#149: The Deer Hunter (1978)

When and how did I watch this?

January 27th and 28th, on a random site I found through a Google search. This film was particularly difficult to find, and it took a few days to get it started. And then it was long.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

DeNiro and Walken in a Vietnam-themed film.  I expected some good stuff, and was surprised about another Vietnam entry on the list, only seeing three of them.

What do I know about it now?

I almost turned it off.  The first hour or so was very slow and seemed to meander, and I didn’t understand what was going on.  I stopped it on the first night about 1:10 into it because my baby daughter was acting up and it was already past midnight.

The next evening, I finished it, and it became one of the most powerful and intense films I’ve ever seen. It’s too much to contain in a brief reaction like this.  This is a far grittier version of one my current favorites, The Best Years of Our Livesand rightfully so, for Vietnam had a far greater impact on the American psyche than arguably any of the previous conflicts. The film personalizes the war, taking the primary characters through an extremely brutal situation overseas, and has them come home with very different results. It’s hard to describe without giving too much away.  It’s one you’ll have to see for yourself.  This is not a film for the faint-hearted or sensitive — you’ll never forget it, regardless. Some of the circumstances surrounding the film rival how powerful it is.

What are some themes in the film?

Friendship, Vietnam/war, probability, PTSD, marriage

Did this affect me personally?

Oh yes.  How can I forget the pivotal scene in Vietnam, and the heart-wrenching climax?

Why is this ranked #149?

For those who have been fortunate enough to get into this one, people have recognized this film’s greatness and voted accordingly.  I’m not sure why it’s higher.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She only saw portions.  It’s a rattling film.

Would I watch it again?

Yes.  It’s not one I would go out of my way to watch to have a good time, but it flows like a quality novel and serves as a reminder of the value of life.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes, but again, it’s not for the squeamish.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

I think I’ve made this abundantly clear already. This is an important film.

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