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Buy the DVD The Deer Hunter

(Dir: Michael Cimino)

Reviewed by: Stuart Evans - Conflict Scripts

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‘The Deer Hunter' is an epic tale about a group of steelworkers thrown into the midst of war. Award winning director Michael Cimino delivers this masterpiece with authenticity and a reluctance to hold back on the horrors of Vietnam and the repercussions thrust upon the men who took part.

Michael (Robert De Niro) and Nick (Christopher Walken) attend their good friend Steven's ‘shotgun' wedding, in his bid to make an honest woman of his pregnant bride Angela, on the eve of their departure to Vietnam. Whilst Steven (John Savage) indulges on the fruits of his first night as husband, his pals, along with Stan (John Cazale), John (George Dzundza) and Axel (Chuck Aspegren), go off into the Pennsylvanian mountains for their last hunting trip before the war. The thrill of taking out deer through the sites on their rifles boosts the thrill of combat for this close knit group of friends.

Cut to Vietnam and possibly the most violent and brutal scenes ever to be shot on film. Michael and Nick now captured and in the hands of Vietnamese soldiers are forced to play a game of Russian roulette. These scenes are both hostile and emotional and are without doubt the focal point of De Niro's Oscar nomination and Walken's Best Supporting Actor award. Michael's inner strength now comes to the fore as his reluctance to suffer the mental torture of his friends surfaces.

On their return to America, and a now alien-like community, the life they once led and the unity between each other have all but diminished prompting Michael to pursue Linda (Meryl Streep) once Nick's girlfriend. Cimino's ability to deliver both poignant and believable characters forces you to sub-consciously absorb them creating moments of gut wrenching emotion as the picture reaches its conclusion.

Accompanied by an outstanding score, including the beautiful piece ‘Cavatina', and its mesmerising screenplay nominated for both Academy Award and Writer's Guild Screen Award, ‘The Deer Hunter' manages to show what war can do not only to its participants but also to the people they leave behind.

Stuart Evans

Copyright © Conflict Scripts 2004

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