The Deer Hunter (1978)
Frequently Asked Questions
Three deer hunting buddies—Michael "Mike" Vronsky (Robert De Niro),Nikanor "Nick" Chevotarevich (Christopher Walken), and Steven "Steve" Pushkov (John Savage)—who work together at a steel mill in Clairton, Pennsylvania, enlist in the Army and are sent to Vietnam where they witness the horrors of the Vietnam war, changing the direction of their lives.
The Deer Hunter started life as an unproduced screenplay about Russian roulette in Las Vegas called The Man Who Came to Play by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker. The script was rewritten by writer/director Michael Cimino and American screenwriter Deric Washburn, who re-set the film in Vietnam. The movie won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Picture.
Mike tracks down Nick, finding him in a seedy, Russian roulette club in Saigon, but Nick doesn't recognize him. Mike buys his way into a game with Nick so that he can continue to try and jog Nick's memory but to no avail. After playing the first round successfully, Mike grabs Nick's arms and notices the tracks along the veins. He tries to remind Nick of the forests and their hunting trips together. "One shot," Nick replies, seeming to remember their hunting motto. Suddenly, he raises the gun to his temple, takes his "one shot," and blows out his brains. The final scene takes place in a bar back in Clairton, following Nick's funeral. Mike, Steve, Linda (Meryl Streep), et al, sit down to a very somber breakfast while singing "God Bless America", following which they raise their glasses of beer in a toast to Nick.
The hunting scenes were filmed in Washington's northern Cascade Mountains, far from Pennsylvania. The mountain shown in the background is Mount Baker.