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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Deer Hunter (1978)



Reviews and Comments

The Deer Hunter is a good but uneven movie about friendship. The first hour is absolutely horrible; the second, chronicling the story of three of the friends in Vietnam, is brilliant. The third hour, which deals with their return and the impact the war has had on them, is mixed.

The reason I liked individual pieces of the movie but not the whole is probably one of cynicism. I think there is truth to the picture the movie is trying to paint, but it lies by omission. This is an anti-war film, which shows how soldiers in war are irrevocably damaged by the experience. But the changes to the characters happen too quickly, and the scope of the film is too limited. A better film would have, just for starters, chopped the first hour down to twenty minutes, given the extra time to portraying the gradual evolution of the characters as a result of the war.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a better Best Picture Academy Award winner about returning veterans. It is intelligent enough to understand the purpose of war even in light of its horrors. Then again, The Best Years of Our Lives concerns World War II, a war with much more purpose than the Vietnam War had, so maybe the differing views of the two films are about right after all.