Monday, August 17, 2009

#45 The Deer Hunter 1978

When I put this DVD into my machine and pressed play, I honestly did not know what to expect. Of course, I had heard of The Deer Hunter, but I’d never discussed in detail as I had some other films, so I didn’t know what was in store for me. And after watching it, I thought it a bit slow in places, but wonderful in general.

Robert De Niro was fantastic, as always. Though I am quite accustomed to his being outstanding, so I was most impressed with Christopher Walken’s performance. He was flawless. In the beginning, he was an innocent, kind young man. He looked like and portrayed the picture of youthful happiness and level headedness. His character’s life at the beginning of the film is on the verge of a bright future, so his eventual demise is most devastating. While fighting in Vietnam, his cheery disposition changes into a steely, silent, wiry one. The quick transition was harsh to see and reiterated the severity of the situation. John Savage was also wonderful as the Mike (DeNiro) and Nick’s (Walken) friend Steve. He was the somewhat dim-witted member of the trio and seems to be the most effected at first. He is also the first one to return to their small Pennsylvania town, however he comes back profoundly injured and retreats to a veteran’s hospital.

There were two scenes that I would consider the best of the film. One happens relatively early in the film. After Nick and Mike return from a hunting trip with friends, they all pile into the local bar and proceed in begin drinking. Then, the bar owner begins playing a somewhat melancholy tune on the piano. What was more touching was that instead of berating their friend for playing the somber tone, they sit quietly and thoughtfully listening. As the night is the eve of Nick and Mike’s leaving for war, the scene is unique and poignant.

The other scene with a particularly remember is when Nick Mike and Steve are being held captive by Vietnamese soldiers. They are below a deck. Above, the soldiers are forcing their captives to play Russian Roulette. Below, Steve is hysterical. Watching him is like watching a man crack right in front of your eyes. Mike is trying to calm him, while Nick is standing, quiet and pensive, in the corner. Although this is only the second wartime scene, it gives us a glimpse into how each man reacts to his circumstances. Mike became a protector; Steve cracked; Nick retreated into himself.

The film was amazing, albeit difficult to watch.

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