The Deer Hunter

D: Michael Cimino
Universal/EMI (Michael Deeley, Barry Spikings, John Peverall & Michael Cimino)
USA 🇺🇸 1978
183 mins


W: Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, Louis Garfinkle & Quinn K. Redeker
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Ed: Peter Zinner
Mus: Stanley Myers

Robert DeNiro (Michael), John Cazale (Stan), John Savage (Steven), Christopher Walken (Nick), Meryl Streep (Linda), George Dzundza (John), Chuck Aspegren (Axel), Rutanya Alda (Angela)

Bum-numbingly long but powerful and ultimately depressing drama about the effects of war on the human psyche.
The Vietnam war itself is very much on the periphery of the storyline, with the majority of the first half set in an industrial town with a large Russian Orthodox populace, where four friends going about their usual business of work, drinking, a friend's wedding and deer hunting in the mountains.
When the friends go to the war together, they are captured by the Vietcong and forced to play Russian Roulette.
The psychological damage and post traumatic stress that the men suffer due to their wartime exploits occupy the final third of the film with each of the men dealing with it in various ways, before a finale which is like a punch to the gut.
Robert DeNiro delivers a great performance as Michael, who is virtually in every scene, but the movie is stolen by Christopher Walken as Nick, quite possibly one of the greatest supporting performances of all time.
At three hours long, it's not a film you could enjoy repeat viewings with, but it's a film you have to give the respect of watching at least once. Winner of the 1978 Best Picture Oscar.

Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter
Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter