are serving are captured by the Vietnamese and are forced to participate in a game of russian roulette. As continuously mentioned, these scenes are incredibly intense and disturbing. They do escape but become separated in doing so, and are destined to different fates. Michael, the most emotionally solid of the three, returns home but feels isolated and alone. Nick (Christopher Walken in an Oscar-winning performance) remains behind, both in a VA hospital and then in the city of Saigon itself...lured into an unimaginable situation. Steven returns home broken both emotionally and physically and, for a long time, refuses to go back home to his wife because of feelings of guilt, shame, and mistunderstanding.

    The third act shows the emotional consequences that Vietnam has taken on these men and how they play out. The final scene between Michael and Nick is powerful and unforgettable, as is the scene between all of the close friends back home singing "God Bless America". By the time the film concludes, our emotions have been fully drawn out in the same way a powerful piece of theatre would do.

    The performances are uniformly superb. Robert DeNiro as Michael is his third best-ever acting job, just behind 'Raging Bull' and 'Taxi Driver'. While remaining a great actor, he would never again be as great as he was in those two films and 'The Deer Hunter'. Same goes for Christopher Walken - this is, by far, his most memorable performance. He should have shared the best supporting actor Oscar trophy with John Savage, who, as Steven, is every bit as great as Walken in the movie. Meryl Streep is sparkling and beautiful as the girlfriend of Nick and object of desire for Michael. The editing, cinematography, and memorable score are all excellent.

    While perhaps not as accurate as 'Platoon' or as compelling as 'Apocalypse Now', 'The Deer Hunter', out of these three great film masterpieces about the Vietnam war, is by far the most hard-hitting on an emotional level. It remains one of those movies that, once seen, you will never forget it. 'The Deer Hunter''s excellence fully deserved the Best Picture honors for 1978. It remains an American masterpiece, and by far director Michael Cimino's greatest achievement.
    ...more info
  • Skip it
    I nearly fell asleep three times in the first hour alone. The last thirty minutes was a contrived joke and I hardly understand why it's called The Deer Hunter-should be plural. I like Deniro, Streep, and Walken but this movie is pretentious and boring....more info
  • no real bonus features
    on the 2nd unnecessary disc
    all there are are deleted and extended scenes
    production notes
    and original trailer
    thats it
    no anatomy of a scene
    or best picture acceptance speech...more info
  • An excellent film with powerful performances.
    The deer hunter is one of the greatest films that Robert de niro starred in its also highly emotional and provocative, the scenes in Vietnam are very intense and describes how the American soldiers are affected by this meaningless war and how they deal with it in thier own personal ways. The whole cast is superb which includes Deniro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale and Meryl Streep all of them were excellent and make these characters seem more real. As Deniro gets back home to the U.S. he is unable to shake his feelings and is still devestated by what happened, when he goes on a hunting trip with his friends he does not pull the trigger once he sees the deer in his sight but it seems that his friends were affected more as one of them is mentaly disturbed and is not like himself anymore, Deniro visits him in the hospital and hopes that he becomes better. The film also has the famous russian roulette scenes that were the highlight and makes for an unforgettable story of survival. The film's message was about how tragic and sad war can really be and how much impact it has on ordinary people it is very much essential viewing especially for those stupid republicans who support the war on Iraq thousands of lives are being killed and they think it just doesn't affect them, they should realise that both sides start to suffer anyway the film was quite extrodinary and I highly recommend this war drama. ...more info
  • YOu can never go back home
    The Deer Hunter home scenes was filmed were I have worked for the last 35years,Mingo Jct, Ohio.I even tried out for an extra in the movie.I remember coming out of work,and smelling fall,and it was the begining of summer.There were leaves everywere down town Mingo,and there's not a single tree on the block. I saw Meryl Streep walking out of one of the stores,and didn't even know who she was.This was one of her first big films.My older girl cousin,Stella,who is 6 foot tall walked into De Niro's trailer and asked for an autograph.He told her to "Get the hell out"but she wouldn't back down,and told her "if it wasn't for people like us,you'd be no one."I still enjoy this film,and still think John Savage was the greatest actor in his time.You can tell this movie had alot of Metod acting,and sometimes its over done,but "The Deer Hunter" is a classic.{A guy I work with in the Steel Mill,Denny Anderson,who served in Vietnam ,still loves to watch this film }...more info
  • the deer hunter - real art
    excellent film (disc?). russian roulette wasn't part of the Vietnam scene,
    but it was probably as close as you can get to THE RIGHT STUFF. good stuff on family and culture, which is almost completely gone now. wonder if the current generation would even relate to it at all?...more info