Monday, January 18, 2010

The Deer Hunter (1978)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In 1967, three steelworker friends in Clairton, Pennsylvania, who like to hunt deer every fall season, are sent over to fight in the Vietnam War. All three men are captured and put into a prisoner of war camp. The sadistic captors force them to play a deadly game of Russian roulette and bet on the outcome. Nick (Christopher Walken) is rescued by a crowded helicopter, but Mike (Robert De Niro) and Steven (John Savage) are left behind.

It is loosely based on the 1937 novel by German author Erich Remarque. He was a veteran in World War I and also wrote "All Quiet on the Western Front". The film won five Academy Awards. The movie was shot in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Washington state, and Thailand. At the Berlin International Film Festival in 1979 the delegation from the Soviet Union protested the film because it did not give a positive portrayal of the Vietnamese. Walken only ate rice and bananas to look ill in the final act.

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