Let me begin here by saying that Iï¿½ve never found any film based on the Vietnam War good. I assume this stems from that everything Iï¿½ve ever known or been taught about the War shows that (I apologize in advance for those who get offended) the War was not necessary (this said by my Uncle who fought in the War). Every Vietnam film Iï¿½ve tried to enjoy from Born on the Fourth of July to Platoon I just couldnï¿½t as this little reminder always poked in the back of my mind. I should honestly scratch that last sentence as Iï¿½ve found the first Vietnam film that I absolutely found excellent.
I suppose the best way to describe a film like Deer Hunter, even though its predominately towered by the power of the events of the Vietnam War, is a film that takes place over three sections. The first section involves a wedding ceremony attended by honest hard-working fellows who want nothing but their great life to continue. Then we are met with the middle section, which is definitely the most powerful section as it takes anything Iï¿½ve known about the Vietnam War (intense horror) and basically showcases it on the screen in front of me.
This pivotal section focuses on the tale of three friends Michael, Nick and Steven (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage) and the major experiences they all experienced during the War. This sequence, rightfully quoted numerous times in review after review, is a scene of horror and blood. These three friends are taken captive and forced to play a game of Russian roulette. Not a simple card game my friends but rather a game with weapons only each loser dies. This simple game of Russian roulette tends to make a powerful statement as it shows what soldiers went through and, more importantly I might add, proves my aforementioned point of how unnecessary this war was for all involved.
The strength of the film is not necessarily the story it tells but how the story is told. Weï¿½ve all (especially in this day and age) heard about the horrors of every war ever fought. It wonï¿½t be a surprise to know that Michael (De Niro) survives the war and makes it back home. I found a sequence where Michael returns home to cheers and hugs from everyone around. Here Michael is at a loss for words never quite knowing how to describe what he went through and saw. One must think that not every part of The Deer Hunter is negative as Michael gets the girl in the end named Linda (Meryl Streep). But even knowing that he got the dream girl canï¿½t ail the problems Michael is having physically and mentally. This is what ultimately leads him back to Vietnam in search for Nick.
In all honest, and partial shame, I hadnï¿½t known what this film was about before receiving this copy for review. Sure I can simply blame my young age of 21, but Iï¿½ve decided Iï¿½d rather blame my lack of wanting to see ANOTHER Vietnam film after seeing so many uninspiring Vietnam films. Deer Hunter re-assured my faith that a film about Vietnam can be powerful and great at the same time.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Deer Hunter, for a film that is nearly 30 years old looked great.
The filmï¿½s print has been fully restored giving the print a rather sharp look. Color usage was fantastic with bright blacks and whites with modest blues and greens. Detail was also impressive (take a look at the interiors on of the church during the wedding ceremony). There is a bit of noise and grain in some of the Vietnam sequences, but I never found it over-barring. Also around the 30-31 minute mark I did notice a scratch on the print, but that is myself being nitpicky. Sure Deer Hunter doesnï¿½t have that 3-D image quality that newer films boast, but it doesnï¿½t really need to as the true image power is not visually but rather mentally.
Arriving with the standard fare of Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English, Deer Hunter boasts some sequences of greatness but is marred but a largely un-responsive track.
Dialogue, perhaps the best part here, dominates the center channel. The unfortunate part is that sometimes the dialogue becomes muddled making it hard to understand. This requires the viewer to play with the volume button. Surround usage is kept to a bare minimum only becoming a tad bit responsive during the second act initial explosion. Dynamic Range is also kept down minus a few helicopter blades and screams (again during the explosion sequence). Certainly not as good as the video, Deer Hunterï¿½s did what it could. It sounds fine if you donï¿½t expect much.
- Audio Commentary with Cinematographer Vilmose Zsigmond and Film Journalist Bob Fisher: Where is Director Michael Cimino when you need him. For a film that was so powerful I expected a bit more out of the commentary here. Instead both participants are dull and never seem to have much to say minus a few words here and there. A funny note is that Zsigmond and Cimino where disappointed with how ï¿½goodï¿½ the transfer was restored.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Most of the scenes here focus on the Russian roulette sequence never really adding much to the presentation. Another big disappointment.
- Trailer: The filmï¿½s Theatrical Trailer is shown here. No 1080p glory here but rather a scratched up oldie.
Had it not been for the power of the film and the fine video, this package would be one of the first all around stinkers from Universal. The lackluster audio and disappointing features, I hope, isnï¿½t a sign of how Universal will treat their older catalogue films. Still based on the power of the film, everyone should give this one a rental at least.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Cinematographer Vilmose Zsigmond and Film Journalist Bob Fisher
- Deleted and Extended Scenes