UNIVERSAL has released "THE DEER HUNTER" as part of their "LEGACY SERIES", while not on the same par as SONY'S "SUPERBIT" series, "some" of the "LEGACY" titles have received the benefit of DTS and superior image transfers. We're disappointed that "THE DEER HUNTER" didn't get a better sound transfer, but at least "THE DEER HUNTER" looks better now than ever before!
Director Michael Cimino's received both great praise and scathing attacks when it opened. Most critics of the film tired of a movie, "any" movie requiring nearly an hour long wedding sequence as a "set up" for things to come! While the wedding scene does feel a bit long, "THE DEER HUNTER" has its own internal rhythms and the patience required in some scenes, manages to pay off in big ways later due to the relationship built with these characters for the viewer.
"THE DEER HUNTER" is both simple and complex in terms of plot. It focuses on some close friends in the steel mill area of Pennsylvania. Their closeness in spite of greatly divergent personalities is made easy to believe. When several of them go off to Vietnam, all of their lives are changed as are the lives around them.
Cimino is so gifted at subtle imagery, that it becomes infuriating to find him so enamored with hitting the viewer over the head at times! Still, the performances are all outstanding, the film, in spite of its flaws, is still a masterpiece, and it makes one understand why the '70s probably offered the best films of any decade before or since.
UNIVERSAL has finally given this film the quality of image transfer it deserves. "THE DEER HUNTER" looked horrible before, even on laserdisc! Colors were never consistent and the grain was prominent in virtually every scene.
While there is still grain present, it's there when intended. "THE DEER HUNTER" had an elaborate production design and this reviewer remembers the intentional grainy look various scenes necessitated. Colors are solid and the detail is exquisite. Fleshtones appear natural throughout.
UNIVERSAL has fallen a bit short in the sound department, however. While we were hoping for a DTS 5.1 mix, we've been given a Dolby Digital 5.1. Unfortunately, in various scenes, it's not even as good as the previous Dolby Surround mix. Surrounds are rarely used effectively and dialogue isn't as sharp as it should be, requiring us to utilize subtitles for clarity. Music is well complimented and the movie's simple but powerful theme stays with us long after the film is over.
UNIVERSAL has included some extras. A terrific commentary with the film's cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond and film journalist Bob Fisher, is offered. Zsigmond is one of, if not the best cinematographers of all time. This commentary is terrific due to his incredible insight and explanation as to what has been intended and achieved throughout the film. Zsigmond really advanced the area of cinematography with "THE DEER HUNTER" with use of rack-focus and more. Definitely worth a listen!
UNIVERSAL has included "deleted scenes" on disc 2, but they're not really deleted scenes, only alternate, extended takes and they're really disappointing to those fans hoping to find lost treasure.