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Watching "The Deer Hunter" on Encore right now . . .

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Piotr Rasputin, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    Russian Roulette scene just ended. It's right after the "Hey, here we are in a foreign country fighting a war, and isn't it great that we old buddies just happened to hook up again!"

    A number of great performances, and a certain "reaching for epic" feel to it (witness the chorus during the early deer hunting scene).

    But the sum of its parts is a movie with an at-times questionable narrative line (basically, the entire Vietnam sequence asks for a lot of suspension of disbelief), bookended by some quality stuff from the Pennsylvania scenes. Aside from the unintentionally hilarious scene when De Niro goes to wheel Savage out of the hospital and Savage's protests stop abruptly. "Mike, NO! NO! . . OK, you do as your heart tells ya."

    Yet every time it's on, I watch it. I guess I'm looking for what everyone else sees in it.

    Late-night rant over.
     
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    DI DI MAO!
     
  3. Ruth-Gehrig

    Ruth-Gehrig Member

    Russian Roulette scene just ended. It's right after the "Hey, here we are in a foreign country fighting a war, and isn't it great that we old buddies just happened to hook up again!"

    A number of great performances, and a certain "reaching for epic" feel to it (witness the chorus during the early deer hunting scene).

    But the sum of its parts is a movie with an at-times questionable narrative line (basically, the entire Vietnam sequence asks for a lot of suspension of disbelief), bookended by some quality stuff from the Pennsylvania scenes. Aside from the unintentionally hilarious scene when De Niro goes to wheel Savage out of the hospital and Savage's protests stop abruptly. "Mike, NO! NO! . . OK, you do as your heart tells ya."

    Yet every time it's on, I watch it. I guess I'm looking for what everyone else sees in it.


    Late-night rant over.

    Piotr:

    It's one of those movies that every time its viewed, the discriminate viewer picks up another nuance.
    There was an innonence that most Americans embraced before JFK's assissination and Vietnam, and the veterans (DeNiro, Walken and Savage) brought back to their communities world horrors that were incomprehensible to most of their fellow countrymen.
    The cast of the movie depicted the confusion and disillusion incredibly well, and nothing was ever going to be same again after they returned to their little town.
    Streep's character was simple as a supermarket checker, but her perception was incredible. She was sincere, which is rare, and she tried to grasp what was going on; yet, the veterans' experiences were all so incomprehensible to many people during the late '60s, early '70s.
    A Russian literature professor once said that it's good to read (and I guess watch) classics during various periods of life because the works will convey different meanings to individuals each time they read them during the ages of 20, 40 and 60 and/or beyond.
     
  4. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    Overall it's a better movie than I gave it credit for. The Pennsylvania stuff is almost all excellent, and noteworthy for how Mike returns home and his buddies are still losers, and he once again becomes everyone's keeper.

    But the Vietnam scenes in the middle ask the viewer to suspend way too much disbelief, considering the rest of th movie's quality. And every time I see it, I notice that more and more.
     
  5. Ruth-Gehrig

    Ruth-Gehrig Member

    Overall it's a better movie than I gave it credit for. The Pennsylvania stuff is almost all excellent, and noteworthy for how Mike returns home and his buddies are still losers, and he once again becomes everyone's keeper.

    But the Vietnam scenes in the middle ask the viewer to suspend way too much disbelief, considering the rest of th movie's quality. And every time I see it, I notice that more and more.

    Piotr:
    The stream of consciousness, bringing the Vietnam scenes in an out, is what makes the film brilliant.
    Vietnam was their exclusive nightmare; everyone expected them to be the same when they returned, which was utterly impossible.

    Their friends kept trying to rekindle how it used to be; DeNiro couldn't pull the trigger on the big prize, but he had no trouble putting the gun to Cazale's (Fredo in Godfather, he sure played the moron to a tee) head.

    DeNiro reminded me a little bit of Newman in "Cool Hand Luke" when he said why does everyone have to feed off me.
     
  6. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    I'm not ripping on the Vietnam scenes being involved in the narrative. I understand all the points about how it affected them when they returned home.

    I'm ripping on the coincidence that they happened to meet up right before getting captured, when there were no other American troops around. That's a narrative, unrealistic jolt that the movie doesn't recover from until Michael gets home . . . after happening to be a spectator when Christopher Walken decides to walk into that particular Russian roulette bar for the first time.

    And . . if Michael's whole thing with bringing back Nick's body (during the fall of Saigon!!!!) was that he promised he wouldn't abandon him . . . . why didn't Mike stay in Saigon, scouring the streets for his friend, after he saw that he was alive? Hell . . dude was in uniform. Couldn't Mike have tracked him down through channels?

    Again, a well-acted film with excellent bookend sequences in Pennsylvania. And a Vietnam middle section that asks the viewer to subscribe to too many coinkydinks. I guess that's why it's a good film about friendship and such, but not a good "Vietnam film," because those are the least plausible scenes. Yes, including the riveting Russian roulette in a cage scene.
     
  7. Ruth-Gehrig

    Ruth-Gehrig Member

    I'm not ripping on the Vietnam scenes being involved in the narrative. I understand all the points about how it affected them when they returned home.

    I'm ripping on the coincidence that they happened to meet up right before getting captured, when there were no other American troops around. That's a narrative, unrealistic jolt that the movie doesn't recover from until Michael gets home . . . after happening to be a spectator when Christopher Walken decides to walk into that particular Russian roulette bar for the first time.

    And . . if Michael's whole thing with bringing back Nick's body (during the fall of Saigon!!!!) was that he promised he wouldn't abandon him . . . . why didn't Mike stay in Saigon, scouring the streets for his friend, after he saw that he was alive? Hell . . dude was in uniform. Couldn't Mike have tracked him down through channels?

    Again, a well-acted film with excellent bookend sequences in Pennsylvania. And a Vietnam middle section that asks the viewer to subscribe to too many coinkydinks. I guess that's why it's a good film about friendship and such, but not a good "Vietnam film," because those are the least plausible scenes. Yes, including the riveting Russian roulette in a cage scene.


    Piotr:

    I agree with your insightful critiques, but it's fiction, which gives the producers or authors the leeway of self-expression.
     
  8. Ruth-Gehrig

    Ruth-Gehrig Member

    Piotr:

    It's great that you started this thread. When you alluded to whether it's a good/bad Vietnam movie, I wondered what are the top Vietnam flicks?
     
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I always fall asleep during that movie, and to be honest, I always kind of root for annoying Christopher Walken to blow a hole in his head.
     
  10. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Lots of wonderful movies on Vietnam. Hell, In Country with Bruce Willis is pretty damn good. Dead Presidents is pretty damn good. As a metaphor (which it is) Predator is pretty damn good. (Predator, coincidentally, is right up there with RoboCop and Blade Runner, for my money, although Blade Runner always struck me as a commentary on cocaine/the emerging drug culture.)

    Deer Hunter is one of them. It's about innocence, and it's innocent itself. Among the most innocent movies made about Vietnam, actually.

    Apocalypse Now Redux, though, is the best, to me, because it sums the whole experience with spiritual accuracy. The essence of Vietnam is not merely captured by the movie, it was the making of the movie. And that's borne out onscreen. It's one the best movies I've ever seen.
     
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    Can't disagree with any of that and Apocalypse Now Redux is incredible.

    I've never had any patience with Deer Hunter. I have sincerely tried to watch it several times and I just lose interest. Maybe it's because I'm not of that time and place.
     
  12. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    I would say "Aliens" has been linked to Vietnam more than "Predator," but I can see the point. I've watched "Apocalypse Now" several times, and while it continues to fascinate me, I can't say I particularly enjoy it. Quote it often, though.
     
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