Jun 082020
 

The Deer Hunter makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray through Shout Factory’s well done presentation including several new interviews and previously released commentary track. The film features great performances from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

 

 

The Deer Hunter
— Collector’s Edition | Shout Select —
(1978)

Genre(s): Drama, War
Shout Factory | R – 183 min. – $34.93 | May 26, 2020

Date Published: 06/08/2020 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Michael Cimino
Writer(s): Michael Cimino & Deric Washburn and Louis Garfinkle & Quinn K. Redeker (story), Deric Washburn (screenplay)
Cast: Robert De Niro, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken


DISC INFO:
Features: Commentary, Interviews, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Gallery, Theatrical Trailer
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2


Audio: (4K/BD) English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 2.35
Video (BD): 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C


Shout Factory provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.


THE MOVIE — 4.05/5


Plot Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (ROBERT DE NIRO), Nick (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN) and Steven (JOHN SAVAGE), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel town, prepare to ship out overseas following Steven’s elaborate wedding and one final group hunting trip. In Vietnam, their dreams of military honor are quickly shattered by the inhumanities of war; even those who survive are haunted by the experience, as is Nick’s hometown sweetheart, Linda (MERYL STREEP).

Quick Hit Review: I’m not overly familiar with director Michael Cimino’s work (only directed seven features) save for some analysis on his 3.5 hour epic of 1980’s Heaven’s Gate and, of course, his most noted work, The Deer Hunter, a three hour character-driven war-drama — and Best Picture winner — that doesn’t quite have the flash of other Vietnam-era films like an Apocalypse Now (released only six months later). While The Deer Hunter isn’t as briskly paced as Apocalypse Now, the three-hour running time never felt overly long.

It’s also another film to come out of what is arguably the best decade in cinema, the 1970s, one with little interference by the studio, where today some studio executive would’ve trimmed out the wedding and post-wedding scenes, for me I found them to be good for developing these characters, both big and small. It’s a statement for the time that The Deer Hunter is perhaps the bottom of my list for the era, behind Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I & II, The Conversation, The French Connection and Star Wars, not to mention Superman: The Movie, though I place TDH above it…

The film also features one of the more intense scenes which even those who’ve never seen this know of, the Russian-roulette sequence between De Niro and Walken, the latter who took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. And for his part, De Niro gives his usual intense and also understated performances for which he received a Leading Actor nomination, along with Meryl Streep for Best Supporting Actress, where her character shows the costs of war in the homeland.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5


This release comes with a matted slip cover and the inner cover is reversible.

Audio Commentary — Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigond and Journalist Bob Fisher break down the film with stories on the set; Fisher serves as a moderator. Nothing extraordinary but flows fairly well considering the film’s running time. Track also available on the 4K UHD disc.

Interviews:

  • We Don’t Belong Here (8:26) — Actor John Savage
  • The War at Home (11:28) — Actress Rutanya Alda
  • A National Anthem (13:50) — Producer Michael Deeley
  • This is Not About War (12:54) — Post Supervisor Katy Haber and Universal Publicity Willette Klausner
  • Film Critic David Thomson (24:03)

Good selection of interviews here, getting both sides of the camera and with Thomson, the critical perspective. A shame they couldn’t get Christopher Walken, though I would think that would a wild interview…

Deleted and Extended Footage (39:53) — A massive 21 scenes presented from the best source available, makes for an interesting watch, but the movie already being three hours and not much here adding to the characters, were rightfully removed.

Also included is the Theatrical Trailer (2:47), Radio Spots (1:53) and a Still Gallery (1:51).

 


4K VIDEO – 4.75/5, BD VIDEO – 4.5/5


If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time The Deer Hunter has been released on Blu-ray (it did have an HD-DVD release) and courtesy of Shout Factory, also makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD. The movie is presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and with a 2160p high-definition resolution on the 4K disc and 1080p on the Blu-ray. There’s no mention of a new transfer on the back cover or on Shout’s website, so presumably this was given by Universal. As such, this picture does look incredible on both formats, with maybe a bit more detail in 4K. There’s some good contrast going on from some of the brighter daytime scenes during the friends’ hunting trip compared to the murky, muddy and bloody sequences in Asia. Black levels are well balanced with no obvious or apparent signs of aliasing or artifacting present.

AUDIO – 4.5/5


Both formats come with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is fairly expansive showing off the clear dialogue from the center channel and the others throws you right in the middle of the action during Vietnam, including in the cramped streets and bars. There is some modest depth with a couple explosions but as I said in the movie review portion, this is very much a character drama so not too many battle scenes. Was still an impressive lossless track with no discernible pops, hisses or other flaws, which shouldn’t be a surprise as presumably this is similar to what was on the HD-DVD.

 


OVERALL – 4.5/5


Overall, The Deer Hunter is not so much a haunting portrayal of the Vietnam War compared to an Apocalypse Now as it’s a expansive look at the costs of the war both overseas and abroad, and features more than a few brutal scenes (Russian roulette particularly) alongside great performances by Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. This 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack from Shout Factory has a good selection of bonus features and great video/audio transfers.

 

 

 

 

The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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