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The Deerhunter (blu ray)...Winner of 5 Academy Awards, plus a beautiful Love Theme (Cavatina) by John Williams
on March 8, 2012
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.