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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Must See Movie: The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter is such a great movie that I'm not sure where to begin talking about it. This is one of those times in film where all the stars align and every element is perfectly in place. Winning 5 academy awards including best picture, The Deer Hunter is one of the great films of the 70's. It's very appealing to all tastes and seems to have something for everyone. It has enough action to keep the guys happy and enough romance to keep the girls happy. Besides, we all love a good drama every now and then.

The over all appeal and broadness of the film is not forced though. It just kind of happens, like it wasn't written but has just always been there. Like we are dropping in on the lives of these people. To me, The Deer Hunter isn't just about steelworkers, love, friendship, war, Vietnam, insanity, loss, guilt, or deer hunting. It's about life.

Director Michael Cimino's masterpiece not only owes it's success to it's beautifully written story, but also to it's greatly talented cast.

Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken are steelworkers from Pennsylvania. When they're not working or at the bar with the guys drinking, they go deer hunting. The group spend one last drunken wild weekend together before De Niro and Walken's characters are sent to Vietnam. While there, they get captured by the Vietnamese, where they are forced to play Russian roulette.

Some argue that this movie is slow moving, and it is, but when it gets to the Russian Roulette scene, everyone shuts the hell up! You're so glued to the screen and engrossed in the movie that you realize that sitting through the slow parts and waiting this one out may be the best decision you've ever made in your life! This sequence is one of the best moments in film history!

After their tour in Vietnam, De Niro's character returns home. Walken's character is M.I.A. Walken leaves behind a young Meryl Streep, whom he proposed to right before he left. We get a strong sense that the two (De Niro and Streep) are very attracted to each other, but their conscience doesn't want to let them cross that line. 

I won't tell you anymore because I don't want to ruin anything for you if you haven't seen it.

This movie has balls. I compare The Deer Hunter to "No Country for Old Men" or "The Unforgiven" in the fact that it was a movie that had guts and grit but was so good that the mainstream recognized it's greatness as well. Films like these seem to come along once every decade or so. I think it needs to happen more often. 


  1. I remember when I was in high school (I'm dating myself, I know) a local TV station decided to broadcast this movie "intact and without commercial interuption" - a very unusual and gutsy thing for back then. The station manager appeared at the beginning of the film, very somber, and announced that the film was unusual in that, if cut in any way, would lose "its essence." I will be forever gratefull to that gentleman. To this day, I have not seen anything in film to rival the sheer, get-wrenching power of the "Russian Roulette" scene and don't expect too. -- Mykal from Radiation Cinema - -P.S. Keep up the good work!

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