Generally favorable reviews - based on 7 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. 100
    What distinguishes The Deer Hunter most is its many rich characters and the size of its vision. This is a big film, dealing with big issues, made on a grand scale. Much of it, including some casting decisions, suggest inspiration by "The Godfather." [9 Mar 1979]
  2. A big, awkward, crazily ambitious, sometimes breathtaking motion picture that comes as close to being a popular epic as any movie about this country since "The Godfather."
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Brutally memorable, The Deer Hunter is an emotionally draining production that draws a vivid portrait of its characters and their milieu--and succeeds in showing the devastating effect of the war on their lives, as well as their brave attempts at renewal. Unfortunately, the film falters when it comes to the larger questions of America's involvement in Vietnam.
  4. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Among the considerable achievements of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter is the fact that the film remains intense, powerful and fascinating for more than three hours.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 85 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 4 out of 23
  1. May 4, 2011
    My expectations were high. I had heard so much about this film - THE defining Vietnam film. Gritty, unnerving, fearless and provocative, and with a wide scope that broached all the mores of the times...

    What a load of guff. I'm serious. Perhaps when the film was released in 1978 it was such a great achievement to even attempt a film about Vietnam that it got a by on artistic merit. Here's the lowdown (no spoliers): *An incredibly long wedding scene that has no particular bearing on the plot (including the memorable line "f**k it" which nicely defines the movie). *Lot's of irrelevant hunting scenes (is killing a stag like... killing a man? Am /I/ the stag?). *A combat scene in Vietnam that lasts 20 seconds (when we had to sit through the wedding scene for a half hour). *A lot of repetition of the Vietnamese word 'Mao' (and slapping) *An unrealistic firefight. *Survivor guilt *Lots more survivor guilt *A bit of amnesia and one of the characters who couldn't get enough of the Vietnamese word 'Mao' in the first place. It might seem unfair to sum up a movie like this - but the fact that the movie believes its irrelevance is portentous makes it merely pretentious. Besides some very good acting from De Nero and co. the film in reality has very little to say apart from the overarching theme of "f**k it". It does not look at America in any real way, and certainly makes a determined effort to not look at all at Vietnam. It comes in at the very tail end of the Vietnam conflict, makes some overarching gesture saying: well war makes you go mad, and then stands back at a distance marveling at the tragedy of it all. If you are going to have irrational characters, at least give their irrationality due cause. If you are going to make a film, hire an editor at some stage. If you are going to write a story about war, attempt to the utmost of your ability to feature that war. If you are going to make a film about deer-hunting, make a film about hunting deer. Do not give it an hour of screen time just to facilitate some tenuous symbolic meaning.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 24, 2010
    A great movie. The movie has three parts, a wedding, the war and at last afuneral. In the first we discover the characters. In the second we fear for their lives and in the third we sympathize with them. It is a powerful movie. and also has strong performances. Full Review »
  3. Jun 22, 2013
    I am astounded at how a film can be so long yet only have about half an hour's worth of actual professionally directed content. The first hour is completely pointless and bares no relation to the next half an hour. The characters are poorly developed and have no real personality. The film starts with an hour-long (seemingly) unedited wedding video. Then some guy shoots a deer. Then it immediately jumps into a Vietnamese battlefield, with no explanation whatsoever or anything to make a link between the most boring hour in the history of movies and the next half an hour. Even the bit which actually has some action can pretty much be summarised by a one minute cutscene in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. So the only bit that's actually exciting or eventful in this film features half an hour of Russian Roulette. That's it. So my advice: if you want to watch this film, just find a 20 minute clip of it and there's the entire film for you. There's no story behind it at all. Full Review »