The Deer Hunter
More About The Deer Hunter
This epic look at the Vietnam War and its effects told through the lives of a tight knit group of friends from a Pennsylvania town was Michael Cimino's second film and established him in the pantheon of American directors. Complex and emotionally raw performances from Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep earned each an Academy Award nomination, and Christopher Walken's portrayal of Nick, who survives capture but is unable to escape its trauma, is a tour de force that earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. With a keen eye for nuance and a carefully structured script, Cimino interweaves the rituals great and small that make up the lives of his characters, creating a poignant sense of what remained constant and what was forever changed by their experience of the war.
1978 - Academy Awards - Best Picture Winner
1978 - Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actor Winner
1978 - Academy Awards - Best Director Winner
1978 - Academy Awards - Best Film Editing Winner
1978 - Academy Awards - Best Sound Winner
Main Cast & Crew
Michael Cimino - Director
Robert De Niro
An epic three-hour tale of lives forever changed by the Vietnam War, THE DEER HUNTER follows the transformation of a tight group of friends from a working-class town, taking its place alongside such classics as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT in telling a story of war and disillusionment. On the eve of going to war, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken), and Steven (John Savage) gather for Steven's wedding. Leaving Steven to his wedding night, Mike, Nick, and pals Axel (Chuck Aspergren), Stan (John Cazale), and John (George Dzundza) depart for the mountains and one last hunting trip. The hunting trip is a funny, poignant scene that firmly establishes the characters as they set off for Vietnam immediately after the trip. The scenes in Vietnam, especially the Russian roulette game, are among the most brutal war scenes on film. The characters' eventual return to the States is emotional and gut-wrenching. Michael Cimino's award-winning film is a powerful look at friendship and love in the midst of war.
Theatrical Release: December 12, 1978. In addition to an Oscar for Best Director, Michael Cimino won the Best Director Award from the Directors Guild (DGA) for THE DEER HUNTER. Film debut and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep. Other awards: 1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director; 1978 New York Film Critics Award for Best Film and Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken). The screenplay for THE DEER HUNTER was nominated for an Academy Award and a Writers Guild (WGA) Screen Award. THE DEER HUNTER is number 79 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies. THE DEER HUNTER was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1996. THE DEER HUNTER was actor John Cazale's last screen appearance; he was already seriously ill with cancer when he accepted the role, and he died shortly before the film's release. Streep and Cazale were romantically involved during the filming of the movie.
"...The film remains intense, powerful and fascinating for more than three hours....The acting, throughout, is outstanding. Walken's performance is a marvel..." - 11/29/1978 Variety
"...A big, awkward, crazily ambitious, sometimes breathtaking motion picture that comes as close to being a popular epic as any movie about this country since THE GODFATHER....[Streep] gives a smashing film performance..." - 12/15/1978 New York Times, p.C5
Included in the New York Times's "10 BEST FILMS OF 1978" - 12/31/1978 New York Times, p.II:1
"Hell is war in Michael Cimino's decade-defining classic..." - 12/01/2003 Total Film, p.116
5 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n unforgettable study of friendship, pre-, during and post Vietnam." - 12/01/2006 Ultimate DVD, p.209
5 stars out of 5 -- "Cimino's is a political film that makes its points through the trials of its characters..." - 01/01/2007 Uncut, p.147
"Cimino's sprawling Vietnam drama is an intimate epic, favouring the personal over the political....This is an ensemble cast par excellence." - 02/01/2007 Sight and Sound, p.81
5 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's an American tragedy indebted to Russian literature, alive with detail and ritual and embedding viewers in the souls of men, the heart of a community and the spilled guts of a nation." - 07/28/2014 Total Film
"[A]n American classic in three....Brilliant work by Robert De Niro, John Savage, Meryl Streep and best supporting actor winner Christopher Walken." - 05/22/2020 Chicago Sun-Times