Oscars Challenge #85: The Deer Hunter (1978) Movie Review
Another Best Picture winner that deals with the harsh experiences of American Soldiers in the Vietnam War. Like Platoon, this movie discusses the psychological and mental effects of the battle against young troops.
Before even trying to watch this film, you must ensure you can stomach some brutal scenes because it contains many. Plus, it would be best to get through to that almost hour-and-a-half wedding sequence that diverts you to the movie's real story.
The Deer Hunter focuses its story on a group of friends working at a steel mill, Mike, Steve, and Nick. They are joined by their co-workers when they do their traditional deer hunting session. The three friends are preparing to participate in the Vietnam War. Mike and Nick are very close, live together, and are also in love with the same girl, Linda. She decided to move into their house since her father was abusive and alcoholic. Steven gets married to Angela, who is secretly pregnant with another person. Linda accepts Nick's marriage proposal. The friends do a final deer hunt before preparing for their Vietnam stint.
A few months later, in Vietnam, Mike, Nick, and Steven get captured by the Viet Cong while they experience harsh treatment. They are forced to participate in a Russian Roulette. Nick and Mike were able to outwit their captors and escape with Steven.
As the trio escapes through the river, Nick is shot. They were soon rescued by an American helicopter, but Steven fell into the river. Mike follows him and gets separated from Nick. The two manage to go to Saigon, where they are tended. Nick was treated in a hospital but suffered from PTSD. He wanders day and night to a gambling den and participates in Russian roulette. Mike returns home and is surprised that Nick never came back. He struggles to return to society and promises Linda to take him home.
This movie brought in the talents of Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, Meryl Streep, and many more. This is also John Cazale's last film before succumbs to his illness. He was not able to watch the actual movie.
The Deer Hunter may have started very slowly, with an almost 90-minute wedding sequence that diverts you from its story. I think this is still an essential watch. I am unsure if you can fast-forward a couple of scenes from the wedding and just run straight through the Vietnam War, and you will still feel that you did not skip anything.
As you can already tell, this film popularized the Russian Roulette scene. However, it was not well-received by many because it didn't really happen during the Vietnam War. There were also no recollections or anything told about Russian Roulette. The film may have added that to bring a more cinematic effect and suspense.
Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken drove this film for me. They played great, and most of their scenes were gut-wrenching. It's a no-brainer Christopher Walken won the Best Supporting Actor award.
Despite the long and slow wedding sequence, this film is a good and brutal watch. It is still an essential watch that one must add to their list.
A good 3.5 out of 5 stars.