User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 103 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 103
  2. Negative: 12 out of 103

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  1. Feb 21, 2014
    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.
  2. 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. Expand
  3. Feb 17, 2012
    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.
  4. 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. Expand

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.