User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 85 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 77 out of 85
  2. Negative: 7 out of 85

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  1. May 4, 2011
    3
    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. Expand
  2. Aug 24, 2010
    10
    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.
  3. Jun 22, 2013
    1
    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. Expand
  4. Feb 15, 2012
    10
    The Deer Hunter is a masterpiece. It is the most powerful film to ever be created, PERIOD.
    The acting of DeNiro and Walken, and Streep is flawless. I am so grateful this movie was made, and I have it to enjoy throughout my lifetime.
  5. Aug 24, 2010
    8
    People in a small working class town, friend gets married, go to Vietnam, get capture, Russian roulette, escape, Two go back home, one doesn't.
    It takes a while to get going but builds the characters up & you get a feel of where these people are from & who they are.
    Brutal in parts (the capture scene is very intense) but also some excellent cinematography in the hunting parts.
    Really
    strong cast & I'd say one of De Niro's best films.
    Slightly long but a very good film indeed.
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  6. Sep 27, 2012
    10
    This is one of my favorite movies of all time, and it's even better on bluray. With this movie you are witnessing this people, places, and circumstances; you are not watching a bunch of actors read a script. It is like they placed cameras aroung a small steel towm, and around vietnom and simply observed. I am there with these characters and I lose friends when they die or withdraw. Oh, and Robert D's character Micheal is the most powerful character ever put on film. This movie always competes for the #1 spot for me. Expand
  7. Dec 4, 2010
    10
    My favorite movie of all time. This movie will take grasp of you and show you what a real friend is for. however it is long and somewhat slow, their is a story behind it that is dark and makes you feel like the characters are "true". i challenge to any contender. A true film!!
  8. Jan 23, 2011
    10
    This movie is potentially the most powerful film I have seen in my life. Amazing performances from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken that surely raised them to stardom. The Russian roulette scene absolutely tore me apart. That scene is potentially the most emotionally powerful scene of cinema I have ever seen. The amazing thing about this movie is that, while not only touching on issues of war and post-war syndrome, this movie shows us classical themes of friendship and brotherhood. I pretty much felt like I had just been punched in the face by a wave of awesomeness when it finished. This is, by far, one of the best movies ever made. Period. Expand
  9. Sep 25, 2011
    8
    Terribly rated, also the metascore not accurate, this film deep and so aualitive about true friendship, the best story about Vietnam how the cinema reviewers dare to give it 50 points?! or 60 looks a lot of people don't even finish to watch, in my matter of taste very strong film with fantastic casting / acting and direction.

    My Rate: 8 and half out of 10
  10. Feb 17, 2012
    2
    Because the Russian roulette image is even on the poster, verisimilitude has to be a major consideration -- even more important than the film's basic entertainment value. Near as I can tell from shallow research, there is no credible record of the Vietnamese cruelly forcing American POWs to play Russian roulette for fun and profit. That kind of made-up accusation in a movie made for popular release is just propaganda plain and tall. And it was used as propaganda by others to beat the war drum for Vietnam, though Cimino swears he never had a clue as this outcome. You might enjoy a movie that has big scenes showing French resistant fighters killing Nazis with a guillotine, or one featuring Napoleon's soldiers squeezing Austrians through a laundry wringer, but when the big scene is just made up, perhaps out of ignorance, the film can't be considered good.

    It's pointless to claim that the Russian roulette bits were not intended as criticism of the Vietnamese soldiers or that the portrayal of NVAs as grinning fiends was unintentional: That's what is on the film that millions of people saw. And, sadly, millions of American believed it -- still do.

    Look, Leni Riefenstahl was at first praised in Hollywood for her Nazi propaganda films. And there may be some cinematic merit in them. But you'd have to at least share some of her sympathies to arrive at the opinion that her 'Victory of Faith' was worth four stars.
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  11. Apr 1, 2013
    8
    I agree with some of the criticisms about the pacing of the film, particularly the drawn out wedding scene. Perhaps it was done to subtly define details in some of the characters and the relationships with each other, which I would concede it does, but feel there might have been some less lengthy ways to accomplish this.

    I do not see The Deer Hunter as a "Vietnam War" film per se. So
    many either expect or want it to be just that, and therefore fault it for failing to "define" that war historically, politically or morally, and for not having a high level of historically factual accuracy. Those who want to see films about that would be better served by We Were Soldiers, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket (these three have some flaws; take them in aggregation). I believe Deer Hunter is more a broader commentary about war in general and what it does to those directly or indirectly affected by it, either by having been in combat or in close relationships with those who were. The Vietnam War was the immediate societal and cultural experience of the time to use as a vehicle for it, and a number of aspects of the film are metaphorical. I do believe it captures with some insight, the (heavy) industrial, blue collar small towns in middle America that are much more heavily laced with provincialism and blindly unquestioning "zealous patriotism" compared to the more critical, cosmopolitan attitudes found in major metropolitan regions (patriotism without the zealotry).

    The most poignant of the metaphors are the deer hunting and the controversial Russian roulette. I don't believe the latter was ever intended to be historically accurate. It is an extremely powerful means to carry self-destructive aspects of PTSD and "survivor guilt" in particular with the seeming randomness of death in warfare, not knowing if one will survive from one moment to the next at times with each combat action being yet another round of Russian roulette. Instead of watching the film expecting it to portray "what" happened in Vietnam, view it from a perspective of how war indelibly changes those who were drawn into it, and their relationships with others as participants, family and close friends. As one of those who is part of the Vietnam War generation and served quite a few years in the army, I saw it when originally released. It was unsettling and took me a few days to realize this is what the film is about. Each viewing since then, including very recently, has confirmed it.
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  12. Jun 21, 2013
    9
    Ironic, well thought out portrayal of how the working class become cannon fodder in times of conflict. A refreshing change from the usual Hollywood propaganda, this film makes a good point about the inanity of war in as much that the main characters are Russian descendants that end up fighting for American interests in Vietnam during the Cold War. The tone is sarcastic, and mood is sombre with a theme tune by Stanley Myers that does it justice. Good acting from Meryl Streep along with the main cast. It is a pity that the film does not propose any solutions but it stands well as a criticism of war, American patriotism and empire-building at the expense of the others. Collapse
  13. Jul 23, 2013
    8
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  14. Feb 21, 2014
    3
    The Deer Hunter doesn't have such a bad premise, or acting, for that matter; in fact, it pretty much succeeds in those categories. But the movie drags on and is way too long. A good 45 minutes could've been cut from the film, easily. Also, the movie is unrealistic, banal, and horribly scripted.
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 7 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. While the results are far from unprofessional--the cast is uniformly good, including a characteristically slapped-around Meryl Streep...The male self-pity is so overwhelming that you'll probably stagger out of this mumbling something about Tolstoy (as many critics did when the film first came out in 1978) if you aren't as nauseated as I was.
  2. 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]
  3. Overlong, but with moments of greatness.