Saturday, October 14, 2006

Courage, Loyalty, Humanity, Ruin

Those four words are my distillation of "The Deer Hunter", one of my favorite movies.

If you haven't seen it, it's about three men, best friends - blue-collar workers in a steel town/smalltown-America in the early 70s who enlist to go to Vietnam. Before they go, one of them gets married and all of them (with other friends) go hunting deer in the mountains. This is significant as De Niro's and Walken's characters are defined by this and a later hunt - I'll skip it though. The story is about the heroism of 'ordinary' guys. Heroism at home (one of them marries a woman who is pregnant by another man - he's never slept with her) and heroism in war. Another is sensitive and romantic and yet manages to fit in with the 'rougher' crowd of the town - you can see what they like about him. He's the most human of them all. This is unfortunately his downfall in Vietnam. The other is the one who is always tough, principled, and 'just' - but not always human.

The movie is long (over three hours) so you have to really be in the mood. It also has some very brutal scenes - but they are brief and exist to bring home what they suffered. No gratuitous violence. There's a lot more I don't want to say or, having already given away much, I'll have given away too much and will spoil the movie.

It does have flaws and is not a perfect movie but it remains one of the best I have ever seen.

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