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The Deer Hunter (1978)

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An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director:

Michael Cimino

Writers:

Michael Cimino (story), Deric Washburn (story) | 3 more credits »
Popularity
789 ( 204)
Top Rated Movies #176 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Michael
John Cazale ... Stan
John Savage ... Steven
Christopher Walken ... Nick
Meryl Streep ... Linda
George Dzundza ... John
Chuck Aspegren ... Axel
Shirley Stoler ... Steven's Mother
Rutanya Alda ... Angela
Pierre Segui Pierre Segui ... Julien
Mady Kaplan ... Axel's Girl
Amy Wright ... Bridesmaid
Mary Ann Haenel ... Stan's Girl
Richard Kuss ... Linda's Father
Joe Grifasi ... Bandleader
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Storyline

Michael, Steven and Nick are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army to fight in Vietnam. Before they go, Steven marries the pregnant Angela, and their wedding party also serves as the men's farewell party. After some time and many horrors, the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette against each other. Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture 1978 See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian | Vietnamese | French

Release Date:

23 February 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Came to Play See more »

Filming Locations:

Mingo Junction, Ohio, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$48,979,328

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$49,074,243
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Had its British television premiere on January 1 1985 on BBC Two. See more »

Goofs

The credits list John D. Rockefeller III as the Governor of West Virginia, when in fact it was his son, Jay Rockefeller, or John D. Rockefeller IV. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Michael: Hey, watch out, Axel. We'll be calling him old fireballs after tonight.
Axel: Fuckin' A.
Michael: Not bad.
See more »

Crazy Credits

We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of our Thai crew in the production of "The Deer Hunter" See more »

Alternate Versions

The Region 2 Spain DVD is cut for violence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in NewsRadio: Xmas Story (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless America
(1918) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Sung by all in the final scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

an amateur's masterpiece
16 March 1999 | by MrsRainbowSee all my reviews

I'm a big DeNiro fan and since The Deer Hunter is a Best Picture winner as well as a DeNiro flick, I thought I'd enjoy it. I did, sort of. It definitely could have been better.

In particular, the infamous wedding scene. I have no problem with long scenes: I'm a Tarkovsky fan. But they must have a point, either character development, or else setting a mood. As I see it, the wedding scene did neither. It could have been cut much shorter without losing any of its effect, and that time could have been used to give greater insight into the life of the town and the relationships between Walken, DeNiro, Streep et al.

So the wedding finally ends, and almost instantly we're plunged into Vietnam and into "the scene." I didn't clock it, but I would bet that the wedding lasted almost as long or longer than their entire actual war experience. What was Cimino thinking? He was obviously striving for some sort of jarring contrast, but it didn't work at all. It just seemed sloppy to me. It was like a B-grade Coppola ripoff followed by something from an entirely different film, like Cimino had been watching TV and changed channels while taping. I understand that that was the point. It just wasn't done well.

Then the rest of the film is based on the trauma of Vietnam and how this affected the characters. That's fine, but it's built on just one scene. It's a tribute to "the scene" that this works at all. It is very poor writing and editing though in my opinion.

The remainder of the film is enjoyable, though ponderous at times, particularly the hunting scene. I did appreciate the treatment of DeNiro coming home. Excellent understatement. Just showing him having conversations with his friends, asking how they're doing, and having them say Oh same as always was fantastic. It wasn't sententious or melodramatic. Kudos on that.

The Deer Hunter seems like a half-finished sculpture. There are beautifully chiselled sections broken up by large chunks of untouched rock. The effect is very uneven. I guess the best way to sum it up is inconsistently poignant.

While The Deer Hunter is a solid film, it's not the best Vietnam movie, as it can't compare to the inexorable emotional intensity of Apocalypse Now, nor am I certain it was even the best movie of its year.


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