There are some films in my top 100 that wouldn’t require a long review. Actually, it’s not whether not they require a long review – there are just some films I just can’t wind nostalgic for 800 words on. The Deer Hunter is probably one of those films. I don’t think I ever want to see this film again. This is not a reflection of the film’s quality, because obviously it’s a favourite of mine. But some things just need to be experienced once for us to attain their full power. Cimino’s The Deer Hunter is one of those films.
Recently Univarn and The Mad Hatter reflected on war and the cinematic treatments of it, I mentioned this as one of my favourite war films…and it is. Treatment of war and its effects on man are not particularly new to the Academy, but The Deer Hunter is one of the smarter choices they made in terms of the genre. The film is about the Vietnam War, and chronicles the experiences of three friends. I wouldn’t mar this review with something as clumsy as a plot synopsis, because I suppose that as long as this film is, plot is not the major thing. The film is a giant advertisement for the horrors of war.
I’ve always found war as a disgusting issue and I hate to get political in speeches, so only those who know me well know my dissent on topics like war [the death penalty etc.]. However, regardless of your thoughts on war it’s difficult to watch this film without dying a little inside. It’s a film rooted in its performance, particularly those of Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. From 1974 to 1981 this man was on a roll [The Godfather II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, New York New York etc] he created character after character – all troubled, each in their own way trying to grapple with the world around them. But it is Walken’s Nick who emerges as the pivotal character in the narrative. This is not by chance, and certainly Walken’s fantastic performance plays a bit in this, but in itself the role is something of a tour-de-force. Nick is the man, more than anyone, who is completely destroyed by the war – both physically and emotionally.
Film enthusiasts, some more than others, hold this film dear because it’s one of the earlier film roles of Meryl Streep. It is actually her first Oscar nomination, and don’t blame yourself if you draw a blank as to what propelled the nomination. That being said, along with Ms. Streep the other cast members [including those less important] give good performances.
The Deer Hunter is a good film; a good and tough film.