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The Deer Hunter (1978)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  23 February 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 213,856 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 991 user | 132 critic | 7 from

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.



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Top 250 Movies #150 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chuck Aspegren ...
Shirley Stoler ...
Pierre Segui ...
Mady Kaplan ...
Mary Ann Haenel ...
Richard Kuss ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Best Picture 1978 See more »


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

23 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Came to Play  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 10,994,967 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Michael Cimino spent six months shooting his film, and a further five months mixing the soundtrack. Since this was his first Dolby Stereo film, he was eager to exploit the technology to its fullest potential. A short battle sequence, for example, (200 feet of film) took five days to dub. For the re-creation of the American evacuation of Saigon, he accompanied composer Stanley Myers to the location and had him listen to the sounds of vehicles, tanks, and jeep horns as the sequence was being filmed. Myers then composed music for the sequence in the same key as the horns, so that it would blend with the images creating one truly bleak experience. See more »


During a brief moment, the whole camera crew becomes visible in a shop window. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in Hunter of the Apocalypse (1980) See more »


Waiting His Turn
(1978) (uncredited)
Music by Stanley Myers
Part of the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

It's about character development
21 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A comment re the other comments: A lot of the comments criticize the first half hour as being too long. In my opinion, these comments miss the point of the movie.

Of course many of the scenes in the first hour don't advance the narrative. They're not supposed to; they're for character development.

The whole point of the movie is to show us how the various characters were affected by the war. It wouldn't have worked nearly as powerfully as it does had the first hour been trimmed down. We have to sense the careless and frat-boy-like immaturity of these young men. That's why the scenes all revolve around frivolity and seemingly senseless boyish behavior; it creates such a stark contrast to the devastated characters of the three who went to war (and the relatively unaffected personalities of those who stayed behind, like Stanley).

The strong points of the film are the outstanding performances of nearly every actor in the movie. Yes, there are technical deficiencies in the sound, but it hardly matters. This is nitpicking compared to the overall construction of the film.

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