Jump to content
Cameron H.

Deer Hunter

Should Deer Hunter be on the list?  

8 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Should Deer Hunter be on the list?

    • ūü¶Ć
      3
    • ūüéĮ
      5

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 07/12/19 at 07:00 AM

Recommended Posts

Paul & Amy take aim at Michael Cimino's 1978 Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter! They investigate the film's controversial use of Russian Roulette, ask whether Robert De Niro's character is too perfect, and try Unspooled's first ever film-inspired food tasting segment. Plus: Rutanya Alda, who plays Angela in the film, talks about her journey from Latvia to Hollywood.

For Gone With The Wind week, fill in the blank: "Frankly my dead, I don't give a ___." Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

This episode is brought to you by Betterhelp (www.betterhelp.com/unspooled).

Share this post


Link to post

It’s funny, while I still feel like the movie should be on the list (or, at least, I’m not frothing at the mouth either way), I found that my opinion on this viewing (my second) falls somewhere between Amy’s and Paul’s. On the one hand, I liked it more than Apocalypse Now and I appreciated a lot about it, but I definitely felt Paul’s criticisms. It just feels like it takes so long for it to get going. I mean, yeah, I get the argument that if you cut a lot of the wedding stuff the rest of the film suffers, but that’s only if you cut the wedding scene as is and don’t attempt to rewrite the scene more economically.

I also felt like Michael was ‚Äútoo perfect.‚Ä̬†I get the argument that he was flawed and had his issues,¬†but he was still always right. He was always the most put together. The most humble. It was clear that the movie wanted you walking away thinking ‚Äúnow that‚Äôs a man.‚ÄĚ

My other complaint was that - in a way - the whole movie felt like a play that was too big for the stage. There‚Äôs often a heavy-handedness in theater that we forgive based on its¬†limitations. Characters¬†tend to speak in purple prose and dense¬†exposition. Character types are exaggerated. If there‚Äôs a ‚Äúdrunk bro type‚ÄĚ he‚Äôs the drunkest, bro-iest type there ever was and resembles nothing like what actually exists in the real world.¬†All of that stuff is¬†present in The Deer Hunter, when it really doesn‚Äôt have to be. They characters felt more like outlines rather than three dimensional. #FuckingA

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

It just feels like it takes so long for it to get going. I mean, yeah, I get the argument that if you cut a lot of the wedding stuff the rest of the film suffers, but that’s only if you cut the wedding scene as is and don’t attempt to rewrite the scene more economically.

Beyond the (alleged) goal of padding the length of the film, I think the extended wedding scenes came from writers struggling to give the audience any reason to sympathize with a group of unlikable characters. When your protagonists are drunk assholes who drive recklessly and aren't perturbed by women getting slapped around or having guns waved in their faces, and who possibly enlisted as an excuse to shoot Vietnamese people ("Kill a couple for me!"), it's hard to care when they're subjected to the horrors of war.

Paul's opinions this week strongly echo my own. I appreciate Platoon for its hyperrealistic portrayal of the war from someone who experienced it firsthand, and Apocalypse Now as an impressionistic fantasy based on "the war" as it diffused through American consciousness. I don't feel The Deer Hunter adds anything new to this duality, and I don't think it belongs on the AFI 100 for that reason.

Also, I see Paul and Amy getting some pushback on Twitter for discounting a queer interpretation of The Deer Hunter. When Cimino has demonstrated so little interest in subtlety for the majority of the film, I can't imagine him playing coy about Michael and Nick's sexuality, especially when the simplest explanation (Michael pining over Linda while feeling honor-bound to not pursue her) slaps you in the face every five minutes.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I think it's a good film, but I voted no. I don't think we need this on the list with Apocalypse Now and Platoon already there.

It seems like there are kind of two ways you can go with a Vietnam War movie: (1) forget about realism and do a kind of abstract fantasy version that comments on the nature of war itself, or (2) try to deliver something close to the real experience a person might have had there. It seems to me that Apocalypse Now does the former better and Platoon does the latter better. The Deer Hunter seems like it's trying to do both, which maybe contributes to the extreme length and getting criticized for including things like Russian Roulette scenes that have no real-world truth to them.

I still find it a compelling story: it's very well-acted and beautifully filmed. But do I NEED it on the Top 100? Nah.

Share this post


Link to post

I agree with both @DanEngler and @sycasey 2.0, however, what I think sets The Deer Hunter apart from Platoon and Apocalypse Now is that The Deer Hunter isn’t so much about the Vietnam War as it is about PTSD. For me, that gives it a perspective that argues for its inclusion. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other movies on the list tackle that issue (maybe Best Years of Our Lives, but I haven’t seen that yet)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Did anyone else notice that, when the helicopters initially fly past the escapees as they float down the river, there are already two guys hanging from the skids? The fact that this isn't listed as a goof on IMDb (i.e. accidentally using a shot from the attempted rescue a minute later) has me wondering if I missed something.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DanEngler said:

Did anyone else notice that, when the helicopters initially fly past the escapees as they float down the river, there are already two guys hanging from the skids? The fact that this isn't listed as a goof on IMDb (i.e. accidentally using a shot from the attempted rescue a minute later) has me wondering if I missed something.

Huh, I just chalked that up to the helicopter having rescued a couple of other dudes down river. I didn’t even consider it might be a goof.

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/4/2019 at 12:38 PM, Cameron H. said:

Huh, I just chalked that up to the helicopter having rescued a couple of other dudes down river. I didn’t even consider it might be a goof.

I didn't know if it was this, or the helicopters were retreating from an ambush and the dangling men were enemy soldiers, or just bad filmmaking. ūüôÉ

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
27 minutes ago, DanEngler said:

I didn't know if it was this, or the helicopters were retreating from an ambush and the dangling men were enemy soldiers, or just bad filmmaking. ūüôÉ

Yeah, I’m starting to like this movie less and less...

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I agree with both @DanEngler and @sycasey 2.0, however, what I think sets The Deer Hunter apart from Platoon and Apocalypse Now is that The Deer Hunter isn’t so much about the Vietnam War as it is about PTSD. For me, that gives it a perspective that argues for its inclusion. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other movies on the list tackle that issue (maybe Best Years of Our Life, but I haven’t seen that yet)

That's true, the PTSD thing is unique. Though if I were to pick a movie about that subject, I'd rather pick another movie from the same year: Coming Home. I think I'd also rather have Hal Ashby on the list than Michael Cimino anyway.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

That's true, the PTSD thing is unique. Though if I were to pick a movie about that subject, I'd rather pick another movie from the same year: Coming Home. I think I'd also rather have Hal Ashby on the list than Michael Cimino anyway.

I’ve never heard of that. I’ll have to check it out :) 

Share this post


Link to post
36 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I’ve never heard of that. I’ll have to check it out :) 

Both leads won Oscars: Jon Voight and Jane Fonda.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

The Deer Hunter is tied with Unforgiven in the category of "Romantic Guitar Song Inexplicably Used as Theme".


  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/4/2019 at 2:29 PM, Cameron H. said:

(maybe Best Years of Our Lives, but I haven’t seen that yet)

You should, it really lives up to the hype. Unlike The Deer Hunter. I agree with others that it's a really overrated movie, with Michael a practically flawless protagonist. Part of my negative attitude could be the result of watching Cimino's first three movies all in a row and getting increasingly annoyed at his bloat*, but I really do think that Platoon & Apocalypse Now are both better in their different ways. The Deer Hunter just arrived earlier.

*I know it's not being covered here, but Heaven's Gate really is a bad movie serving as a monument to Cimino's wasteful ego.

Share this post


Link to post

I watched The Deer Hunter for the first time for this episode. While it shows flashes of brilliance, and definitely has some interesting performances, the racism at the core of its Vietnam scenes is troubling. Ironic that last week’s episode was about probably one of the most perceptive films ever made about racism.

The Russian roulette scenes just killed (no pun intended) any good will I had toward the story. They are so unbelievable and play into racist stereotypes about Asian culture.

 

Share this post


Link to post

I got a late start on the podcast because of the holiday week here, and I am sort of floored that this film doesn't have ardent defenders on this forum.  Therefore, I suppose I'll be the first.

First, some things that I am not holding against this movie.  By all accounts, it seems like Michael Cimino is a huge asshole who used questionable methods at several points of making this film.  I readily admit that, but I am not incorporating that into my judgment of this movie.  Also, it seemed like Paul wanted to judge the film for being based on a rather ridiculous-sounding Vegas screenplay.  If you want to use that as an argument that the brilliance of what made it onto the screen was by accident rather than by plan, I could see that argument, but again, I'm only judging the film as I see it.

Next, to address some of the common criticisms.  No, there was no Russian roulette being played in Vietnam.  I don't believe the film is trying to make you think there was, but perhaps this ambiguity of intention is what people bristle most at, as if this film was somehow purporting itself to be an historically accurate account of the Vietnam War.  For one thing, I don't understand how someone could watch this film and think that, but for another, if people do misunderstand this intention, how much of that is the fault of the film?  Many Nazis see Starship Troopers as a celebration of facism and race supremacy rather than a critique of such things, which was Verhoeven's intention.  Should the film be faulted for not being more transparent?  Did The Deer Hunter need a disclaimer that said "This film is completely fiction, and also don't try to play Russian roulette at home, you idiots"?

About accusations of racism: I am not Vietnamese, so I have no ability to say that this film should or shouldn't be offensive to a Vietnamese person (or any other Asian ethnicities, for that matter.)  So I want to choose my words carefully, because I'm in no way saying that someone is wrong for finding this offensive.  However, the cage scene included victims who were South Vietnamese, so it's not true that all the Asian characters were portrayed in a negative light.  And while North Vietnamese troops never forced prisoners to play Russian roulette, there are plenty of accounts of the North Vietnamese subjecting their prisoners to different types of physical and psychological torture.  And yes, Americans have been guilty of the exact same thing too, and that isn't depicted in this film, and perhaps that's problematic that we only get to see one side.  Again, I'm not trying to refute anyone's feelings, I'm just pointing out those things.

About Michael as a "perfect" character: what?  This dude's a fucking asshole to every in the town but Nick!  I find his views on hunting in the beginning to border on ruthless sociopathy, and it's this ruthless sociopathy that gets him through the war.  He was so fucked up that going through the war actually makes him a better person, as he realizes that his previous samurai-esque credo was bullshit.  I think the film posits that anyone who could make it through a war like that without losing their minds a bit must be a psychopath.  Now, I would say that the film clearly sets up that Michael is the alpha male, Steven is the beta male, and Nick is the gamma male.  Perhaps someone drawn to alpha male leadership would have a higher opinion of Michael than I do.

And to Paul's criticism that the small town feels imagined: having also grown up in a "suburb" of Pittsburgh (I was probably a bit too far away to be considered a suburb, but it was the closest urban area), most of it felt very real to me.  Why does Michael make a big deal about Rolling Rock?  Because some other yinzer would probably give her an Iron City!  But it's completely believable to me that after working at the plant/mill/factory/pick your favorite Rust Belt small-town industry, everyone would ritualistically go to the bar.  And I genuinely feel sorry for Paul if he doesn't have any male friends that he can break out in song with after a few beers when something everyone knows comes on the jukebox.  As I mentioned in my Letterboxd review, my only major complaint with the depiction of Clairton is that all three male leads speak in THICK NEW YORK ACCENTS which bummed me out as an aficionado of the heavy Pittsburgh accent.

On 7/4/2019 at 3:29 PM, Cameron H. said:

what I think sets The Deer Hunter apart from Platoon and Apocalypse Now is that The Deer Hunter isn’t so much about the Vietnam War as it is about PTSD.

Yes!  But that's just one way to look at it.  While Paul sees the film as muddled, I see it as having many, many layers.  I dove into a couple in my Letterboxd review, but the one I'll talk about now is Russian roulette as a metaphor for war, particularly the Vietnam War.  Each soldier goes knowing that there's a chance every day that they'll die, and there's a chance their enemy will die, but neither can leave until one side is downed.  The prison Russian roulette scene represents the draft; sadistic powers that be force unwilling participates to kill or be killed.  Next, the Frenchman plays the part of a military recruiter, trying to incentivize you to willingly gamble with your own life while he reaps the benefits.  And ultimately, Nick's addiction to the game stands in for the soldier who volunteers over and over because civilian life seems to be no longer a viable option, which is part of the PTSD thing.  But all the spectators are the governments who use people's lives like chess pieces to achieve goals that are far from the minds of those with their fingers on the triggers.  As a case in point, the US fought the Vietnam War not against any Vietnamese factions, but against the ideologies of the Soviet Union.  So then to this point:

On 7/4/2019 at 3:19 PM, sycasey 2.0 said:

It seems like there are kind of two ways you can go with a Vietnam War movie: (1) forget about realism and do a kind of abstract fantasy version that comments on the nature of war itself, or (2) try to deliver something close to the real experience a person might have had there. It seems to me that Apocalypse Now does the former better and Platoon does the latter better. The Deer Hunter seems like it's trying to do both

I think this is an apt point, but it again goes with the theme.  This film is pointing out that the Vietnam War was a literal war fought against a figurative enemy, and the film depicts this using a figurative war with literal casualties.  And to refute something else brought up in the podcast: the characters aren't Russian because of Russian roulette, they're Russian to prove a point about the arbitrariness of boundaries and the stupidity of losing so many lives over something so arbitrary.  If Nick Chevotarevich's parents or grandparents hadn't immigrated, he'd be on the other side.  Maybe he'd be one of the Soviet troops who invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, or maybe he'd think about joining the war in Afghanistan in 1979.  But the point is, the only difference is that he'd be on the other side of the Russian roulette table.

So all in all, I find The Deer Hunter to be one of the richest anti-war films that I've seen, and the final scene of the characters singing "God Bless America" is an all-time cynical ending, turning the cliché 70s downer ending on its head by providing what seems to be an uplifting moment for its characters, but is a gut-punch to the viewer.

Look, I could talk about this film as much as anyone wants (I didn't touch on the homoerotic interpretation, which I also think is fascinating), but I've already probably written more than anyone cares to read, and I have another 500 words or so in my Letterboxd review about a couple themes/motifs that I didn't even mention here.  And I'm sure that I won't sway anyone's opinion, but I just felt that this movie deserved someone to say that despite the director being an asshole, despite the production issues, despite the controversies, this film is fucking great.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, bleary said:

For one thing, I don't understand how someone could watch this film and think that, but for another, if people do misunderstand this intention, how much of that is the fault of the film?

I think some of it is the fault of the film, because the style of filmmaking in the early scenes seems to promise a kind of unfiltered naturalism. The camera is not subjective, it is usually quite objective, taking the laid-back "God's eye" view of a scene. I think this is in clear contrast to other films covered on this podcast, like Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, etc., highly stylized works with a lot of first-person narration. That's a subjective presentation. Whatever racism or other horrible viewpoints might be demonstrated through that lens can be justified as the subjective view of an unreliable mind. I'd argue The Deer Hunter is not subjective in presentation; it sets the expectation that it is objective.

So then when the Vietnam scenes seem to be presented as complete fantasy-land, with Russian Roulette games that never happened, that might seem a bit incongruous. Or if the intention was to make America seem like a "real" place and Vietnam like a "fantasy hell," then I suppose that does help get across a director's intention, but IMO it also buttresses the claims of racism against Asians ("Orientalism" being the primary way this is expressed in popular Western media, the idea that such cultures are inherently exotic and unknowable). This is where I get the sense that the film is a bit confused, and not in a clearly purposeful way.

I still agree that it's a good film, but upon this latest viewing these problems bugged me more than before.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
20 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I think some of it is the fault of the film, because the style of filmmaking in the early scenes seems to promise a kind of unfiltered naturalism. The camera is not subjective, it is usually quite objective, taking the laid-back "God's eye" view of a scene. I think this is in clear contrast to other films covered on this podcast, like Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, etc., highly stylized works with a lot of first-person narration. That's a subjective presentation.¬†Whatever racism or other horrible viewpoints might be demonstrated through that lens can be justified as the subjective view of an unreliable mind. I'd argue The Deer Hunter is not subjective in presentation; it sets the expectation that it is objective.ÔĽŅ

I agree with your general premise, but I disagree that the distinction between objective and subjective works is as clear-cut as you suggest.  For one thing, I recall plenty of disagreement over the subjectivity of Taxi Driver.

Secondly, regardless of how it is shot, I kind of don't think we're ever supposed to infer accuracy in a fictional story.  Do people assume the SFPD is completely incompetent after watching Dirty Harry?  Do we believe that the U.S. gave life imprisonments in Alcatraz to any British spies after watching The Rock?  What is the different standard that I'm not seeing?

Share this post


Link to post
46 minutes ago, bleary said:

I agree with your general premise, but I disagree that the distinction between objective and subjective works is as clear-cut as you suggest.  For one thing, I recall plenty of disagreement over the subjectivity of Taxi Driver.

Secondly, regardless of how it is shot, I kind of don't think we're ever supposed to infer accuracy in a fictional story.  Do people assume the SFPD is completely incompetent after watching Dirty Harry?  Do we believe that the U.S. gave life imprisonments in Alcatraz to any British spies after watching The Rock?  What is the different standard that I'm not seeing?

Hmm, well I don't know that I was arguing that aesthetic interpretation is always clear-cut, just laying out how I read the film's language from the beginning and why that causes some problems as the story goes along. Then I use some other examples where I see a different kind of cinematic language that allows me to more readily accept the questionable elements of the story.

It's true that historical accuracy isn't necessarily important, but in this case it's more about the established tone (as I see it) starting to jar with the narrative as it indulges in more flights of fancy. I don't think the film goes completely off the rails or anything, but it's enough to knock it down the list for me.

Share this post


Link to post
On 7/6/2019 at 9:24 PM, bleary said:

About Michael as a "perfect" character: what?  This dude's a fucking asshole to every in the town but Nick!  I find his views on hunting in the beginning to border on ruthless sociopathy, and it's this ruthless sociopathy that gets him through the war.  He was so fucked up that going through the war actually makes him a better person, as he realizes that his previous samurai-esque credo was bullshit.  I think the film posits that anyone who could make it through a war like that without losing their minds a bit must be a psychopath.  Now, I would say that the film clearly sets up that Michael is the alpha male, Steven is the beta male, and Nick is the gamma male.  Perhaps someone drawn to alpha male leadership would have a higher opinion of Michael than I do.

I think I'm in the camp that likes it more than others, but it has its flaws.  However some of your arguments, I have further questions (or possibly rebuttals).

Outside of Fredo, I mean John Cazale, I'm trying to remember to who else in the town is he an asshole.  And let's be honest, Fredo was Fredo'ing it up. 

I think some of the "perfect"-ness of Michael is also a statement on how his actions (the probability, success, and certainty of them) wouldn't seem out of place in the action movies that would follow in the 80s.  It also makes me think of Mark Wahlberg's ridiculous take on what he would have done on 9/11 if he was on any of those planes, but that's an aside.

In terms of differentiating this from other Vietnam movies, or well, to categorize it in terms of what it's concerned about, at a high level, I'd describe it as the effect the Vietnam war had on average American life.  This might be influenced by my thoughts that the Vietnam parts are the worst aspects of the films and the non-Vietnam parts, the best.  However, I think that's where the bulk of the movie time is spent.

I think I need you to clarify more on how Michael's hunting mentality borders on being a psychopath, since I get the feel from the film that it's supposed to be some type of zen-warrior type of shit.

On 7/6/2019 at 9:24 PM, bleary said:

About accusations of racism: I am not Vietnamese, so I have no ability to say that this film should or shouldn't be offensive to a Vietnamese person (or any other Asian ethnicities, for that matter.)  So I want to choose my words carefully, because I'm in no way saying that someone is wrong for finding this offensive.  However, the cage scene included victims who were South Vietnamese, so it's not true that all the Asian characters were portrayed in a negative light.  And while North Vietnamese troops never forced prisoners to play Russian roulette, there are plenty of accounts of the North Vietnamese subjecting their prisoners to different types of physical and psychological torture.  And yes, Americans have been guilty of the exact same thing too, and that isn't depicted in this film, and perhaps that's problematic that we only get to see one side.  Again, I'm not trying to refute anyone's feelings, I'm just pointing out those things.

The, "there are plenty of accounts of the North Vietnamese subjecting their prisoners to different types of physical and psychological torture," combined with the beginning of the film supposed to feel realistic, combined with the general sense of, I believe most people didn't go over to Vietnam (at least, outside of the draft age), their knowledge of what "the shit" is, was going to be spread via word-of-mouth.  So, I don't think the film should necessarily be let off the hook so easily on the assumption people will know what's fact or what's fiction.  I agree with you on what russian roulette was a metaphor for, and something would be lost thematically taking it out, but one has to acknowledge the downside of it confusing the minds of people when discussing what type of tortures the North Vietnamese did to soldiers.  The difficulty of disproving a negative (saying russian roulette didn't happen) would also cause the misconception to linger.  In terms of people actually playing russian roulette after seeing the film... okay, I don't want to be crass, but that is Darwin Awards stuff, and won't blame the film for that.

There's also the issue that it wasn't the North Vietnamese setting up a russian roulette gambling house in the later half of the movie.  I can't help but wonder if this even worse because then it just portrays all Vietnamese, not just our enemies in the war, as people who don't value human life.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Fwiw, I like The Deer Hunter more than Platoon, but at the same time will acknowledge that Platoon probably had the best fights in terms of, "I believe this to be the most accurate depiction of a combat in Vietnam."  It also had a lot of impressive jungle scenes.  I am not fond of the narration or the general writing.  The conflict of world-views seemed somewhat simplistic.  I do wonder how we would view Platoon if Stone wasn't a veteran, but that's a counterfactual that I can't really imagine.

I love Apocalypse Now, but I am someone who enjoys journey into the darkness of man type of stories that are done on a cinematically spectacular level.

Full Metal Jacket (not on the list), I also love for its theme of the socialization of soldiers into killers (accompanied with the sub-theme of the dehumanization of the enemy, and the progression of being able to kill people closer and personal to the soldiers).

I just rattled those off, because each of those main Vietnam films have their own focuses and strengths (and weaknesses), and going into this rewatch of The Deer Hunter, I mostly remembered I didn't like the Vietnam scenes beforehand, decided I didn't want to frame it as, "should it be on the list, should it not be on the list?," and went with, "What do I like about this movie?  What do I dislike about this movie?"  Which I think gave me a more enjoyable experience (something I've said in the past, and then the very next week, I've reverted back to, "does this belong on the list").

Just tossing that out there.

Side observation - this is the vietnam movie that Amy likes.  I remember she had the thesis that she thinks men like war movies because they are the only movies where men can show vulnerable emotions to each other.  I can't help but notice that's definitely more true of this one than Apocalypse Now.  I think also more-so than Platoon.

Thought I'm wondering (and am too lazy to check) - what non-Vietnam war movies are on the list?  Saving Private Ryan... M*A*S*H (though, I think the popularity of that one was due to Vietnam). I'm drawing a blank on what, if anything, else.

 

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

There's also the issue that it wasn't the North Vietnamese setting up a russian roulette gambling house in the later half of the movie.  I can't help but wonder if this even worse because then it just portrays all Vietnamese, not just our enemies in the war, as people who don't value human life.

The gambling house near the end of the movie is actually being run by the Chinese, I believe. That may not actually be better, if it's now extending this brutality to East Asian people in general.

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Thought I'm wondering (and am too lazy to check) - what non-Vietnam war movies are on the list?  Saving Private Ryan... M*A*S*H (though, I think the popularity of that one was due to Vietnam). I'm drawing a blank on what, if anything, else.

Lawrence of Arabia (WW1) and Bridge on the River Kwai (WW2) have to count, I think. Then you could argue for stuff like Casablanca or Schindler's List as being wartime movies, though not directly about the war.

EDIT: And I'm forgetting the Civil War, aren't I? The General definitely qualifies, and Gone with the Wind probably as a "wartime movie" as described above.

Share this post


Link to post

Also The African Queen (WW2) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (WW2) are more or less wartime movies.  As mentioned, The Best Years of Our Lives is an aftermath of WW2 movie, just like much of The Deer Hunter is an aftermath of Vietnam movie.  And who could forget that brutal war fought between Freedonia and Sylvania, depicted so authentically in Duck Soup?  Also, one more that isn't a war film but has war scenes is Forrest Gump.  (Speaking of the high volume of Vietnam War films, I'll shamelessly plug my Sporcle quiz on sorting famous actors by their Vietnam War films: https://www.sporcle.com/games/bleary0/vietnam-war-film-by-actor )

9 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

The gambling house near the end of the movie is actually being run by the Chinese, I believe. That may not actually be better, if it's now extending this brutality to East Asian people in general.ÔĽŅ

Yeah, and this is something that's hard to defend.  My read is that they're only Asian because it didn't make plot sense for Nick to suddenly be in Australia or South America or something, since they don't have to be Asian for the metaphor for colonialism to work (perhaps if the game is run by Caucasians, the metaphor becomes too heavy-handed, but that's hardly an excuse).  I do think a large part of the problem is that these scenes became iconic and have been parodied over and over, so an absurdly false stereotype has been created of Chinese and Vietnamese running backroom Russian roulette games.  So it seems even worse in hindsight for initiating this racist stereotype.  But it's still something that could have been changed at the time.

15 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Outside of Fredo, I mean John Cazale, I'm trying to remember to who else in the town is he an asshole.  And let's be honest, Fredo was Fredo'ing it up. 

I think some of the "perfect"-ness of Michael is also a statement on how his actions (the probability, success, and certainty of them) wouldn't seem out of place in the action movies that would follow in the 80s.  It also makes me think of Mark Wahlberg's ridiculous take on what he would have done on 9/11 if he was on any of those planes, but that's an aside.

Michael tells Nick that Steven, Stan, John, and Axel are "all a bunch of assholes" and that he doesn't want to hunt with them.  Michael knows that Linda, John, Axel, and Stan are waiting up for his return from Vietnam and he just ditches them without even telling them that he's not coming.  Michael tries to leave Steven for dead in Vietnam and has to be talked out of it.  Michael jerks Linda around, selfishly disregarding her feelings.  And again, I might be harsher on Michael than others because I have zero time for uber-alpha dudes.  And comparing him to Mark Wahlberg and 80s actions heroes fits for me, because they're all uber-alpha dudes too, and I largely think that they're assholes.

15 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I think I need you to clarify more on how Michael's hunting mentality borders on being a psychopath, since I get the feel from the film that it's supposed to be some type of zen-warrior type of shit.

Admittedly, calling it pathological might be a bit of a stretch, but it's certainly delusional.  My read is that his "one shot" philosophy is about giving the deer honorable deaths, as he respects their fighting spirit.  Now, I'm not making any sort of PETA or anti-PETA stand.  I don't care if you view deer as creatures with souls or as walking meat bags, but one thing that deer definitely are not is worthy fucking adversaries.  He is deluded in thinking that the fundamentally "predator versus prey" nature of the hunt is actually more of a even-handed duel between gentlemen.  This is why when he returns from Vietnam, a place where he became the prey that was toyed with, he no longer felt the same way about hunting.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into this aspect of his character.  After all, what reason does he give for using only one shot?  "Two is pussy."  Spoken like a true alpha male asshole.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×