The Deer Hunter is an expansive portrait of friendship in a Pennsylvania steel town, and of the effects of the Vietnam War. Led by the trio of Robert De Niro, John Savage and Christopher Walken (who won a supporting actor Oscar), the first hour is dominated by an engrossing Russian Orthodox wedding and reception. When the drama moves overseas it switches from anthropologically realistic documentation of a community's rituals to highly controversial and still shocking Russian Roulette scenes, symbolising the random horror of war. Unforgettable as they are, the Vietnam sequences occupy less than a third of the three-hour running time; defying movie convention The Deer Hunter is fundamentally a before-and-after ensemble character study anchored by De Niro's great performance. Although it was the first serious Hollywood feature to address the Vietnam War, the plausibility of some of the later plot developments raises awkward questions. But the film remains powerfully effective, its deliberate pace, naturalistic overlapping dialogue and unflinching seriousness marking it very much a product of the 1970s. With nine Oscar nominations and five wins, including Best Picture and Director, it's a cinematic landmark that stands the test time, almost incidentally setting Meryl Streep on the road to superstardom in her first leading role. On the DVD: The Deer Hunter: Special Edition has the film on the first disc with a serious yet amiable Region 2 exclusive discussion track between director Michael Cimino and critic SX Finnie. The picture is anamorphically enhanced at 2.35:1, and perfectly reproduces Vilmos Zsigmond's deliberately desaturated, necessarily grainy cinematography. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack clearly reveals the mono original, being largely focused on the centre speaker and while it does a good job, some of the choral music does sound harsh. Dialogue is sometimes indecipherable, but that's due to the naturalistic nature of the original sound recording and mixing. Disc 2 offers excellent new interviews with Jon Savage (15 mins), Vilmos Zsigmond (15 mins) and Michael Cimino (23 mins). Also included is the original trailer (anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1), a routine photo gallery and a DVD version of the original press brochure. There's no trace of the 40 minutes of deleted material referred to by Cimino, but this presentation is still an object lesson in how quality of extras triumphs over quantity. --Gary S Dalkin
Michael Cimino's epic masterpiece The Deer Hunter has been stunningly restored with a brand new 4k restoration. Winner of no less than five Academy AwardsÂ® in 1978 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter is widely acknowledged as one of cinema's great masterpieces and contains some of the most memorable scenes in film history. With the film painting a sobering portrait of a small Pennsylvania steel town rocked by loss when three of its sons go off to fight in Vietnam, Cimino's ambitious and daring vision is showcased in this bold and brilliant war classic that, 40 years on, is even more striking than ever before. When Michael (Robert De Niro), Steven (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are captured by the Vietcong, they are forced to play Russian Roulette by their brutal captors, who make bets on their survival. The experience of capture leaves them with terrible physical and spiritual wounds, and when Michael returns to Saigon to fulfil an old promise to one of his friends, he makes an unexpected, horrific discovery. Also featuring astonishing performances from Meryl Streep as the woman both Michael and Nick fall in love with, and John Cazale (The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon) as their unhinged and insecure friend Stan. For the restoration of The Deer Hunter, STUDIOCANAL went back to the original 35mm negative, which was scanned at 4K resolution in 16bit. The restoration was completed at Silver Salt in London, who created a restored 4K DCP and UHD version for the home entertainment release. Bonus material includes: New Interview with David Thomson - film critic A brand new and exclusive interview with author and film critic David Thomson 1979 ITV South Ban Show interview with Michael Cimino A rarely seen ITV South Bank Show Interview from 1979 with director Michael Cimino provides an in-depth analysis of his inspirations and motivations for the making of the film Realising The Deer Hunter - Interview with director Michael Cimino Shooting The Deer Hunter - Interview with director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond Playing The Deer Hunter - Interview with star John Savage Audio Commentary with Michael Cimino Audio Commentary with Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher Deleted and Extended scenes Deleted and extended scenes from the original production including extra footage of the infamous Russian Roulette sequence.
Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, The Deer Hunter is simultaneously an audacious directorial conceit and one of the greatest films ever made about friendship and the personal impact of war. Like Apocalypse Now, it's hardly a conventional battle film--the soldier's experience was handled with greater authenticity in Platoon--but its depiction of war on an intimate scale packs a devastatingly dramatic punch. Director Michael Cimino may be manipulating our emotions with masterful skill, but he does it in a way that stirs the soul and pinches our collective nerves with graphic, high-intensity scenes of men under life-threatening duress. 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. To the viewer, they become unforgettably intense rites of passage for the best friends--Pennsylvania steelworkers played by Robert De Niro, John Savage and Oscar winner Christopher Walken--who may survive or perish during their tour through a tropical landscape of hell. Back home, their loved ones must cope with the war's domestic impact, and in doing so they allow The Deer Hunter to achieve a rare combination of epic storytelling and intimate, heart-rending drama.--Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.
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