96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
Not having seen this movie in years, it was with some trepidation that I watched. Like many films of this stature, it can be difficult to view at times. Of course many will remember the time when the 3 best friends are captured by the Viet Cong and forced into games of Russian roulette. Knowing those scenes pretty well, equal focus should be placed on the long build up in the first act which shows how those friendships evolve.
There is no doubt Christopher Walken deserved his Oscar, but watch the byplay between De Niro's title character and that of Meryl Streep's who is the girlfriend of Nick (Walken) and Michael's (Robert De Niro) best friend. At first there are the glimses and subtle attraction. Michael is clearly smitten by Linda (Streep), but stays at a distance because of her relationship with Nick. Linda likes Michael but more like a brother or best friend. This relationship awkwardly changes, but while Michael has romance in mind, Linda still loves Nick. Yet she is also very lonely and torn by the fact that Michael is there and has always paid attention to her. This is certainly some good writing but the acting delivers this aching relationship in a profound way. Yes the movie is long, clocking in at over 3 hours and can be grueling at times, but this is a landmark film by any standard.
This new Blu ray combo pack Blu-ray/DVD combo pack presents the film in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The video transfer is excellent. The colors are deep and vibrant, the detail is sharp, and the dark scenes are especially well presented. The DTS-HD Master Audio is incredibly immersive. The surrounds are often in play, especially in the Vietnam sequences. The dialog is clear and well presented. The LFE channel is used in critical scenes.
The disc also contains the following supplements:
Deleted and extended scenes
Commentary with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and film journalist Bob Fisher
100 Years of Universal: Academy Award Winners featurette
72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2000
We've seen alot of Veitnam war movies since Deer Hunter. Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Oliver Stone's trilogy & various others. All have great moments,especially Kubrick's version,but Cimino's "Deer Hunter" is the Grand Daddy,in my opinion. De Niro's incredible acting is only equalled by Walken,Streep,Cazale & Savage. It's Streep's first film appearance & Cazale's last~(They were a couple at the time, Cazale died of cancer before the film's release)~. I have never taken the Academy Awards seriously since they awarded Jon Voigt & Jane Fonda oscars for "Coming Home"~(another Vietnam film)~ instead of De Niro & Streep for "Deer Hunter". Walken walked away with best supporting actor,& deservedly so. It is an incredibly powerful movie. The DVD,although a little dark looking,is great to watch. To be able to access any scene...I still marvel. This is a film you HAVE to see if you have any kind of love for the movies.
270 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
If you really want to get the most out of viewing this picture, don't make the mistake many of these Amazon reviewers do, by either assuming the politics of Cimino et al or using your own pro- or anti-America agenda as a critical yardstick. Because really this film isn't proselytizing a particular viewpoint, unlike Cimino's disastrous followup HEAVEN'S GATE. And don't think of it solely as a war movie. Actually, it's a lot like GONE WITH THE WIND: an epic-scale look at life and society in a specific place and time in the past (in this case, 1968, ten years before the film was made), and how folks send off their high-spirited young men to a war that no one pays a great deal of mind to - and how that war shatters not only the young men but the world they left behind, forever. The wedding scene IS long and in lesser hands on either side of the camera would be a dead weight but Cimino and lensman (sorry) Vilmos Zsigmond frame it in reverent widescreen grandeur, and a once-in-a-lifetime cast nails every character nuance and conversational tic, so that the scene flows on and on, vibrant with life and perfectly evoking not only a rust-belt town but the fast-fading rust-belt values of the nation. Besides, with a cast like this movie's, working at the height of their powers with inspired material, you really don't want scenes to end. When the movie segues to Vietnam, the tone shifts to horror and finally surrealism. Many consider this portion of the movie horribly racist, but that's a safe, kneejerk-liberal reaction. These aren't Harvard freshmen, they're barely-educated steeltown kids being sent to a faroff jungle to kill VC, who get captured & tortured by the men they are trying to kill. For enlightened liberal pieties to inform the dialogue or the tone of these scenes would be criminally false. That's probably what makes this a great flick, however, that right-wingers can despise it for its obvious liberalism and the bleeding hearts can hate it for its reactionary jingoism. Ain't consensus wonderful? Check your own politics at the door before watching this (widescreen version only!) and savor four transcendent performances by DeNiro, Savage, Walken & Streep, plus the late John Cazale doing his patented sweaty-weasel turn as an added bonus.
76 of 88 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Cimino's THE DEER HUNTER is difficult to describe. The film opens with a long and complex sequence depicting events surrounding an elaborate wedding in a steel mill town--and then vaults several of that community's young men into a hellish vision of the Vietnam war, from which the survivors return so completely changed that they no longer fit into the community from which they originally came.
There are several critical issues with THE DEER HUNTER. When it was first released, audiences were very positive about the film--but they complained about the opening "home town" sequence, which they described as slow and over-long. The studio accordingly edited the sequence to half its original length--but when the edited version was shown, audiences were considerably less enthusiastic about the film in general and complained that it lacked impact, and the edited portion was restored. Audiences still complain about the opening sequence, seldom realizing that it provides the point of comparison that makes the remainder of the film so powerful--and in any case, this fact is something that can only be recognized by viewers in hindsight, a circumstance that does not help them weather the first portion of the movie when they actually see it. Many also complain that the plot is improbable. Once the three leads (Robert De Niro, John Savage, and Christopher Walken) reach Vietnam, they are unexpectedly reunited just in time to be captured and tortured together. In the film's most famous scene, the three are forced to play Russian roulette against each other--and although they escape, one is maimed (Savage) and the other (Walken) so emotionally traumatized that he vanishes into Vietnamese underworld, where he re-enacts the horror of his torture by playing Russian roulette as a gambling game.
But for all its glitchiness, THE DEER HUNTER is a remarkably intense, remarkably disturbing film--particularly when the discharged De Niro returns home only to find himself surrounded by old friends whose 'broads and beer' lives seem incredibly trivial in comparison to his own experience. He has changed; they have not; what has been lost cannot be recovered. But there can be a sort of redemption through an acceptance of the change that has been forced upon him--and by trying to bring others who have suffered to that same acceptance. Cimino's direction and overall vision is loose, to say the least, but he draws extraordinary performances from an extraordinary cast. De Niro gives what may be the most subtle performance of his entire career in this film. Christopher Walken's performance (he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) is justly famous, and although often overlooked, John Savage is every bit his equal; Meryl Streep is also memorable in one of her earliest big-screen roles. And bitter as the film is, it still speaks of honor, integrity, hope, and bonds of friendship and community that can never be broken. Deeply flawed--but a masterpiece nonetheless.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2006
The film is great. Most of you know that so I'm not going to give you a redundant synopsis of the film. However, I was very disappointed with the DVD considering I've been waiting for years for a new special edition. That wait was for nothing.
Yes, the film looks and sounds great on the Legacy Series DVD. But let's be honest, many of us buy DVDs for the special features, and since this is part of the "Legacy Series," this should please, right? Wrong.
First, don't be fooled that this thing is 2 discs. I have no idea why it should be because the second disc only has 14 minutes of deleted scenes, the original theatrical trailer (2 minutes), and 8 screens of production notes. THAT'S IT. Why couldn't they place this on the first disc? To make it seem like there was more? Probably. No documentaries, interviews, making of featurettes, nothing. There is a decent commentary on the first disc, but on the whole the DVD package is disappointing considering the original non Legacy Series version of the Deer Hunter didn't offer much either in terms of special features.
Regardless, it's hard not to own this for your film collection. It is definitely the better of the two versions out there, but don't go in expecting a lot other than the film. Disappointing package on the whole for a film that deserves so much more.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2002
The Deer Hunter is definitely among the top three Vietnam films of all time, in my opinion... However, what makes all three great is that, in reality, none of them are about war...The Deer Hunter takes place mostly outside of Vietnam and doesn't dwell there for more than a third of the film. Rather, it is merely the focal point of the film. The movie is about friendship, courage, loyalty, and pathos. The movie features a wonderful ensemble of actors, including Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale, Meryl Streep, and George Dzundza, just to name a few. The story is set in a small steel town in Pennsylvania, and De Niro and company are Russian-Americans and close friends. De Niro's character, Michael, is the leader. He is spontaneous and fun-loving, but also strict and methodical. When screw-up Stan (Cazale) forgets his boots, De Niro doesn't want to give him his extra pair. Walken portrays Nick as an intensely loyal friend, willing to risk death at Russian Roulette to escape on a plan conceived by Michael. Savage plays Steve, the married man who ends up losing his legs due to an injury in the war. The film investigates the lives of these three men, forever changed by Vietnam: one emotionally scarred, one physically scarred, one lost in a foreign land. I got choked up when Michael went to Vietnam to save Nick, but ends up playing one final game of Russian Roulette. That particular scene is the most affecting. See it and you'll understand.
In short, this film is a monumental examination of friendship, loyalty, and courage. It won the Best Picture Oscar in 1978, and will forever be a potent look at grief and sadness and joy and love. A must.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A grim look into the after-effects of the Vietnam war on three buddies from a small Pennsylvania steel town. The cast is stocked with first class actors such as Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep, and of course Robert De Niro. De Niro's character Michael gets the most screen time in the film but the true star of The Deer Hunter is Christopher Walken. This is his coming out party and he does a fantastic job as Nicky, a smart, funny, well-adjusted small town guy. The movie centers around the boys being sent off to 'nam and the ensuing horror that all of them endure. After being captured by the enemy it becomes apparent who the strongest of the group is...Michael (De Niro). It is his strength and perservence that ultimately bring the three through this trauma, but the effects are long lasting. Savage's character (the weakest) becomes paralyzed and looses both legs, he suffers both the physical and mental scars of the war. De Niro come out virtually without a scratch but the signs of mental anguish and social maladjustment are clear. Nicky goes AWOL and decides to stay in Hanoi and play big stakes Russian Roulette as now the mental beating he took in the war seems too much for him to bear. He is truly the living dead. Meryl Streep plays a woman torn between her love for a missing Nicky and a consoling Michael. As always, her work is nothing less than stellar. The last scene in Hanoi is truly chilling especially when Nicky finally remembers his hunting days with the boys and then utters his final words "one shot." A true cinematic masterpiece that wrenches at the soul. The most anti-war war film I've ever seen. Highly Recommended.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"The Deer Hunter" is a 1978 drama about the war in Vietnam. For people too young to remember, the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975 and "reunification" followed the next year.
The first film about the Vietnam War appeared in 1968 with John Wayne directing and starring in "Green Beret" which was a typical war film, often depicted as glorifying the War. But most films about the war offered a very different version and in the next decade we had a number of excellent anti-war interpretations, including Oscar winning "Coming Home" (1978), "The Boys in Company C" (1978), the musical "Hair" (1979), the Emmy winning TV movie "Friendly Fire" (1979), Oscar winning "Apocalypse Now" (1979), and "First Blood" (1982).
As much as any film from this era, "Deer Hunter" received universal acclaim. The film won 5 Oscars (Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Editing, Sound) and was nominated for 4 more (Actor, Actress, Cinematographer, Screenplay). It won 2 BAFTAs and was nominated for 7 more, one Golden Globe and 5 nominations. AFI lists it as #53 in the list of Greatest Movies of all time. FWIW - "Apocalypse Now" (1979) is #29 and "Platoon" (1986) is listed #59.
The film earned nearly $50 million making it #7 at the box office. The budget was about $15 million.
The film is distinguished by the terrific performances from Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep. De Niro was already a major star at the time ("The Godfather Part 2" and "Taxi Driver" preceded this film), but for Walken and Streep this was their first major role. Streep would earn her first of 17 Oscar nominations and Walken his first of 2.
While for some the film marked the start of a distinguished career, for John Cazale it was his last. The talented actor from "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Godfather" (1972, 1974) films died of cancer on March 12, 1978 just after filming but 9 months before it came out. Cazale has the distinction of appearing in only 5 films but all of them were nominated for Best Picture.
FWIW - Cazale and Streep were romantically involved, and she insisted he not be fired when the producers learned he was ill.
The big box office winners in 1978 were "Grease", Superman", "Animal House", "Every Which Way But Loose", and "Heaven Can Wait." The big Oscar winner was "The Deer Hunter" with 5 wins and 4 other nominations. "Coming Home" won for Best Actor (Jon Voigt) and Actress (Jane Fonda). Other notable films that year were "Midnight Express", the first "Halloween", "The Boys from Brazil", the great musical "The Last Waltz", and "An Unmarried Woman".
After all the years and all the anti-war films since, the question really is whether or not the film stands the test of time. IMHO opinion, it does. The Russian Roulette sequences still creates a pit in my stomach, and the scene in the bar, as the friends spontaneously sing "God Bless America", still brings a tear to my eye.
Bottom line - if you haven't already seen this film, please do. If you have, you'll enjoy it again. This is a timeless treasure.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I have lived a war. I wasn't in the front, no, and I never played the russian roulette. But the feelings are the same. When you struggle to keep your mind clear when all what is around you has fallen down, when you try to keep all those you love together, and when you face the loss of a friend's sanity or life, all because of war, a movie like The Deer Hunter makes an impact on you.
It is also the way this movie shows you how simple people, who just want to enjoy life and live it carelessly, enter a war. How people who have followed traditions, and have lived in a closed community, all of a sudden see themselves thrown in the middle of a chaotic world, where values and traditions make no sense.
It is also the way war affects us. It makes us grow faster, makes us treasure life...and that scene where robert de niro finds himself facing the deer in the end and thinks twice before shooting him is so moving.
I loved this movie. I have watched it several times. It is, without any doubts, for me, the best movie I can relate to.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2007
Format: HD DVDVerified Purchase
I've watched over 100 movies in HD-DVD. Some movies are marginally enhanced by HD but this isn't one of them. HD takes DH up to another level. It is easy to be consumed by this drama because it's moving story and arguably has the best ensemble cast ever put together for a movie. In HD presentation the visuals almost steal the show. This is an incredibly beautiful looking movie. I was mesmerized from the get go. The opening scenes of wide shots of the steel town and then going into the steel mill with sparks flying, gargantuan machines in motion, and molten lava frothing and flowing creates an immediate intimacy with the movie before any dialogue is spoken or actors seen. This movie is about intimacy, the struggle to find it and the struggle when you lose it. It's about the importance of intimacy in small towns life. These steel town men, all they have in life is their way of life. When that is taken away and disrupted there is a chain reaction that is felt throughout the community and it underscores the old saying, "you can't go home again". In HD all the details you didn't notice before bring you in that much closer to the characters, you become one of the group as a viewer, sharing in their joys and miseries. The wedding scenes are phenomenal. The priests vestments and the gothic interior of the russian orthodox church, the bar where they drink, the mill where they work, the little trailer house where they meet, the white caddy they pile into for their bonding rituals, hunting in the Adirondacks, HD allows you to see all the marvelous detail that exists in these scenes. The Vietnam scenes are effective but don't quite live up to the visual splendor of the steel town. This is where the actors carry the film. Walken's transformation from a happy go lucky newly wedded working class guy to damaged and disturbed veteran of war outcast is superb and the heart of the movie. DeNiro's enigmatic character is who we identify with but it's Walken who takes us on the journey. Meryl Streep is a sight to behold and carries her own in the scenes with the men. Savage and Cazale and the other supporting actors round out a great cast. None of these are throw away characters, they all contribute to the high level of intimacy that is created between the film and the viewer. Bravo!