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The Deer Hunter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

(spoiler-free movie review)


An emotionally impactful movie with powerhouse performances and superb directing. Director Michael Cimino lovingly crafted a three-hour masterpiece that is amongst the most engrossing dramas ever captured on film. The Deer Hunter received a limited release in 1978 in an attempt to secure Oscar nominations, an effort that paid off as it would go on to secure 27 nominations and 5 wins, including best picture.

– Robert De Niro as the titular Deer Hunter.

While it’s true that The Deer Hunter can be classified as a war drama, the film is less about war and more about the impact that it has on a small town. The first act of the movie is dedicated to establishing this town and the people who live within it. From the loud and scorching hellscape of a steel plant (beautifully captured by Cimino) to the raucous local watering hole or the grand church cathedral, the town is as much of a character as the cast.

Speaking of cast, its full of tour deforce actors from Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale and John Savage. De Niro as Michael is intense, full of external stoicism and internal conflict. Walken, as Nick, gives an Oscar winning performance punctuated with moments so emotionally devastating that they transcend the screen, creating an overwhelming emotional response in the viewer.

“…the film is less about war and more about the impact that it has on a small town.”

The second act of the film transports the viewer to Vietnam, revealing the horrors of war. The pacing is relentless and the images on display are devastating, a stark contrast from the celebration seen just a few moments prior. The iconic Russian Roulette sequence is amongst the most suspenseful and visceral film sequences I’ve ever seen.

– The famous Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter.

Upon returning home from War De Niro’s character (Michael) is a changed man. He’s not alone in this transformation as the town (and the townspeople) have also changed. The consequences of war can be seen everywhere and Cimino does an excellent job of showcasing these harsh realities without an agenda. This movie is not about right or wrong, it’s about the realities of a shared experience through multiple lenses.

“…it’s about the realities of a shared experience through multiple lenses.”

The Deer Hunter is an important film and one worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

coe33 (social links below)


  • Media Format: Shout Select 4K Blu-ray Collector’s Edition
  • Setup: Vizio 70″ 4K V-Series(V705-H) Television, JBL 9.1 Doby Atmos Soundbar with Subwoofer, Sony UPB-X700 UHD Blu-ray Player
  • Question: Which movie best captures the Vietnam war? Cast your vote on the poll below!

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