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USA 1978
Directed by
Michael Cimino
183 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars

The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter is powerful account of the impact of the Vietnam war on a group of working class buddies in a Pennsylvania steel town. Although spending way too long in setting up the characters and their relationships, something which makes the rest of the movie, at a whisker over 3 hours, harder work than necessary, it is in every other respect an impressive achievement.

For once, the Academy got it right in dishing out 5 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director to it and Cimino. It should be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated, with Vilmos Szigmond's Panavision photography outstanding. Performances are remarkable with Meryl Streep, in her first star role, luminous (and picking up a Best Supporting Oscar. She was then romantically involved with John Cazale who plays Stan and who died of cancer shortly thereafter).

The film was widely criticized for its depiction of the Vietcong as the faceless enemy and even in its homeland as a Pentagon version of the disastrous war. The final scene, with the group of friends singing God Bless America, although making sense in the context of the story, albeit a little strained from a realistic point of view, is also at best a questionable choice of resolution. Notwithstanding, The Deer Hunter is one of the iconic films of late 70s America.




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