The Deer Hunter
Jove, New York, 1979
The blurb on the back:
What kind of a hunter is the Deer Hunter?
Let's get some perspective on this Vietnam business. American fatalities were just under 60,000 in about a decade of war. That's around the same number as British civilian fatalities from enemy bombing during the Second World War - which lasted half as long - and about a tenth of the fatalities inflicted on the German civilian population by RAF Bomber Command during the same conflict. A damn serious war obviously, particularly if you were Vietnamese, but from an American perspective surely the significant bit (apart from losing) was what happened at home, not in the jungles of South-East Asia.
And yet even now, thirty years on, Hollywood continues to re-fight the war: at the time of writing, Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers has just opened in Britain to yawns of indifference, whilst if it weren't for Spielberg, the West's war against fascism would have been as forgotten as the Soviet Union's heroic victory over Hitler. In fact, it sometimes feels like we've seen as many American deaths portrayed in the movies as were actually suffered in Vietnam itself, almost as though Hollywood were trying to establish a new dramatic unity. (Mind you, the racial balance of the GI victims on celluloid never quite reflected reality.)
Anyway, before 'Nam got to be one of the biggest clichés in modern movie-making, The Deer Hunter was considered shocking and new and harrowing and all that kind of stuff. Truth is, it wasn't like that at all: it was simply melodramatic. That Russian roulette business? Come off it - that's rubbish, that is. In addition to which, the film was unreasonably long and featured a theme tune so tedious that not even Hank B Marvin himself managed to get any fun out of it.
Still the scenes at the beginning, with the steel-town community, were quite nice.
Anything that's good about the film - and despite my patronizing tone, there were some decent moments amidst the dull half-hours - is absent from this novelization. It's by EM Corder 'based on the screenplay by Deric Washburn; story by Michael Cimino & Deric Washburn and Louis Garfinkle & Quinn K Redeker'. Too many cooks, perhaps.
Try The LBJ Brigade instead.
One of these men is a villain, and one a hero - can you guess which is which?
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 1/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 1/5