[1978] The Deer Hunter


TMS Founder

The Deer Hunter

Ratings and links

IMDB 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes 86/100

Information and details

Genre: Drama, War
Runtime: 3h3m

Director: Michael Cimino
Notable cast members: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, Meryl Streep

Plot summary: An in-depth examination of the ways in which the Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of several friends in a small steel mill town in Pennsylvania.


Warning! Proceed with caution. You WILL read spoilers below.

Only proceed if you've seen the movie.
My review

On my watchlist since forever. Had to watch the 3+ hours in 2 shifts unfortunately (time is rare when you have a toddler in the house).

Let's start off with the story. I loved it. I felt like I was actually working in the steel factory, taking beers with the guys, going up hunting in the mountains. There's a lot of negativity about the length of the first act (the wedding scene in particular) but I felt it did a fantastic job establishing the characters and the life before the war. The second act of the movie turns dark almost immediately. The torture scenes in the jungle were some of the most horrific scenes I've ever seen. Their escape out of there was genius. "One Shot" still sends shivers down my spine. The ending apparently a lot of controversy about the song choice, I for one actually thought it was a good choice, it's them reflecting back to the gruel events that tore the group apart. I do agree however that the spontaneous singing was an odd choice.

I believe the message of the movie is pretty clear, it shows how "tempting" the Vietnam War looks, but then you see three friends have their life completely ruined by that same war they were (almost) looking forward to. It also deals with other thing war causes: depression and addiction in particular.

The acting was out-of-this-world. Not surprising with a cast like that. Walken and De Niro were perfect. The scene in the hospital were Walken breaks down, the tenseness in the jungle,... All bloody perfect. I was also surprised to see Meryl Streep, I've never watched a movie were she looked young.


The movie quality itself could have been better. I watched the 4K Dolby Vision version and while sometimes the picture looked amazing (the hunting scenes in particular!), sometimes it looked really grainy and way too red. Not an odd thing with films from that era, but it did bother me from time to time.


Disclaimer: Had to turn up the brightness because Dolby Vision looks extremely dark on screens that do not support it.






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