Newest Reviews
Frozen II
White Sheik, The
Whalebone Box, The
Hunt, The
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Battling Butler
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
Antonio Gaudi
Oscar, The
Color Out of Space
Newest Articles
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
  Deer Hunter, The You Weren't There, Man
Year: 1978
Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, George Dzundza, Chuck Aspegren, Shirley Stoler, Rutanya Alda, Pierre Segui, Mady Kaplan, Amy Wright, Mary Ann Haenel, Richard Kuss, Joe Grifasi
Genre: Drama, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: These friends from Pittsburgh are about as close as can be, they all work in the same steel mill, they share their social lives together, and have known one another for as long as they can remember. But it is the late nineteen-sixties, and in the United States a long shadow is being cast by a nation on the other side of the Pacific Ocean: Vietnam, where America's young men are drafted and sent to fight against the Communist threat there. In this case, three of them, Michael (Robert De Niro), Steven (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are preparing to be shipped out in a couple of days, but not before Steven is married which is happening tomorrow. They are certainly going to make a party of it at the reception...

Indeed, for the first hour The Deer Hunter appears to be a study in group alcoholism, so drunk do the main characters get; after clocking off at work they proceed to be almost consistently inebriated for the next forty-eight hours, and thereafter the all-important social gatherings that punctuated the plot were never far away from at least someone getting absolutely hammered. Was this a comment on how people use the demon drink to stave off the boredom and fear that threatens them at every turn, or was it that director Michael Cimino erroneously thought this was how real folks behaved? The latter would seem to be what he had in mind, with scene after scene devoted to his cast acting with as much realism as he could muster, or encourage in them.

The trouble with that was no matter how talented an actor was involved, simply winding them up and letting them go to try and act natural without a lot else to do other than that direction is going to lead to long sequences going nowhere, which was precisely what happened in the patience-testing wedding scenes, which took up most of that opening hour of a three-hour movie. Cimino's first editor wisely tried to cut this down, but the director would not listen and fired him to supervise the editing himself, an early example of the obsessive control he demanded over his productions that eventually made his name mud in Hollywood after the Heaven's Gate debacle following this. The Deer Hunter, however, was a huge success for him, garnering a clutch of Oscars and audiences flocking to see it.

It was in effect the initial movie on the Vietnam War to take the bull by the horns and show the terrible consequences on both the young men who were fighting in that conflict, and how it affected the United States back home. Before this, Hollywood had given the world John Wayne's The Green Berets, which nobody had thought of as especially accurate, so Cimino's passages concerning the war were vividly harrowing in contrast, more like what those who had only seen the images in the nightly news would imagine had been going on. There was one aspect that he got entirely correct: the pop culture of the U.S.A. would now worry over the wounds of Vietnam to the extent that they would never be healed as the self-examination coupled with a disbelief that it could all have gone so wrong for them proved horribly fascinating.

What Cimino didn't get right, according to everyone who had experience of the events, was just about everything else. In his drive to conjure up a visual metaphor for the folly of the errors made in South East Asia, he returned again and again in the following two thirds to the device of Russian Roulette, so that it became laboured to the point of disbelief. When Michael, Steven and Nick are captured by the Viet Cong, they are forced to gamble with their lives for the entertainment of their captors, and then we are supposed to accept that in Saigon this happened every night. Setting aside the issue that giving a loaded gun to your prisoner is not perhaps entirely sensible, as was highlighted at the time the Vietnamese to a man (and woman) were shown as utterly depraved, getting off on how cheap life was in their part of the world in the vilest ways possible: no wonder the film was so heavily protested at the time. The cast were fine, with the dying John Cazale delivering his accustomed integrity and Walken the broken heart of the piece, but De Niro, intended as the soul of the story, was frustratingly difficult to read, especially over such a long movie. In the end, the issues overwhelmed what once was looking to be an American classic, yet now looks very dubious. Memorable music by Stanley Myers.


Those extras include:

New Interview with David Thomson - film critic

A brand new and exclusive interview with author and film critic David Thomson

1979 ITV South Bank Show interview with Michael Cimino

A rarely seen ITV South Bank Show Interview from 1979 with director Michael Cimino provides an in-depth analysis of his inspirations and motivations for the making of the film

Realising The Deer Hunter
- Interview with director Michael Cimino
Shooting The Deer Hunter
- Interview with director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond
Playing The Deer Hunter
- Interview with star John Savage

Audio Commentary with Michael Cimino
Audio Commentary with Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher

Deleted and Extended scenes

Deleted and extended scenes from the original production including extra footage of the infamous Russian Roulette sequence.

All that plus:
64 page booklet including material written by Jay Glennie and adapted from his forthcoming numbered limited edition large format book 'One Shot: The Making of The Deer Hunter', new essay from David Jenkins, Editor of Little White Lies and pages from the original 1978 press book
Copy of early incarnation of the script entitled The Man Who Came to Play by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker
X 5 Artcards.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1642 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Michael Cimino  (1939 - 2016)

One of the most controversial directors to emerge from the burst of American talent of the nineteen-seventies. None of those directors had a totally easy ride from the critics or public, but he seemed to suffer the most, having started out moving from advertising to writing scripts for Silent Running and Magnum Force. Once Clint Eastwood noted his promise, he hired him to direct Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which some still believe is his best effort thanks to Eastwood reining him in. But next was The Deer Hunter, an Oscar-garlanded Vietnam War drama that the world responded to far better than any before, and he had his pick of projects.

Alas, this success went to his head and he became increasingly unbalanced, as the horror stories from his next movie Heaven's Gate would show, a huge flop that still divides opinion on its merits to this day. Cimino resurfaced with Year of the Dragon, a Mickey Rourke cop vehicle tainted by racism, and The Sicillian, an unpopularly benevolent view of an Italian crime lord. The Desperate Hours was a remake laughed off the screen in most places, and his last feature was spiritual drama The Sunchaser, barely seen in cinemas. He was discussing new projects to the end, but it seems his ego continually sabotaged his undoubted talent.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: