The Deer Hunter (1978) Review

An in-depth examination of the way that the Vietnam war affects the lives of people in a small industrial town in the USA. We see how friendships are tested and lives which need to be rebuilt and of course Russian Roulette . . .

Michael (De Niro), Steven (Savage) and Nick (Walken) enlist in the army and are due to leave not long after Steven’s wedding to Angela who is pregnant with his child. We see them all having such a good time at the wedding with their other friends Stan (Cazale) and John (Dzundza). Knowing that the three younger men are due to leave for the Vietnam war not long after the happy scenes is playing in the back of our mind. This makes it rather difficult to watch, as we know it is going to take a turn for the worst and not be a good time for them anymore.

I found myself being slightly confused about who Linda (Streep) was with at the start of the film. As it appeared that she was with Nick, but also had a couple of conversations and dances with Michael. Which made me wonder if she had something going on with both of them.

We are taken on such an emotional journey as we see the three men being captured and forced to play Russian Roulette against each other. Incredibly difficult scenes to watch as we must see the pain and fear caused by not knowing if they are going to get the bullet or not. Michael does come up with a plan to help them escape, but they become separated and we must wait to see if they will ever see each other again.

When Michael returns home we see how much he begins to struggle being back in the very enclosed environment and he does not want any fuss made over him. He even goes past the house on his return when he realises his friends are all there. He struggled to come to terms with it all and did not want to see everyone all together.

It was my first viewing of the film (yes I know it took way too long to watch this) and it really did live up to the high expectations I had for it after all of the positive talk around it. I think the performances from De Niro and Walken really did make this film incredible. The way they had the chemistry for their friendship was brilliant, and without that one of the final scenes would not have had the same impact.

Truly a moving film from start to finish, showing us how important friendship can be and how much impact war has on the lives of the people who are affected by it.

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