“The Deer Hunter”, is a film that after being seen once, it will probably imprint on the mind, a nightmare forever with possible flashbacks to some. The film is the story of three Russian American steel workers from the small town of Clairton in Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh whose enrollment in the Vietnam war changed their lives and the lives of their whole small but close community forever. This anti-war film has had one of the highest impact on people’s and soldiers’ minds in detesting any war, particularly Vietnam’s that finally ended by the persuasion of American people as much as by the Vietnamese resistance.
The film’s greatness starts with a perfect script co-written and directed by Michael Cimino who was basically a new screen writer, started a few years before, but never achieved well before and after this film that was his major feature debut as a filmmaker. The film stars Robert De Niro as Michael (Mike), Christopher Walken as Nick, John Savage as Steven, John Cazale as Stan (Stosh), Meryl Streep as Linda, Nick’s girlfriend and others. The film is also significant for being the last role played by John Cazale who died shortly after this film from lung cancer. This great actor in six short years of his acting career in five great films received Academy Award nominations for all, The Godfather, The conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter.
A Nightmarish Anti-War Film:
The film opens with a real perspective scene of the small industrial town of Clairton, that is an example of many of such towns all across the United State. In this small poor community, with houses looking very basic and shack like, the residents mostly the steel factory workers after work every day gather at the local pub owns by their friend, John (George Dzunda) that is a reminder of the film “How Green was my Valley”. In fact the town that is located in a valley, despite the smoke of the factory and the hardship of the residents’ lives is green in their hearts, before the casualties of the war wither them. The Russian American residents of this small community are very close to each other like the way they were back in their original Russian village or town where they immigrated from.
The film after the introduction, starts with the wedding preparation of Steven who’s pulled out of the local bar after work, by her traditional mother with slabs to get ready for his wedding that’s on the same day. Within a Russian Orthodox wedding ceremony and party, with a large banner on the wall reading “serving God and the country with pride”, everyone is trying to forget momentarily the departure of three of them, Mike, Nick and Steven for the war in Vietnam in the next couple of days. A soldier walks into the wedding and sits at the bar and when Mike tells him that he and two of his friends are departing for Vietnam, he raises his drink and says “fuck it”. When Mike asks him how’s out there, he again responds “fuck it” with another shot of drink. In the wedding, Nick asks Linda to marry him that she agrees.
At the end of the wedding party, drunk Mike gets naked and runs after the bride and groom’s car who are leaving, outside in the cold. Nick also drunk runs after him and asks him to promise if anything happens to him in Vietnam, not to leave him behind. All drunk until the dawn and still drinking, as another farewell leave for a final deer hunting, their usual pastime. Back from hunting at night to John’s bar when he plays Chopin’s Nocturne at the piano without any words passing on, the sign of farewell is well seen in all their faces.
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