The Deer Hunter, 1978.
Last week I watched The Deer Hunter again and it left me in a puddle of tears.
When I first watched it as a kid, it was a heavily edited version on network TV. I thought DeNiro and the Russian Roulette scenes were badass.
Now that I’m old, excluding the Vietnam baggage (two of my Uncles served and had harrowing experiences in country with the Army and Marines and in their lives afterwards), it’s just so poignantly melancholy, tragic, and controversial.
This last scene, just after Nick’s funeral just kills. The acting is impecable, subtle, and real. And like a lot of parts of the movie, the scene was/is very controversial. Studio execs hated it for being anti-American when it was first screened.
I’m not patriotic. I’m not religious. And I really dislike the song (it’s borderline fascist and prompted Woody Guthrie to write the superior “This Land Is Your Land”…but that’s a different post). For me, this last scene perfectly captures the characters’ grief for Nick, their patriotism, their innocence lost, their perseverance, and their sad resignation for what their life has in store for them.
Michael Cimino’s one, great movie won five Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.