Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Movies That Matter: The Deer Hunter Veterans Day 5

The Deer Hunter is one of the classics with regard to anti-war movies. But it is far more than just focusing on one guy and his inevitable downfall. It is a story of friendship and loyalty. Even when we don’t see the soldiers we served with for years, there is a link that will never be broken, a comfort that immediately takes hold even before the first bottle cap is released. It is also what makes it so hard when these same friends don’t make it.

The Deer Hunter won several Academy Awards, though to be honest this neither makes it a great movie, not does it denigrate other movies of the time. I was surprised to learn that one of the most memorable aspects of the movie, Russian-roulette gambling games, were not part of the Vietnam war, I learned that Director Michael Cimino used them as a metaphor for the futility of war. The connection between what happened in Vietnam and what happened to their families back in Pennsylvania, gives the movie a needed perspective that is so often ignored.

This might be the age of the Internet when news is old by the end of the day, but The Deer Hunter is 41 years old, and still as relevant as it was then. ——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com



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2 thoughts on “Movies That Matter: The Deer Hunter Veterans Day 5

  1. Mr. Movie Buff must make a correction here. “The Deer Hunter” was released in 1978, which makes it 32 years old.

    I saw it when it first came out and found it very good but very intense and disturbing film in parts. It was *extremely* controversial, as it was perceived by leftist Hollywood as being virulently racist against the Vietnamese–there’s a story that Jane Fonda refused to even acknowledge the presence of director Michael Cimino when they met on an elevator. I have to say, intended or not, that Vietnam comes off looking really terrible in that movie. It received plenty of boos and boycotts. While I liked the movie, I found I had to keep quiet about it if I wanted to avoid the puritanical stares of my liberal compatriots.



  2. That’s fascinating. I never knew that it stirred controversy on both sides of the isle. The Jane Fonda anecdote is amazing.
    Thank you,

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