The Deer Hunter
Nick: I don't think about that much with one shot anymore, Mike.
Michael: You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it's all about. A deer's gotta be taken with one shot.
A 1978 film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Michael Cimino, his last film before the infamous disaster Heaven's Gate. It won Five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and for Christopher Walken as Best Supporting Actor.
In the 1960's, three friends, Nick (Christopher Walken), Michael (Robert De Niro), and Steven (John Savage) are enlisted to fight in Vietnam just as Steven weds his girlfriend, Angela. Nick and Michael, who both love the same woman, Linda (Meryl Streep), celebrate their last days of freedom by going deer hunting. When they do go to war, the experience is very much a nightmare; eventually, they are imprisoned by the Viet Cong and are forced to play Russian Roulette. The trio escape their captors, but they don't really escape the consequences of the war.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Played straight at first, when Linda runs into Michael's arms for comfort when they are both convinced that her boyfriend Nick is dead. Brutally subverted later on when Michael locates Nick in Saigon and tries to bring him home, only to watch Nick die right before his eyes. He never makes it home at all.
- Abusive Parents: Linda's father, who beats her in a drunken rage.
- An Arm and a Leg: Steven loses both his legs in the evacuation from the river.
- Catch Phrase: "Fuckin' A!"
- Christianity Is Catholic: Averted. The characters are Eastern Catholics (specifically Ruthenian Catholics), and many things reflect that (e.g. using music from the Eastern Orthodox tradition--which is similar--in the wedding scenes).
- Death Seeker: Nick.
- Den of Iniquity: The gambler's den in Saigon where the Vietnamese play Russian Roulette with expatriates.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Michael slaps Nick in the face to get him to play Russian roulette, knowing the alternative is being put in a rathole to die.
- Heroic BSOD: Nick, after assuming the other two died in Vietnam.
- Holiday in Cambodia: The Saigon scenes (actually filmed in Bangkok).
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: A very cruel subversion: Michael successfully snaps Nick out of his Heroic BSOD by reminding him of their earlier deer hunt. Nick then takes his turn on the roulette table...and gets the bullet.
- Meaningful Funeral: Nick's.
- Me Love You Long Time: The scenes with the Vietnamese prostitute (who has her child in the room with her).
- No One Gets Left Behind: Michael jumps back in the river after being rescued by the helicopter to help Steven.
- Nick makes Michael promise not to leave him in Vietnam. After the war, he goes back to find him.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: For all three of the heroes after the war ends.
- Pittsburgh: Where the story begins.
- Pretty Little Headshots: A fairly Egregious example when Michael shoots his Vietnamese captor in the head at point-blank range.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Michael gives one to Stanley while holding a gun to his face.
- Russian Roulette: One of its most prominent depictions in film.
- Scenery Porn: The mountain scenes. True, they're supposed to be the Appalachians when they're really the Cascades, but the incredible scenery makes up for the geography error.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Steven.
- And Nick.
- Shotgun Wedding: Steven and Angela's.
- Steel Mill: The protagonists are steelworkers.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer consists purely of 5 second clips of the film, from start to finish, with a black screen saying "The Deer Hunter" in between. It cuts away before Nick shoots himself in the final game of Russian roulette, but plays the sound of a gunshot, making it fairly clear what happens.
- The Vietnam War
- War Is Hell: So much that Michael can't even bring himself to shoot a deer after returning from Vietnam and instead suffers a breakdown.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The music that plays during the deer hunting scene would not be out of place accompanying the birth of Jesus.
- Wretched Hive: Bangkok, of course.