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Review: Now in 4K, 'The Deer Hunter' Remains A Poignant Reflection on Violence and The Male Psyche

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday May 26, 2020
Review: Now in 4K, 'The Deer Hunter' Remains A Poignant Reflection on Violence and The Male Psyche

Michael Cimino is one of those late, great directors who, in my eye, never received the proper praise during his career. "The Deer Hunter" not only smashed the myth that the Vietnam war was something necessary, but it also dove deep into how war can change people and those around them. The infamous Russian Roulette sequence is probably the most famous image from the film and has received plenty of criticism over the years, but it's kind of essential in understanding what Cimino was trying to get across: That random violence and the sanity of the men it touches becomes more profound than any ideological statement on the Vietnam War.

Shout Factory presents "The Deer Hunter" on a new 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray collector's edition combo pack that boasts a stunning 4K transfer sourced from the new restoration completed recently by StudioCanal. Add in new features that give some background into the tortured production history of the film, and you have an essential release of an essential movie.

Rightfully ranked as one of AFI's Top 100 Films of All Time, "The Deer Hunter" follows a group of Pennsylvania steelworkers as they get whisked away from their blue-collar lives in the Alleghenies and thrust into the Hell of the Vietnam War. Not only do their bonds get tested with one another, but their basic moral foundations also become warped by having to perform atrocities just to make it out of the war alive.

Clocking in at just over three hours, "The Deer Hunter" is still just as Homeric as it was upon initial release. Cimino was adept at filling stories not with incident, but rather astute observations of human behavior. The first third of the film is one long sequence where the main cast leaves work, gets ready for a wedding, goes to the wedding, and then takes off to hunt deer after the festivities are over. It's positively breathless in its re-creation of men bound by routine and tradition. To fully be invested in the terrors to come, Cimino correctly surmises that we must know all of these people, no matter how minute or mundane in detail.

As mentioned above, the new 4K Blu-ray of "The Deer Hunter" is a wonder to behold. There's a solid grain field that never impedes on the clarity of the picture, but it's how the presentation is able to imbue such deep contrast in darker sequences that deserves to be heralded. Those stunning mountain vistas have never looked better than they do here, too, as this restoration is a near-perfect example of when organic film tech can marry new digital tech in harmony. For fans of the film, this is a must-own release. Special features include:

• "We Don't Belong Here" — An interview with actor John Savage
• "The War at Home" — An interview with actress Rutanya Alda
• "A National Anthem" — An interview with producer Michael Deeley
• "This is Not About War" — Interview with post-production supervisor Katy Haber and Universal marketing executive Willette Klausner
• Audio commentary with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher
• Interview with film critic David Thomson
• Deleted and extended scenes
• Theatrical trailer
• Radio spots
• Still gallery

"The Deer Hunter"
4K Blu-ray & Blu-ray

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