The Deer Hunter (1978)


Drama | War


Michael Cimino




Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale, Meryl Streep, George Dzundza, Shirley Stoler, Chuck Aspegren, Rutanya Alda, Amy Wright, Joe Grifasi


Michael (Robert De Niro), Steven (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are young factory workers from Pennsylvania who enlist into the Army to fight in Vietnam. After some time and many horrors, the three friends fall in the hands of the Vietcong and are brought to a prison camp in which they are forced to play Russian roulette against each other. Michael makes it possible for them to escape, but they soon get separated again.


Ranked by many, actually almost every single person who saw it, as a masterpiece, The Deer Hunter is one of the most overrated films ever, and one of the worst Academy Award Best Picture winners ever.

The film is boring, senseless and historically inaccurate. To begin with, it's too long - 3 hours seemed like an eternity. The wedding sequence at the beginning goes on and on - 30 minutes or so - but doesn't tell you more about the characters than a 10 minutes sequence could have. Then the action goes straight to Vietnamese jungle: the three friends don't need any kind of training, they just go, and they serve in the same squad too. The Vietnamese are portrayed as monsters or victims, there are no shadings. When Michael and Steven are back home, Nick is still in Vietnam and plays the Russian roulette for god only knows how many years - if it was a sport he would have been the World Champion. 

The acting is good. Robert De Niro is spectacular and should have gotten the Oscar instead of Christopher Walken - I am not saying Walken sucks in the film, he delivers a good performance, but, in my opinion, De Niro's better. Meryl Streep and John Savage are a great supporting cast.

Do you want to see a film about the Vietnam War? Watch Apocalypse Now or/and Full Metal Jacket, they are definitely worth the time.


Michael: A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don't listen.


  1. Interesting take. I am one of those who thinls it's a marvelous film, but I can definitely see why it would bore some. I will agree that Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now are better, though.

  2. I actually agree with you here, a film very much of its time with its arguably racist depiction of the Vietnamese.

    1. And all Americans are pictured as victims despite they were the invaders