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The Deer Hunter: Special Edition (2 discs) [DVD] [1979]

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The Deer Hunter: Special Edition (2 discs) [DVD] [1979] + Apocalypse Now Redux [DVD] [1979] + Platoon [DVD] [1987]
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Product details

  • Actors: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep
  • Directors: Michael Cimino
  • Writers: Michael Cimino, Deric Washburn, Louis Garfinkle, Quinn K. Redeker
  • Producers: Barry Spikings, Joann Carelli, John Peverall
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, French, Russian, Vietnamese
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Warner
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Aug 2003
  • Run Time: 176 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009QNW8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,144 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Robert De Niro, John Savage and Christopher Walken star in this Michael Cimino war drama. As Michael (De Niro), Steven (Savage) and Nick (Walken) volunteer to serve in Vietnam, they fail to foresee the horrors that will encapsulate their future lives. When the men are captured by the Vietcong and forced to play Russian roulette for their entertainment, Michael and Steven manage to escape leaving Nick to fight off the enemy. As Steven is shipped home, severely disabled and damaged by the whole experience, he discovers that Nick has sent him money to help him get back into society. When the news of the fall of Saigon reaches home, Michael vows to return to Vietnam to bring home his friend.


The Deer Hunter is an expansive portrait of friendship in a Pennsylvania steel town, and of the effects of the Vietnam War. Led by the trio of Robert De Niro, John Savage and Christopher Walken (who won a supporting actor Oscar), the first hour is dominated by an engrossing Russian Orthodox wedding and reception. When the drama moves overseas it switches from anthropologically realistic documentation of a community's rituals to highly controversial and still shocking Russian Roulette scenes, symbolising the random horror of war. Unforgettable as they are, the Vietnam sequences occupy less than a third of the three-hour running time; defying movie convention The Deer Hunter is fundamentally a before-and-after ensemble character study anchored by De Niro's great performance.

Although it was the first serious Hollywood feature to address the Vietnam War, the plausibility of some of the later plot developments raises awkward questions. But the film remains powerfully effective, its deliberate pace, naturalistic overlapping dialogue and unflinching seriousness marking it very much a product of the 1970s. With nine Oscar nominations and five wins, including Best Picture and Director, it's a cinematic landmark that stands the test time, almost incidentally setting Meryl Streep on the road to superstardom in her first leading role.

On the DVD: The Deer Hunter: Special Edition has the film on the first disc with a serious yet amiable Region 2 exclusive discussion track between director Michael Cimino and critic SX Finnie. The picture is anamorphically enhanced at 2.35:1, and perfectly reproduces Vilmos Zsigmond's deliberately desaturated, necessarily grainy cinematography. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack clearly reveals the mono original, being largely focused on the centre speaker and while it does a good job, some of the choral music does sound harsh. Dialogue is sometimes indecipherable, but that's due to the naturalistic nature of the original sound recording and mixing.

Disc 2 offers excellent new interviews with Jon Savage (15 mins), Vilmos Zsigmond (15 mins) and Michael Cimino (23 mins). Also included is the original trailer (anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1), a routine photo gallery and a DVD version of the original press brochure. There's no trace of the 40 minutes of deleted material referred to by Cimino, but this presentation is still an object lesson in how quality of extras triumphs over quantity. --Gary S Dalkin

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Steven Moses on 14 Feb 2003
Format: DVD
This film runs 'The Godfather' close for arguably the finest cast of any movie. The acting is second-to-none and boasts the combined talents of De Niro, Streep, Walken and Cazale. The early part of the movie is devoted to the relationships between the main characters and a marvellously joyous Russian Orthodox wedding scene that sets up the tragedy that befalls the three friends after their capture at the hands of the Viet-Cong. The changes both physical and mental as the men return from war and the effects on their loved ones is brilliantly portrayed. Russian roulette although arguably not historically correct is used as a metaphor for Walken's disregard for his own life and the hunting trip on De Niro's return only serves to highlight his own high regard for life.
It's one of those films that stays with you long after viewing and causes you to think deeply on the terrible effect war has on people and communities. Outstanding.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Sep 2004
Format: DVD
Although based in Vietnam this film is far more a look at the effects of war on the soldiers and the people "back home" in America than a film about the war (less than half the film is based in the actual war zone). You can really be sure your getting a vietnam film when it is entirely A-political and the Americans are not only the good guys, but also victims of the war.
This is the story of three friends who go to war together for their country and their people. Upon their return we see the psychological effects of the war on their characters. The characters become unwilling or unable to form relationships, self destructive, lonely and in some cases appear to remove any trace of personality. One of the most interesting aspects of this film is actually the relevance of the title; the deer hunting is used so well to gie us an insight into the characters, their attitudes and their loyalties. The wedding scene being equally vital for showing depth to the characters but it is the hunting later in the film that allows us to see how things change.
As a director Cimino really shines here. If you are a fan of his previous work, then you'll probably find this to be his best piece. The character development and depth is truly brilliant. He really allows the audience to get attached to the characters, which he uses to its best advantage later when we see how they have changed. Cimino creates a feeling where the film is no longer entertainment, but a lesson! A lesson that we watch and although shocked, we are thankful for.
The acting from DeNiro and Walken really is amazing and without them the overall feeling of this picture may not have been possible.
This is a film that will be especially loved by fans of the vietnam genre, but can really be loved by a mauch wider audience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Outrageous on 22 Dec 2009
Format: Blu-ray
Wow! I own this on HD DVD and I have to say that this Blu-Ray is even better looking and sounding. Plays region free since I am in the United States and have no problem playing it on my Panasonic BD35. Well worth the purchase.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Speller on 4 Mar 2004
Format: DVD
The Deer Hunter is a hugely significant film, because it was the first film to deal with a problem that has troubles the American conscience for 30 years- the Vietnam War. As such, this, in my view, set the model for other films to follow- for Oliver Stone's Trilogy on Vietnam(Platoon, Born on the 4th July, Heaven and Earth- all superb films). For Apocalypse Now, the genius film from Francis Ford Coppola. For Killing Fields, for Full Metal Jacket. As such, this must be regarded as a landmark in the history of cinema.
And what a landmark- this is a powerful, moving, realistic film, concentrating on the effects of war on the individual. A common criticism of this film is that it portrays the Vietcong as sadists and the Americans as victims, when it was in fact the other way around. I for one do not deny that the US Army were rather liberal in their use of Agent Orange and Napalm, nor do I deny that many innocent Vietnamese were murdered by the Americans(take the My Lai massacre, for example). Yet it must be emphasised that the other side of the coin is equally true- that Americans were also victims, and that the Vietcong could at times be very ruthless in their methods of warfare. However, as I've said, I think this film is more about the psychological impact of war more than Vietnam itself- and that is what makes The Deer Hunter such a good film. It is a brutally honest portrayal of what many American soldiers would have experienced psychologically; it does NOT show the Americans as gung-ho colonialist adventurers, but simple everyday people put in a horrific situation; and it does not beat you senseless with violence, but rather provokes you into comprehending the trauma of war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Lister on 5 Aug 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Which actor has the best filmography in the world? Robert De Niro? Al Pacino? Perhaps - but Rocky & Bullwinkle and Gigli would say otherwise. No, the award goes to John Cazale, who before his early death featured in five great American movies, starting with The Godfather and ending with this flawed anti-war gem, directed by Michael Cimino. Cimino famously brought the roof down on the American Wave of the 1970s with his colossal western Heaven's Gate. The reason he was given that sort of clout and that sort of cash was because of The Deer Hunter, which nabbed Best Picture in 1979.

It's a story of friendships and broken friendships in industrial Pennsylvania. Two best buddies, Mike (Robert De Niro) and Nick (Christopher Walken) finish work at the steel mill and prepare for the wedding of their friend Steve (John Savage) to Angela (Rutanya Alda). The Jewish ceremony plays out virtually in real time before we're off to a raucous reception, where various rivalries and barely repressed desires play themselves out - specifically in the love triangle between Mike, Nick, and Nick's fiancée Linda (Meryl Streep). An early morning hunting trip culminates in the male friends, including John (George Dzundza) and Stan (Cazale), sharing a quiet moment in a bar. The whump-whump of helicopter blades breaks the silence. Suddenly we're in Vietnam.

The film is clearly and deliberately episodic in structure. In order to understand the effects of the Vietnam War, both individually and socially, we first see these individuals in their social element. We see what they have to lose, how they lose it, and finally the way the loss affects the community.
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