Blind Spot Series: The Deer Hunter


The movie Gods must be on my side, because right after I posted my list for Ryan McNeil's 2014 Blind Spot Series, the Sundance channel aired The Deer Hunter. How convenient.

What I knew going in: 1) The fate of Christopher Walken's character. I didn't know when or where, but I knew it happened. 2) That Russian Roulette is the big theme.

The Deer Hunter follows 3 men, Michael, (Robert DeNiro) Steve (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) who are about to leave for a tour in Vietnam. We spend the first hour of the film together getting to know these men and seeing Steve's wedding to Angela. (Rutanya Alda) We also meet various other people. Nick's girlfriend Linda, (Meryl Streep) whom Michael also seems to have feelings for. There's also their other friends/hunting buddies Stan and John (John Cazale, who was dying of cancer while filming this, so his frail frame was very upsetting and George Dzundza) The 2nd hour of the film has them being captured in Vietnam and forced to play Russian Roulette, and their eventual escape. The 3rd hour is the aftermath.

Yes, I divided this film into thirds, much like I did with The Place Beyond The Pines and 2005's King Kong. They all felt distinctly different. The first hour, while I felt was necessary to get to know these characters was too long. I think they could've condensed it a little more. The wedding scene alone clocks in over a half an hour. At the same time, I enjoyed watching these guys dance and have fun knowing what they were in for. So I really can't tell you what exactly it is that I would cut out.

The performances are fascinating, especially Walken. I could not take my eyes off of him. DeNiro is tasked with carrying the weight of the film, but it's Walken who I wanted to see. The score is nearly as intense as the film itself. And that finale scene? So, so heartbreaking. In fact, I was so into this film at one point, that a commercial for The Lost Boys played immediately after, and it took me a few seconds to realize that I wasn't watching the same movie. I was really in the zone, apparently.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Just promise me you won't leave me behind there." - Nick (Christopher Walken)

19 comments:

  1. Great review for a very good film! I really like this movie, despite the backlash it has received over the years. De Niro is particularly strong (imho) and is the reason to see the film. He anchors it with such intense honesty. I can't wait to see where you go next month!

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, the run time freaked me out at first because Sundance had it listed over four hours (commercials) and even though it dragged a bit, I still really enjoyed it.

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  2. When I watched the deer hunter about five years ago, I had absolutely no clue what it was about outside of the Vietnam War. This movie is so intense that I can't think of a movie in recent years that has had such an overwhelming emotional impact like you described. Glad you got to see it! It's a necessary viewing for sure.

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    1. It certainly is intense. I'm kind of ashamed I waited so long to see it.

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  3. Great review! I love the whole Blind Spot series idea, really interesting and this has made me really want to watch The Deer Hunter :)

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    1. Are you doing the Blind Spot series too?

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    2. I'm not but I would love to start it!

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    3. @ Caitlin... Join us! Join us! Lots of time to choose twelve films and start watching/writing

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  4. I'm doing an Auteurs piece on Michael Cimino this coming July as it's my 2nd favorite film of his that he's done w/ Thunderbolt & Lightfoot is his best. This is a flawed film but certainly an engaging one about three men going into a war thinking they'll be war heroes like those before them only to come home changed and disillusioned. John Cazale was my favorite thing in that film as his performance is just beautiful to watch and it's sad that it was his final role. Yet, the five films he's been in showcase what a great actor he is.

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    1. That will be an interesting read! John Cazale just makes me so sad seeing him that way.

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  5. Great review! I haven't heard of the movie before, but it sounds interesting. Might have to give it a go someday.

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  6. Awesome review, Brittani! As with most essential films, I haven't seen this, but I will, one day... :D

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    1. Well, at least I'm not the only one that's late to the party on this!

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  7. Great review! The performances and the atmosphere of this film are terrific. It took additional viewings for me to warm up to it, but I love it now. :)

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    1. It is, and there's just something so fascinating about Christopher Walken.

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  8. How crazy is that wedding scene? It's like he watched The Godfather's wedding scene and thought "Too slight".

    It's sorta crazy the way this is a war film that's not really a war film, eh? Less interested in the conflict at hand than it is on the way that conflict affects the people involved. At the same time, you can see a few of the seeds of over-indulgence being sown, right? The work of a man who wants to do what he does and have a studio pick up the tab, logic-be-damned...

    It's been way too long since I've watched this. Great post on a great choice to start the series!

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    1. Well said! Thanks! I'm looking forward to crossing more of these off my list.

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