Close Up

4 - 16 October 2015: The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter
Michael Cimino
1978 | 182 min | Colour | Digital

The Deer Hunter was an early attempt by Hollywood to process traumatic memories of Vietnam. It is split into three parts: the calm before a group of Pennsylvania steel-workers leave for their tour of duty, the men’s harrowing spell in a POW camp where they are forced to play Russian roulette, and the return home of Michael (Robert De Niro) without his missing buddy Nicky (Christopher Walken). The film was accused of xenophobia for its depiction of the Vietnamese, while a closing rendition of "God Bless America" only inflamed left-wing dissent. But there is unexpected compassion and tenderness here, particularly in Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography, and in understated performances by De Niro, Walken, Meryl Streep and the late John Cazale.

Part of our New Hollywood season