Along with Tourette’s Guy and Randall Dale Adams, Michael Cimino is my spirit animal.
And The Deer Hunter is Cimino’s finest hour. Nay…the finest hour in film history.
I always love it when filmmakers buck tradition. Now I love James Bond as much as the next guy. But honestly, I’m glad they killed Bond in the latest movie. I hope they do it in every Bond movie going forward. Don’t give the audience what they want. Give them what YOU want.
And The Deer Hunter does that.
So why does no one mention it as one of the great classics of 70s cinema…up there with The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Apocalypse Now?
Michael Cimino probably has something to do with that. His notorious flop Heaven’s Gate ruined his reputation forever. But as I mentioned, Cimino doesn’t give the audience a rewarding cinematic experience.
There’s a wedding scene that takes 9 hours for fuck’s sake.
But I’ve said this once and I’ll say it a thousand times: The Deer Hunter is not a film. It’s a fever dream.
You know…you’ve had those dreams that were so powerful that you feel forever changed when you awake. But you can’t explain it to others.
So you don’t talk about it again.
That’s the Deer Hunter.
That’s why it sort of gets lost in the shuffle when the subject of greatest movies ever made is discussed. You can’t explain it.
What’s it about?
It’s about coming back from Vietnam.
But is that what it’s really about?
I suppose it’s subject is of family, of friendship…of surviving…and it’s all loosely held together by a plot of three friends going to Vietnam, getting separated, then coming home.
When the the Deer Hunter is brought up, it’s usually in reference to the Russian Roulette scene. And that is a DAMN GOOD scene, perhaps the most tense in all of film. But the ending is perfect.
Is it meant to be sarcastic? Hopeful? Pessimistic?
It all ends ambiguously and unresolved.
Much like a dream.
Michael Cimino might have been a one hit wonder, but damn…