It is hard to think of a recent American film which has been as classically and persistently misread as The Deer Hunter.
This excruciatingly violent, three-hour Viet Nam saga demolishes the moral and ideological cliches of an era: it shoves the audience into hell and leaves it stranded without a map.
The Deer Hunter has done what The Green Berets could not do more than a decade ago: it has moved audiences to actively root for the American military fighting the Vietnam war.
“Look, the film is not realistic — it's surrealistic. Even the landscape is surreal. For example, the little steel town we called Clairton is composed of eight different towns in four states. You can't find that town anywhere — it doesn't exist. And time is compressed.
For all its pretensions to something newer and better, this film is only an extension of the old Hollywood war-movie lie. The enemy is still bestial and stupid, and no match for our purity and heroism; only we no longer wipe up the floor with him—rather, we litter it with his guts.