The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter 
Director: Michael Cimino 
Release Date: 8th December 1978
Rating: 18
EMI Films 

Steven and Angela have invited you to their wedding! Enjoy the preparing, the ceremony, the party and the aftermath but be prepared for a long night. By the time you’re tapping your feet wondering when you can go home, things will only have just begun! Just stand in the corner and keep drinking, just keep drinking. The wedding is a long one, but ultimately worth it in the long run and you won’t even have a hangover the next day. Perfect for a spot of deer hunting. 

The Deer Hunter is a film which takes its time. It spends almost a third of the film time on a wedding and later scenes don’t exactly run much faster. It can be a real drag in those opening moments, but it pays off big time when the film moves into Vietnam. Three guys, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage) are set to go to war in Vietnam and the wedding is the last big event before they do so. The wedding displays their bonds and characteristics and while that long opening portion drags along like a real wedding service would, the characters come across strong, if a bit loud. But the sudden shift to the war with the three men captured by a group of Vietnamese is a stark and strong contrast. We’ve been to their wedding and deer hunting sessions, we don’t want to see them die in a game of Russian Roulette. It makes the moments to come tense, upsetting and hard to forget. Even if they shout too much.

The film doesn’t show much of the war outside of the roulette, but these moments convey what war is all about. One shot and your gone. The roulette scenes are prevalent throughout and it links the three characters in the war together as they all went through the same ordeal, just not all of them come out in one clean piece, mentally or physically. It does feel one-sided though, with the Americans being all that is good against the evil Vietnamese. They all play Russian Roulette over there like children play Pogs here.

The rest of the film deals with Michael’s return home and how hard it is to adapt after being involved in war. You go to hell and crawl back home, things just aren’t going to be the same. It’s incredibly sad and shows the after effects of a soldiers return home. There is a great desire for everything to return to how it was, back at the overly long wedding. But with a friend still in Vietnam, Michael can’t keep still and nor will you. A great film which manages to pull through despite a lot of fat attempting to clog things up. Just don’t try Russian Roulette at home, kids.


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