Boy, Robert de Niro once had a hell of a career, didn’t he? Then again, so did Michael Cimino, whose debut here, The Deer Hunter, spelled great promise for the newbie director. Of course, anyone in the know knows how that turned out, and nowadays de Niro spends his times occasionally making a decent art-house flick and appearing in fare like New Year’s Eve. But hey, how better to reminisce about one of the best actors of our generation than watching him do his thing for three hours?
The film is essentially divided into three parts: pre-war, war, and post-war. Each part has its own story to tell, and where the film succeeds is the juxtaposition of the three parts against one another. Comparing various qualities and nuggets of story between each third of the film is where repeat viewings of this mammoth production pay off. The film itself is constructed basically perfectly, and the production value, as per Cimino’s ridiculous perfectionism, is second to none. Cimino loves himself an elegant camera; it is always moving, always fluid; I can’t imagine the pre-production that must’ve gone into each and every shot to make it just right. Each moment flows from one to the next very smoothly, and the editing is largely praiseworthy for this. Robert de Niro is good; he pulls off his role excellently, although there isn’t a whole lot to really make it stand out. Another actor who appears here with a great yet tragically short career was John Cazale. All five films John Cazale ever appeared in were either nominated for or won Best Picture; just another fun little film fact for ya.
This will win you over in realism and sheer scale, even if the story at times can be a bit lagging. Regardless, this is a prime cut of filmmaking, and one that is definitely a must experience. Michael Cimino may have gone a little off the deep end with his next film, but this one is right on the money.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10