Thursday, December 30, 2010

1978: The Deer Hunter

Michael, Steven, and Nick leave their small Pennsylvania town and their lives as steelworkers and recreational deer hunters to fight in the Vietnam war.  And everything they know is turned upside down.

This is probably the most interminable and confusing disturbing movie I've ever seen, including The Godfather Part II.  Once again, I felt like I was missing something, because this film made absolutely no sense to me, especially the pacing.  The first hour (literally) consists of Steven's wedding, its reception, and a hunt.  Then suddenly they're in Vietnam and are somehow captured.  The scene during which they're prisoners drags on and on, a few more things happen very quickly, and then without any transition suddenly one of them is back home.  The scenes that drag increase the tension, which I'm sure was intentional, but it's overdone to the point that it just gets really annoying.  When time skips ahead, you're left wondering, "But what about what was just happening?"  I kept hoping that we would go back to it later, but that didn't happen.  There are several story points that were never resolved for which I can think of no logical explanation.  I have to wonder if the filmmakers just over-estimated an audience's ability to fill in plot holes, or it's not supposed to make sense, or it would make more sense if I was watching it in 1978, or the filmmakers just messed up.  But if that were the case, I don't think this film would have won 5 Academy Awards.  I think it was probably intentionally confusing to make the point that life and war are chaotic, but that knowledge doesn't make this film any easier to watch.

I did appreciate the performances of both Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro, at least in the scenes that I actually understood.  However most of the three hours I spent watching this I was trying to figure out how what was currently on the screen related to the previous scene.  I hate to feel this way about a movie, and part of me wants to watch this again at some point to see if I understand it better then, but the rest of me says that I can live a long, happy life without ever revisiting this film.  The things I actually got out of it are incredibly disturbing, which I'm pretty sure was the point of the movie, so at least I grasped that concept.  But as for the story and the pacing, not so much.  I can't tell you very much about other aspects of filmmaking that went into this movie because I was so distracted by the confusing storyline that I missed them.  I don't want to advise people not to watch this film because obviously some people really like it, as it's #135 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250.  I'm just not one of those people.

Coming up next: Kramer vs. Kramer

No comments:

Post a Comment