The Deer Hunter (1978)
IMDB Rating 8.2/10 182 min - Rated 18 War | Drama
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken Director: Michael Cimino
The film explores the experiences shared by a group of young men growing up in a small Pennsylvania industrial town, whose lives are dominated by the gruelling labour in the steel mills. Mike (De Niro), Nick (Walken), and Stevie (Savage) are just about to depart for military training, having volunteered to go to Vietnam together. Stevie gets married before he leaves, and Mike and Nick go on a hunting trip. They are then thrown into the hell of war, which affects their lives forever. Stevie ends up in a wheelchair, Nick who survives capture is traumatized by the experience, and Mike learns the dangers of the macho code he lived by. This was the first major American movie about the Vietnam War, and one of the most controversial. The controversy derived from the harrowing sequence in which American POWs are forced to play Russian roulette by their captors. Although Russian-roulette gambling games were not a common occurrence during the Vietnam War, they're used here as a metaphor for the futility of the war itself. Also to be taken metaphorically is the untriumphal singing of 'God Bless America' at the end. The film's principal theme of friendship and the personal impact of war, packs a devastating dramatic punch and exactly caught the mood of the time. The set-pieces such as the wedding (almost a production number) and the hunt are epically conceived. Michael Cimino's second film was also his last success.