Prime Video movie of the day: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken are astonishing in The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Deer Hunter is the kind of movie that garners one-word reviews – words such as "devastating". It's a Vietnam war movie, but couldn't be further from the gung-ho tone of so many war films. This was the late seventies, long before the more anti-war era of movies such as Platoon, making The Deer Hunter very different to its peers. 

It shows what war does to people both physically and psychologically, and it features stunning performances by Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken. The film won five Oscars and is rightly regarded as a 70s cinema classic – and you can stream it on Prime Video this weekend. 

An important movie that's a bit too long

This is "a film to be debated and argued over seriously because it is an earnest, serious and impressive work, despite the reservations it is necessary to have about it," wrote the LA Times. "In a thin and evasive year, The Deer Hunter joins a thin company that aspire to greatness."

New York magazine praised it too: "This movie has qualities that we almost never see any more – range and power and breadth of experience, all fully sustained throughout three hours of film that leave us exhausted and satisfied by the end." 

The film isn't perfect, however. Like many movies of the era that set out to be important, it's too long and the structure is a bit rickety. As Vogue's Rex Reed put it: "it should've been twice as harrowing in half the time." But for reviewers such as Newsweek, the quality of the story and of the performances more than compensated for the too-long running time. "The Deer Hunter is a film of great courage and overwhelming emotional power, a fiercely loving embrace of life in a death-ridden time."

The Boston Globe sums it up best with: "It's a film of excesses, some of which succeed admirably and others of which fail spectacularly. But the excesses are what make this a distinctive film. Its obsessiveness is riveting."

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.