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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.

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(story), (story) | 3 more credits »
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832 ( 81)
Top Rated Movies #164 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Michael
... Stan
... Steven
... Nick
... Linda
... John
Chuck Aspegren ... Axel
... Steven's Mother
... Angela
Pierre Segui ... Julien
Mady Kaplan ... Axel's Girl
... Bridesmaid
Mary Ann Haenel ... Stan's Girl
... Linda's Father
... 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:

Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture 1978 See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

23 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Came to Play  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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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

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Christopher Walken, the historical context wasn't paramount: "In the making of it, I don't remember anyone ever mentioning Vietnam." Robert De Niro added to this sentiment: "Whether the film's vision of the war actually happened or not, it's something you could imagine very easily happening. Maybe it did. I don't know. All's fair in love and war." Producer Barry Spikings, while proud of the film, regrets the way the Vietnamese were portrayed. "I don't think any of us meant it to be exploitive", Spikings said. "But I think we were ignorant. I can't think of a better word for it. I didn't realize how badly we'd behaved to the Vietnamese people." Michael Deeley, on the other hand, was quick to defend Michael Cimino's comments on the nature and motives of the film: "The Deer Hunter (1978) wasn't really 'about' Vietnam. It was something very different. It wasn't about drugs or the collapse of the morale of the soldiers. It was about how individuals respond to pressure: different men reacting quite differently. The film was about three steel workers in extraordinary circumstances. Apocalypse Now (1979) is surreal. The Deer Hunter (1978) is a parable. Men who fight and lose an unworthy war face some obvious and unpalatable choices. They can blame their leaders, or they can blame themselves. Self-blame has been a great burden for many war veterans. So how does a soldier come to terms with his defeat, and yet still retain his self-respect? One way is to present the conquering enemy as so inhuman, and the battle between the good guys and the bad guys so uneven, as to render defeat irrelevant. Inhumanity was the theme of The Deer Hunter (1978)'s portrayal of the North Vietnamese prison guards forcing American POWs to play Russian Roulette. The audience's sympathy with prisoners who (quite understandably) cracked thus completes the chain. Accordingly, some veterans who suffered in that war, found the Russian Roulette a valid allegory." See more »

Goofs

Steve and Nick, while depicted as assigned to 101st Airborne Division, they were shown wearing Marine's M1955 flak vest with a rope ridge on the shoulder. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Fugitive Alien (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

The Stars and Stripes Forever
(1896) (uncredited)
Music by John Philip Sousa
Played at the wedding reception
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
It was 1978 and everyone in the audience was about to wet their pants
6 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

No, this is not the best film about the Vietnam War; it's hardly about Vietnam at all. The vets who don't like it have it wrong, as do the Vietnamese who found it racist. It could be any war, with any combatants. But because the (primary) victims here are recognizable American archetypes, Americans will feel this in their gut more than any other war film I know of. This is one of the very few post-war Hollywood films that shows a sincere reverence for the lives of small town Americans.

After seeing it in a very high quality theater on its initial release, I walked out thinking it was easily one of the best movies I had ever seen - and that I never wanted to see it again. But I looked at it today on cable and found that not much had changed about it, or me. I don't want to see it again...but I want you to see it.

Even now, the Russian Roulette scene (in context, people: watch all that comes before it first) is the single most intense sequence I've seen; it makes the end of "Reservoir Dogs" seem like a cartoon. Best Walken performance, period. Meryl Streep glows, DeNiro has seldom been more affecting. A unique classic...it is not surprising that Cimino didn't have another movie in him after something this wrenching.


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