The Deer Hunter

December 9, 2015 - This disturbing film from the post-Vietnam era earned five Academy Awards in 1979, including Best Picture, and several more nominations. Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep received Oscar nods for their roles, and Christopher Walken won as Best Supporting Actor. Michael Cimino helped write the screenplay and took home the Oscar as Best Director.

The three-hour, R-rated film follows three steelworkers from western Pennsylvania as they leave their normal lives behind and head to Vietnam. Michael (De Niro) is the leader of the group. Nick (Walken) is sweet on Linda (Streep), and Steve (John Savage) marries his pregnant girlfriend before leaving. The first hour shows us the friends spending their last few days at home, drinking and hunting deer. Michael's philosophy is kill the deer with one shot or let it go.

The second hour shows the hell and confusion that was the war in Vietnam. Michael, Nick and Steve all come to be held prisoner at the same place. Their captors force them to play a game of Russian roulette or be thrown into a pool of water containing rats and the bodies of men who lost the game. Michael and Nick eventually shoot their way out and take a weak and fragile Steven with them.

The rest of the film deals with what happens to the three men after that dramatic escape. Their lives will never be the same, and neither will the lives of the people they left behind.

Overall review: **** To go back to my original description, I think "disturbing" is the word that best describes this movie. Not only are the scenes in Vietnam intense, but so are the scenes back home. Everyone ends up scarred in one way or another.