The Deer Hunter (1978)

“Summer of Film #26 of 100”:
The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Savage and John Cazale, uses “Russian roulete”: as an allegory for the war in Vietnam. While this is an engaging and harrowing ploy that makes for an engrossing second act, the crutches that it rests on- i.e. act one and three- do not provide adequate support. We do not know the characters well enough and when we do, their actions contradict what we would expect them to do. Considering the fact that it is a 3 hour film, this is a significant inadequacy.

The story involves a group of friends who are shipped off the Vietnam a few days after one of them gets married. Vietnam exposes them to things that change the dynamics among them and with their homes. In a sense, they feel like they can never go back home.

Having said that, there are moments in the film that shine through and will haunt me for the rest of my days. The closing scene is one of the most oddly patriotic yet simultaneously haunting I have seen.


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