Isn´t it weird sometimes what we remember about certain movies? I don´t know when it was, but I think it must have been a very long time ago, that I watched The Deer Hunter for the first time. Looking back the only thing I did remember was the Russian roulette scene and the cage that was submersed in water. I didn’t remember any combat scenes and nothing that went on before they volunteered or after they returned from the war. What actually happened is that my memory turned The Deer Hunter into a pure POW movie.
I finally watched it again and was surprised. I saw a totally new movie. Powerful is the best word to describe it, even though this does it little justice. Sure, what I remembered was still there but it shrank considerably and took up less than a tenth of the whole movie. Strange I think, because since I have seen it again I must say, yes, the roulette scene, the whole POW part is maybe the most impressive but it is not the most important. And it is totally fictious. It is as if Michael Cimino had chosen to show the war in this way because he thought facts would not be drastic enough. Looking at all the other Vietnam war movies that have been done since I must say that especially because of these scenes The Deer Hunter is not the best Vietnam war movie there is but it is one of the more original ones. And it is an extraordinarily good movie about a certain type of people and how they were affected by the war.
What I will remember from now on is young men who live in a grim industrial town. They are second generation Russian immigrants who are enthusiastic and idealistic and want to fight for their country not knowing what they get themselves into. A bunch of friends for whom life only just begun and whose dreams will be shattered for ever. Who return having left the easy-going, careless “Deer Hunter”-personality behind. They are completely changed and broken and we ask ourselves at the end : is there still enough left of them to begin a new life?
It is not my favourite Vietnam movie but it ranks high up among the 10 best as I stated before (see my list 10 Vietnam War Movies You Must See Before You Die ).
What about you? Which is the part you like best about The Deer Hunter. Would it have been possible to leave the roulette part out altogether? How high would you rank it within the 10 best Vietnam war movies and how high within the best including every war/subgenre?