Co-Writer/Director: Michael Cimino
Running time: 182 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 27th February 1979
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 18th September 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have tried to watch this film a few in the past, but always failed to understand it. This time I cleared FOUR HOURS, taking into account all the little things that distract the viewer at home, and this time I actually got to the end and had some kind of a grip on what it was all about. Here are a couple of sentences about the film before I give you my thoughts.
This is a film of five acts; I’ve called them Home, Hunting, Nam, Home Again and Nam Again. Others may divide it up differently, but that’s how I see it. The story revolves around three guys; Michael, Steven and Nick, from a Pennsylvania steel town who go off to the Vietnam war full of hope and bravado. It deals with what happens to them there and the effects it has on both them and their loved ones back home. I won’t go into specifics, but the effects of their experiences resonate deeply into the community they came from. I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police will force me to play roulette with some Vietnamese gentlemen.
First of all, great music throughout, not least the main theme performed by classical guitarist, John Williams. Also the film was beautifully shot by Director of Photography, Vilmos Zsigmond. Great performances all round, particularly from; Robert De Niro as Michael, Christopher Walken as Nick and John Savage as Steven. These three really carried off quite a performance! They were ably backed up by; John Cazale as Stan, Meryl Streep as Linda, George Dzundza as John and Chuck Aspegren as Axel.
Putting aside the great performances, the cinematography and the music for a moment, I have to take a second to comment on the length of the piece. It is far too long; the first two acts take up nearly half the running time and do nothing to further the story that couldn’t be done in thirty to forty minutes. The sequence in Vietnam could have been expanded, for instance, there is nothing that tells us just how they ended up in the situation they did (no spoilers I’m afraid). The later acts could have been dramatically shortened also. So I reckon about an hour could have been cut from this film and it would have been just as good, if not better. I am going to give it quite a decent score despite these misgivings because it is still a very powerful drama that I actually found quite compelling at times… Recommended (with reservations).
My Score: 7.5/10.
IMDb Score: 8.2/10 (based on 104,871 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91/100 (based on 45 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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Michael: What kind of beer would you like?
Linda: What? I don't know. I don't care. Any kind.
Michael: I'll get you a Rolling Rock.
Michael: It's a good beer, it's the best around.
Army Doctor: Chevotarevich, is that a Russian name?
Nick: No, it's an American name.
Stan: How does it feel to be shot?
Michael: Don't hurt. That's what you wanna know. And how it's been, doing OK.
Stan: Yeah, same thing. Nothing's changed. I'm getting more ass than a toilet seat and Axel here; he's getting fatter than ever.
Michael: Here's to Nick.
Steven: [whispering] To Nick.
[All]: To Nick.