In 1968, best friends Mike, Steven, and Nick (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage, respectively) are drafted into the U.S. Army. Sent to fight in Vietnam, the three are soon captured by the Viet Cong, enduring torture games that leave them physically and emotionally scarred. Returning to their small Pennsylvania, each of them comes to terms with how drastically their lives have changed, and that none of them will ever be the same again.
Like many Vietnam War movies, “The Deer Hunter” follows a group of young men as they undergo radical changes due to their wartime experiences in Vietnam. Divided into three sections, we see these men in their daily lives before the war, their time in Vietnam, and what life looked like after the war. As we have seen, this is a startling change, symbolizing the profound way in which soldiers go from good-natured youths to traumatized veterans unable to reintegrate into civilian life.
“The Deer Hunter” was seen as a defining film of the 1970s, earning praise for its realism, maturity, and the performances of its actors. Winner of the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Walken), it has been named one of the greatest films of all time by Empire and The New York Times. “This movie has qualities we’ve almost never seen before—range and power and breadth of experience, all perfectly sustained in a three-hour film that leaves us exhausted and satisfied by the end,” said David Denby of New York magazine.