By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 15, 2012)
The Deer Hunter– Universal Blu-ray
“If anything happens…don’t leave me over there. You gotta promise me that, Mike.” 1978 was a pivotal year for American films dealing head on with the country’s deep scars (social, political and emotional) from the nightmare of the war in Vietnam; that one year alone saw the release of The Boys in Company C, Go Tell the Spartans, Coming Home, and writer-director Michael Cimino’s shattering drama.
Cimino’s sprawling 3 hour film is a character study about three blue collar buddies (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Jon Savage) hailing from a Pennsylvania steel town who enlist in the military, share a harrowing P.O.W. experience in Vietnam, and suffer through P.T.S.D. (each in their own fashion). Uniformly excellent performances from the entire cast, which includes Meryl Streep, John Cazale, Chuck Aspegren and George Dzundza. I remember the first time I saw this film in a theater. I sat all the way through the end credits, and continued sitting for at least five minutes, absolutely stunned. I literally had to “collect myself”. No film has ever affected me like that, before or since.
The film has been long overdue on Blu-ray, and Universal’s hi-def transfer showcases the exemplary Oscar-nominated cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond (the film did end up winning in five other categories, including Best Picture and Director). This Blu-ray edition is skimpy on extras, but still worth owning for fans of the film.