Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Deer Hunter

I finally saw The Deer Hunter. I don't really know what I expected, but it wasn't this.

Most of what I heard is about the young cast that has become so famous (primarily Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, and Robert DeNiro). 

For starters - the film is long...why must so many "classics" clock in at well over an hour (this film 3 hours, 2 minutes - in my book films get extra points in they can tell an incredible story at the 1 hour 45 minute mark). 
But apart from the length, the way the film plays out, ends up being primarily three acts - at home pre-Vietnam war, at war, and back at home. In the name of character development and film message, the first act is surprisingly long dealing with a group of men/boys celebrate together as one friend is getting married on the eve of being deployed to Vietnam. The scene's are long character development scenes - basically showing that these are immature fun loving guys in a small time. There's a hunt/road trip scenes, a wedding scene and bar scenes. I found these scenes a little long, but enjoyable namely because of the all-star cast performing in these youthful roles.

Yet what really tips this film into intense land happens when they ship off the Vietnam. These scenes are heavy and gritty. The scenes themselves are nothing like American Beauty, but the film gives me the same feeling I had watching that film -- kind of an overwhelming sense of desperation and sadness that comes from such a gritty portrayal of human kind.

As the film plays out through this second act, it's just generally heavy and overwhelming. The third act is a mixed bag of heaviness and resolution of story lines. 

I think my end feeling watching this film is still admiration for the young celebrity cast. Also, the film obviously has powerful scenes, especially in the ways I can see how this film colors later portrayals of the Vietnam war. 

Yet, when all is said and done my struggle with this film comes back to the construction of the film that makes it so long, with a relatively non-complex story and moderately sized cast. This doesn't make it a bad film, but one that's a little harder for me to get excited about.

This film is another recommendation in response to my unwatched iMDB.com top 250 film list. This recommendation came from both @jdreed and recommendation of General125. Must admit, glad to cross this film off the list - it's been on my watch list for too long.

1 comment:

general125 said...

I've only seen it once and I only watched it to mark it off of my AFI 100 list. It is about an hour too long. The scenes I remember the most are Robert DeNiro not being able to shoot that buck and Christopher Walken paying Russian Roulette. The latter being parodied too many times to not know the source material.
You need to be in the right mood to watch this movie.

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