The Deer Hunter (1978) - Legacy Series Edition

Genre(s): Drama / War
Universal || R - 182 minutes - $26.98 || September 6, 2005
Reviewer: Chris Gonzalez || Posted On: 2005-09-14

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Michael Cimino
Writer(s): Michael Cimino (story) & Deric Washburn (story) and Louis Garfinkle (story) & Quinn K. Redeker (story), Deric Washburn (screenplay)
Cast: Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep

Theatrical Release Date: February 23, 1979

Supplemental Material:
  • Cinematographer & Journalist Commentary
  • Acceptance of Best Picture Award
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Out of all the war films Iíve ever seen The Deer Hunter still stands alone as the best displaying the widest array in emotions and conflicts that came to Americaís working class. It is split up in 3 hours: the first hour as exposition and the characters before the war, the second hour on the actual war, and the final hour on the effects and outcomes on the mentality and mood of the characters and country after the war. Almost every scene is poignant and important. Itís a fantastic study on a community and mainly one man when catastrophe hits. Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, and Myrel Streep deliver exceptional performances and many moments will stick with you forever. Upon my first viewing the Russian roulette scene in the middle of the film created an impression so strong that no other scene from any war film has stayed with me stronger.


Commentary: Given the filmís somber subject matter, you know from the get-go that this isnít going to be fun or lighthearted commentary. The movie carries too much importance for that. So what weíre left with is cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and film journalist Bob Fisher chatting sporadically through its three hour running length. Zsigmond provides occasional insight into the making of the film, and talks about the composition of certain shots and camera angles, but this track is solely for hardcore fans of the film. Fisher stays quiet for most of the track and his remarks donít bring much to the table. Itís a nice effort, but a pretty weak selection of candidates to discuss the film.

Deleted Scenes: This feature runs 16 minutes and is composed mainly of scenes that remain in the film, only extended or changed in some way. Given that the film runs long as it is, it was a wise decision for these scenes to go, even though fans will eat up any more footage they can get from the characters. Thereís nothing that deepens these already thoroughly developed characters more than had been done already.

Production Notes: As standard as they come; nothing really to comment on here.

Original Theatrical Trailer: Iím personally a big fan of trailers on DVDs and get a little upset when theyíre not included. I think theyíre fun to watch if you want to get excited about the film youíre going to watch, or simply see how the trailer presents something that can be drastically different from the movie itself. This trailer is almost 3 minutes long and is almost like a Cliff Notes version of the film - it gives away the whole thing and literally ruins every surprise in the movie. If you havenít seen the actual film, avoid it at all costs.

Packaging and Menus: The 2-disc set comes in a nice looking, professional package that is a lot nicer than the typical Armay case. The menus are also very nicely done, not annoying blasting moments from the film, but using the score and shadows for transitions.


This is an old film. The picture is not going to look nearly as good as any movie that has been released in the past 10 years, but itís not supposed to look like that either. It is also not a film that is so old that it canít look perfect for its age. The colors seem a bit muted and there is a considerable amount of grain from time to time, but actually it works in favor of the film and I wouldnít be surprised if it was intentional given the themes and realism. Itís a decent transfer, but compared to other 70ís flicks like Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Jaws, etc itís less than stellar. But, we have to be grateful that it comes in anamorphic widescreen, which is a huge step up from the previous letterbox transfer.

Almost my exact same feelings on the picture apply to the sound. It is an old film, but itís still no excuse when the films I previously mentioned sound so good. There is a lot of room for some fantastic audio in the film and for the most part it doesnít come through as much as you wish it would. I donít see why they couldnít have remastered the soundtrack and given us a 5.1 experience, but all weíre given is a 2.0 track. That said, itís not bad either. It delivers marginally during a few of the war scenes and the dialogue is never hard to hear or make out. There is some hiss from time to time but I get the impression thatís from the original print and couldnít be avoided more than it has been.


The Deer Hunter is an absolutely fantastic war film, and this special edition is miles beyond the previous release in every regard. The packaging is great, and while the extras may be lacking, this will be the best edition of it weíre likely to see. A must-buy simply because of how great the movie itself is.