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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
1,210 ( 297)
Top Rated Movies #169 | 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:

One of the most important and powerful films of all time! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

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, 31 December 1980
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

One of very few films whose 70mm prints kept the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (letterboxed within the 70mm 2.20:1 frame), instead of simply being cropped to 2.20:1, as was done with most widescreen films blown up to 70mm. See more »

Goofs

In the first hunting scene as they're changing their clothes, Michael and Stan are arguing about Mike's boots. Nicky is seen putting on a sweater and had both arms in when it cuts back to Mike who delivers his "This is this" lines. When it cuts back to Stan and Nicky, Nicky is once again putting the sweater on as if it was never on in the first place. 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 Jeopardy!: Episode #22.11 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturne No. 6 in G Minor, Opus 15-3
(1833) (uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin
Played on piano by George Dzundza (probably dubbed)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Overlong and not as deep as it thinks but still a very good film
5 July 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Three steel workers from a small town in Pennsylvania prepare to go to war in Vietnam. The night before they go, Steven is married, sparking a large celebration. The next morning they go deer hunting one last time in the woods before they leave. Time passes and the three meet up again in Vietnam as prisoners of war. Brutal mental torture affects them in different ways before they escape and are separated again. Back in Pennsylvania Michael realises the extent to which the war has not only affected him but devastated the lives of his friends in different ways.

I have seen this film several times and I'll admit that I always assume that it is a classic film mainly because I saw it twice when I was in my early teens and was blown away by parts of it. I say this because I want to acknowledge that it may not be as great a film as many critics lists believe it to be, but at the same time I still watch it occasionally as I find it to be a moving story and a good film. The plot is moving if it is viewed on it's surface as a tale of three men whose lives are deeply affected by the war. Going past that to deeper themes I always feel that the film doesn't manage to be as deep as it thinks it is, so I try not to linger too long on these.

The breakdown of the film gives significantly more time to events in the home town rather than Vietnam. This is as it should be – for many people the war was a fleeting thing that has stayed with them for much longer than they were actually involved. The wedding scene is a little overlong but it does serve as a chance to get to see the characters in their setting before we quickly move to the events that changed them and the people they become. The time in Vietnam is quite short but very memorable (many people who have never seen the film will still know these scenes) and the final hour or so of the film is moving even if it takes things to an extreme to make it's point.

The cast make the film work as well, if not more, than the material itself. De Niro is the rock on which it all stands and is pretty good. The only weakness in his performance was that he was the one who had to be `the hero' type who does what he can. Walken gets the lion share of praise for his is the role that changes the most significantly throughout the film. It is easy to forget that he was not anywhere near as famous as De Niro at this time and it is amazing in that regard to see him hold his own. Savage gives a good performance and support is strong in the form of such actors as Cazale, Dzundza and Aspegren. Even Streep gives a performance refreshingly free of sentiment or forced accents.

The film is a little overlong and could easily have lost 30 minutes (although not all from one place) to give it a tighter feel. Some scenes feel stretched beyond their useful duration leading to the feel that the film wanted to be 3 hours long, rather than being cut back to 3 hours long. Despite this though I still think this is a good film that is a powerful story at it's heart. I personally don't think it would make my top 50 (were I ever to do one) but I will watch it again.


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