4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes You Can Never Go Home
Director Michael Cimino made this masterpiece and it seems to have drained all his talent, as he followed it up with the legendary "Heaven's Gate". Put that aside, as this is a riveting and thorough examination of a group of small town Pennsylvania steel workers that go to Vietnam with varying end results. Michael (Robert DeNiro), Steven (John Savage) and Nick...
Published on July 11 2004 by Martin A Hogan
3.0 out of 5 stars Deserves SOME credit......but...
I am 32 years old and was just a kid when this movie was released. My whole life I have heard about how phenomonal this movie was supposed to be. I consider myself a bit of a movie buff and have seen many films regarding the Vietnam conflict and the resulting after effects. I would never by any means disrespect those who served in that ridiculous conflict, I have the...
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by Mr. Customer
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes You Can Never Go Home,
Director Michael Cimino made this masterpiece and it seems to have drained all his talent, as he followed it up with the legendary "Heaven's Gate". Put that aside, as this is a riveting and thorough examination of a group of small town Pennsylvania steel workers that go to Vietnam with varying end results. Michael (Robert DeNiro), Steven (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are the best of buddies that regularly go deer hunting and bar hopping. The first hour of the film dives deeply into the personal aspects of each characters personality and make-up, including a long wedding scene that is preciously real. Suddenly the film turns from American normalcy to the horrors of the war. All three men are prisoners of war in hellish conditions, forced to take part in a cruel and devastating game of Russian roulette with their captors. The scenes of war are brief but to the point. It is pure madness and although the men 'survive', they are in differing states of change. The final act shows Michael desperate to get Steven back into the real world, but his biggest challenge is to rescue Nick, who, severely disturbed by his ordeal, has stayed back in Vietnam. The last scene with DeNiro and Walken is nerve wracking and heart-breaking. The ending is unforgettable. This is the kind of film that rarely comes along - the kind of movie that makes you feel like you are there. Trivia: The Pennsylvania mountains scenes are beautifully filmed, but it's painfully obvious it's the Cascades of Washington.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Deerhunter (blu ray)...Winner of 5 Academy Awards, plus a beautiful Love Theme (Cavatina) by John Williams,
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This review is from: The Deer Hunter (1978) [Blu-ray + DVD] (Sous-titres français) (Blu-ray)
This US version belongs to the Universal 100th Anniversary Edition set, and arrives at blu ray with VC-1 1080p 2.35:1 encode. This transfer is wonderful looking for a 34 year old film, with nicely saturated colours, beautiful sharpness and pleasing fine detail. The shadow detail is superb, especially in the many dark interior scenes which are quite frequent throughout the film. This is no evidence of excessive DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) applied here, which is a great relief. Universal has been known for such bad practices (e.g. Predator).
As Vilmos Zsigmond mentions in his fascinating commentary, the film utilizes quite a bit of stock footage (mostly for establishing shots), and in order to match the overly grainy look of that footage, he and Cimino found that they had to use copies of copies of prints since the Kodak film was so resilient to attempts to push contrast or exposure. This transfer looks wonderfully fluid and natural in motion, without any plastic smearing quality that would suggest too aggressive DNR. (4.5/5)
The Deer Hunter features a great sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix which is incredibly well detailed and immersive. Fidelity is very strong and the ambient environmental effects in both the Pennsylvania and Vietnam sequences are outstanding, offering a consistent use of the surrounds that really helps establish a convincing soundfield. The muffled dialogue is the main negative aspect of the audio. (4/5)
Fortunately, it is saved by the beautiful music score by Stanley Myers. The most memorable part of this movie for me is my favourite classical guitarist, John Williams, playing the Love Theme Of The Deerhunter (Cavatina), plus Sarabande. (Music 5/5)
Winners of 1979 Academy Awards:
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Best Film Editing:
William L. McCaughey
C. Darin Knight
Nominations for Academy Award:
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Robert De Niro
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:
Michael Cimino (story)
Deric Washburn (screenplay/story)
Louis Garfinkle (story)
Quinn K. Redeker (story)
TRIVIA & GOOFS:
Director Michael Cimino convinced Christopher Walken to spit in Michael's face. When Walken actually did it, Robert De Niro was completely shocked, as evidenced by his reaction. In fact, De Niro was so furious about it he nearly left the set. Cimino later said of Walken, "He's got courage!"
The deer which Michael allows to get away was actually an elk - the same one often used on commercials for Hartford Insurance. The crew had a very difficult time trying to get the elk to look at them, as it was apparently used to various noises; it finally looked at them when someone in the crew yawned.
John Cazale was very weak when filming began, and for this reason, his scenes were filmed first. Michael Cimino knew from the start that Cazale was dying from cancer, but the studio did not. When they found out, they wanted to replace Cazale. When Meryl Streep learned of their intentions, she threatened to quit if they did. Cazale died shortly after filming was completed.
During some of the Russian Roulette scenes, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors' tension. This was Robert De Niro's suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.
The wedding sequences were filmed in the summer, but were set in the fall. To accomplish a look of fall, leaves were removed from trees and painted orange. They were then reattached to the trees.
The deer hunting scene was actually shot in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The mountain shown in the background is Mount Baker.
Cavatina was first written for a film called The Walking Stick. Stanley Myers then wrote the whole piece and much later it was used as the theme to the movie The Deer Hunter. And the rest is history.
The Deer Hunter is a classic war film that chronicles with unflinching realism the horrors of battle and the mental and physical toll combat exacts on both the soldiers who fight and the loved ones they leave behind. This US blu ray version is superior to the UK version, and definitely much better than the previous DVD release. To listen to John Williams (not the Star Wars guy) playing the haunting and beautiful Cavatina is worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
Finally, I do not understand why Amazon.ca would put the "old" reviews for the DVD version of the movie in the blu ray section. This is very confusing for all the readers. So, look at the date of the review before you read further, so that you do not waste your valuable time. I hope this point and the above review are helpful to you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning accomplishment in modern American cinema,
The Deer Hunter is a poignant, stunning achievement. It contains some of the most memorable performances in recent history. The story centers around a group of working class steelworkers and their girlfriends during the time of the Vietnam War. Three of the men leave for Vietnam, while their tightly knit group of friends stay home. The first act of the film chronicles the events leading up to the departure of De Niro (Michael), Nicky (Christopher Walken) and Steve (John Savage). There is a scene in the local bar where the pals gleefully sing Frankie Valli's Can't take my Eyes off you" in their excited anticipation of combat and their friend's wedding. The actual Vietnam scenes are brief, yet there is one harrowing, controversial scene where a group of Viet-Cong supporters use captive American and South Vietnamese soldiers as sacrificial lambs in a game of Russian Roulette. This scene exhibits perhaps the best acting of De Niro's career. He and Walken are at the bring of death. This scene is so intense, so calculated you actually feel you are sitting in the ramshackle hut on the Mekong Delta.
The film also exhibits the beauty of Meryl Streep, who at the time of the film was a relatively new name in Hollywood. Her acting is subtle and brilliant. The supporting cast including the portly George Dzundza is perfect in this film. Unfortunately, Camino made the dreadful Heaven's Gate after The Deer Hunter, and the former's reputation damaged the acclaim of the latter. The Deer Hunter is a great movie, perhaps one of the best in recent history.
5.0 out of 5 stars You want to see this movie,
This is a great movie and most certainly deserved the oscar for best picture in 1978. Not to mention it is Michael Cimino's second and he makes it his best directorial entry. A group of Pennsylvania Deer Hunters who are also industrial workers in a factory enlist and go fight in the Vietnam conflict. If you are a fan of great cinematography you will love this picture because it offers the gallery of beautiful countryside landscapes and and excellent score to go along with them. Robert De Niro is great(in his favorite role as an actor) That was a qoute made by himself in his biography The Untouchable. The Vietnam scenes are remotley disturbing when they introduce the "Russian Roliet" to the soldiers. It is also an opprotunity to see Christopher Walken in his oscar winning performance. Please at least rent this or even better! next time it is on AMC take a look at it. You won't regret it or feel cheated
Directed by Michael Cimino
Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, and John Savage.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great film,
This movie is worth the viewing, actually worth several viewings. Although I cant say I totally relate, as a veteran of our most recent war, I can empathize with many of the emotions DeNiros character feels upon his homecoming (although I wont even pretend that I experienced anything even remotely close to what he did). Although not a big Meryl Streep fan, her performance was outstanding to such a level, that it didnt really seem like acting. It seemed like life, recorded, which is what makes a movie believable. Walkins performance was also very good, although I must admit, I wish his character could have had a happier ending, but that was part of the point. This movie has an important distinction from most war movies. Usually a few side characters die, but in the end the hero meets up with his love and everything is happy. There is SOME of that in the filme, but it also shows what life is like after the war for those who were left behind, and those who made it through, but just barely. All in all just an outstanding, very believable movie. My only criticism would probably be the wedding scene but that is mostly due to my short attention span, it seemed very long. But I know many reviewers would argue that that was where we gain insight into the community and its people etc etc. All in all, highly recommended. If you are not into older films, you may want to rent it first before purchasing, cause chances are you will either really like it, or not like it at all.
2.0 out of 5 stars THIS ONE STRUCK A NERVE - PURE DISGUST!,
"The Deer Hunter" is one of those films that, once seen, will linger in the recesses of your mind forever. It's a powerful, painful reminder of the Vietnam fiasco that doomed American POW's to a haunted hell of torture and torment with ultimately no vindication in a homecoming for their suffrage. Robert DeNiro is Michael - a stoic loner whose home fires burn for Linda (Meryl Streep), the girl of his best friend, Nick (Christopher Walken). But when the boys are drafted into the Vietnam War they leave their small mining town to serve their country. After a lengthy wedding scene (which frankly, is too long) between Steven (John Savage) and Angela (Rutanya Alda) the boys, including Steven ship off to war. They are captured, tortured and forced to play a demented game of Russian roulette. Nick loses his mind, abandons all hope of returning home and eventually kills himself in a game of roulette for profit. Steven's legs are so badly bitten through by rats that they have to be amputated to save his life, with the net result of permanent emotional scars destroying any chance for his happiness with Angela. Only Michael emerges relatively unscathed by his experience - still stoic and alone and in search of some sort of personal satisfaction that seemingly will never come to him. The film, an American classic, pulls no punches in presenting the grim, hard reality of life during and after the Vietnam war. It deserves far better treatment than what it current has been given on DVD.
The transfer from Universal is terribly flawed. Not even anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions, the 2:35:1 picture is marred by digital artifacts, tiling, edge enhancement, pixelization, aliasing and a terribly rendered color scale that is unbalanced and, in spots, terribly faded. Colors bleed and are muddy. Film and digital grain are way too excessive. Shadow and contrast levels are poor. Blacks are not solid or deep. There's really nothing to recommend this visual presentation. The audio is remastered but very strained in both its bass and high end levels. Finally, there are no extra features. Don't waste your money.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Vietnam Film?,
By A Customer
The Deer Hunter ("TDH") Basic Plot: 3 'best friends' steel workers go to Vietnam and come back in various states (dead, alive, maimed, etc.).
This is a war movie, yet with only a small portion of combat action. This is much more of a "get inside your head" film about the effects of war. It is brutal and unforgettable. If you like the intensity of 'The Killing Fields', this film is much the same. One particular scene, the infamous Russian Roulette scene in the river hut, is arguably the most intense scene ever filmed. It is very difficult to watch, and helps explain why some people who go to war literally are never, ever the same.
Having lived in Pittsburgh during the era when this film 'took place', and knowing people not unlike the steelworkers in the film, the first thing viewers need to know is that Pittsburgh scenes are accurate (although not all filmed in Pittsburgh). What first comes across as a way-too-drawn-out and overly-stylized opening scenes of the wedding and hunting, is actually quite like the robust and rough lifestyle of these All American workers, and serves well to contrast with the chaos of 'Nam.
For younger people who do not quite relate to the Vietnam era, this is film is a must-see. Other goods 'Nam films are 'Coming Home' (for relationships), and 'Hamburger Hill' (for combat action). 'Platoon' is probably the most 'balanced' on the Vietnam films, although the mental and artistic side of TDH, I feel, is better.
The photography and music of TDH is superb, as is the casting and the on-location filming. The one odd bit of 'license' in TDH is the hunting scenes. There is no place anywhere near Pennsylvania that has mountains like those shown in this movie (these scenes were film north of Seattle, where there are glaciers), but TDH 'mentality' is very much a 'religion' in this part of America (as well as some other areas, such as Michigan).
This film is better on DVD than VHS as it has panoramic scenery, and the higher fidelity of the DVD makes the soundtrack more realistic.
This is no lightweight movie, and like Titanic, leaves you numb for a while after watching it. I would rate this film as easily in the Top 10 war movies ever made, right up there with 'Patton', 'Paths of Glory' and 'Private Ryan.
A final tidbit, Streep has a supporting role and does a superb job. Her lover at the time was John Cazale (Michael Corleone's 'dumb' brother, 'Fredo', in 'The Godfather') who plays one of the threesome's friends who does not go to war. Casselles died shortly after TDH was made, and TDH was among Streep's earlier roles that really got her career rolling ('Kramer vs. Kramer' and 'Out of Africa' were in the same time frame).
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Emotional War Movie About Friendship,
The first time I watched this extraordinary film, I didn't like it as much as I would later on. At first it seemed a little sloppy and slow, with some very intense and memorable sequences. This is definitely a film that grows on you, and come to love after a few viewings. Robert DeNiro stars as Michael, an ambitious guy who loves to shoot pool with his buddies and go hunting. Their world suddenly changes when Michael and his two friends Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage) go off to war in Vietnam.
This film shows the brutal intensity and reality of war and what the main characters are forced to go through. When they finally get back, their social and home lives have changed...mostly for the worse. We then see how each character copes with the effects of war, and loss of friendship.
One thing I've learned about some great masterpieces, is that they always seem to have a song before a huge event occurs. For example, in Pulp Fiction "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon," before Mia overdoses. In "The Deer Hunter," there is a scene early on in the film where all friends sing and dance to "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" with Christopher Walken leading. This scene sticks out in my mind as brilliant. While watching this scene, you become absorbed in the film and become close friends with the characters. It's really powerful, and a last good time before going off to war.
You may start watching this film and find the picture to be too grainy, or the plot too boring, but trust me...stick with it. It will most definitely be a film that will stay in your heart for some time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Underlying theme of film not undermined by script flaws,
The Deer Hunter was a very important film in that it, if nothing else, served as one of the first studies of the effects of the Vietnam war on the average American citizen. While film and television had dealt with the Vietnam conflict to some degree previous to this (John Wayne's The Green Berets  and Rod Serling's Twilight Zone episode entitled "In Praise of Pip"  come to mind), serious efforts in depicting the war realistically, as well as the war's effects on its participants, had simply been avoided, presumably for political and social reasons. With the release of "The Deer Hunter" (as well as with "Coming Home") in 1978, the topic of Vietnam was presented to the public in the form of gritty, realistic productions from major studios. These 2 films certainly must have had an impact on an audience which may not have had a personal, non-distilled understanding of the Vietnam war prior to their release. In fact, graphic scenes such as the Russian Roulette sequence of the Deer Hunter may have (erroneously) informed many on what the everyday GI in Vietnam had to endure at the hands of the VietCong. In this respect, I can understand the distain that reviewers such as Yisrael Harris ("Fantasy Masquerading as Reality") have for this film. As one of the first dramatic studies of Vietnam ever committed to celluloid, it could be said that the narrative of The Deer Hunter had a responsibility to portray events according to historical truths. This would insure that the structure of the film would faithfully inform a public that may have been getting their first glimpse of war-time atrocities. That being said, I think it is wrong to condemn the film based upon the fact that the historical accuracy of a key sequence is unfounded in the record books. Certainly, the atrocities committed by both sides of the Vietnam conflict were unimaginably cruel (ex: My Lai). When one considers this, is it that far-fetched to ask the viewer to believe that a gang of Vietcong could ruthlessly force US POWs to engage in Russian Roulette for their sick enjoyment and financial gain? I think it is a perfectly legitimate concept and, in the midst of so much war and bloodshed, what makes it inappropriate, other than the fact that it is undocumented? (In a far more legitimate criticism, one could make the argument that the Vietnamese soldiers are unfairly depicted as one-dimensional, innately cruel, soulless dregs). Nothing portrayed in that sequence would be considered 'unfathomable' in the pantheon of war. In Harris's review, he states that "I took it for granted, without even a second thought, that these [Russian Roulette] scenes portrayed a phenomenon that was a legitimate part of the Vietnam War experience". At no point does the film suggest that this type of activity was a widespread phenomenon within Vietnam. The film treats this as an isolated incident within one remote POW camp. To take for granted that this type of behavior was widespread is simply inappropriate and is not a product of a suggestive script, but rather an uninformed viewer. It is true that the Russian Roulette scene has more than a passing influence on the rest of the film, what with Christopher Walken's character becoming a willing pawn in an underground roulette gambling ring under a drug-influenced stupor. But this is an organized arrangement entered into by two willing parties, not an act of torture, as the previous scene is. Harris goes on in his review to ask "So what is the message of this movie?" and wonders how "to treat seriously a movie which takes such pains to build up a realistic group of characters... when a central pillar of the experience of the movie is total fantasy-land". Again, I hardly think that Russian Roulette is an unfathomable event within the scope of one of the bloodiest conflicts in US history, and the analogy of suggesting the similarity of a Russian Roulette sequence to a UFO invasion is utterly ridiculous. As they say, all is fair in love and war, and the idea that man's inhumanity to man could not include a cruel game of Russian Roulette is simply naive. The fact that there are no recorded incidents of this happening is irrelevant. This is after all, a fictitious account of ordinary people devastated by war, and in that regard it works on many levels. Besides, if the ultimate goal of the picture is to show the destructive power of war, both physically or emotionally, what difference does it make which vehicle is used to illustrate the destruction?
3.0 out of 5 stars Deserves SOME credit......but...,
I am 32 years old and was just a kid when this movie was released. My whole life I have heard about how phenomonal this movie was supposed to be. I consider myself a bit of a movie buff and have seen many films regarding the Vietnam conflict and the resulting after effects. I would never by any means disrespect those who served in that ridiculous conflict, I have the utmost respect for our fighting men and women having served myself. But does this movie really deserve all the accolades it receives?
Yes it is a good film. Good, not tremendous drop everything and kneel at the cinema alter. This movie is seperated into 3 hours, each hour documenting a different period in the characters lives. By far the most powerful and redeeming portion of this film (for me anyway) was the 2nd hour which focuses on the characters while serving in Vietnam. I don't think anyone can deny the second hour of this fim is powerful and well worth the praise it receives. But this alone does not make it a fantastic film. I LOVE Christopher Walken. LOVE him. But did he really deserve an academy award for his performance in this film? I can think of 5 other movies off the top of my head that Walken should have received Oscars, or at least a nod for.
And did this film really deserve the best picture of 1978? I am asking this as a legitmate question. 1978 must have had some slim pickin's at the movies that year if these awards were rightly presented. Now I realize that possibly in '78 when this movie was released, it was worthy of everything it received. The conflict in Vietnam was just barely over and it probably touched a chord with many viewers. And many of us also have the benefit of many years of vietnam movies since then to compare this movie against. In my opinion no one can touch PLATOON for the raw emotion and power in that film. Hamburger hill is also a bit of an underated classic in that sense.
I recognize that The Deer Hunter is much more than a war movie. I realize it touches on the charcters lives before and after their experience in Vietnam. I realize the director was trying to get the audience to connect and bond with the characters and help us understand and relate to them so we could feel something for them. But my God was a 35 minute wedding/reception scene really needed to do this?! I NEVER fast forward a movie when I'm watching it..almost never anyway....and I found myself trying to fast forward this supposed American classic so I could get to the meat of the story..it was embarrassing. I feel this movie would have been infinetly better if it was cut down to 2 hours, maybe 2hrs and 15 min. I just felt what ultimately wrecked this long awaited movie experience for me ( I actually waited to watch it until I got my new TV I was so excited to see it) was its unneccesary length. Some people feel this length was needed to tell the story. I completely disagree.
Maybe I just dropped the ball on this one...I was really bummed after watching this movie because I had hyped myself for YEARS to see it...and who knows...maybe that's why I didn't think it was as great as everyone else. But I must admit, the performances by Walken and De Niro in the 2nd hour alone were amazing and brought this movie back out out of the depths of boredom for me.
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The Deer Hunter (1978) [Blu-ray + DVD] (Sous-titres français) by Robert de Niro (Blu-ray - 2012)
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