Skip to main content
The Deer Hunter Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

The Deer Hunter

(1978)
R In Theaters 12/8/1978 , 183min.
Share this movie on

Plot & Details

One of several 1978 films dealing with the Vietnam War (including Hal Ashby's Oscar-winning Coming Home), Michael Cimino's epic second feature The Deer Hunter was both renowned for its tough portrayal of the war's effect on American working class steel workers and notorious for its ahistorical use of Russian roulette in the Vietnam sequences. Structured in five sections contrasting home and war, the film opens in Clairton, PA, as Mike (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken), and Stan (John Cazale, in his last film) celebrate the wedding of their friend Steve (John Savage) and go on a final deer hunt before the men leave for Vietnam. Mike treats hunting as a test of skill, lecturing Stan about the value of "one shot" deer slaying and brushing off Nick's urgings to appreciate nature's beauty. As Mike ruminates post-hunt, the film cuts to the horror of Vietnam, where the men are captured by Vietcong soldiers who force Mike and Nick to play Russian roulette for the V.C.'s amusement. Mike turns the game to his advantage so they can escape captivity, but the men are permanently scarred by the episode. Steve loses his legs; Nick vanishes in the Saigon Russian roulette parlors. Mike returns alone to Clairton a changed man, as he rejects the killing of the deer hunt and finds solace with Nick's old girlfriend Linda (Meryl Streep). Disgusted by the antics of his male cohorts at home, Mike decides to bring Steve back from a veterans' hospital, and he returns to Saigon to find Nick. As Saigon falls, Mike discovers how far gone Nick is; the survivors gather in Clairton for a funeral breakfast, singing an impromptu rendition of "God Bless America."

Awards

Academy Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Director Michael Cimino Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Supporting Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Deric Washburn Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Peter Zinner Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Michael Deeley Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Wiliam L. McCaughey Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Michael Cimino Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Michael Cimino Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Richard Portman Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Louis Garfinkle Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Actor Robert De Niro Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Supporting Actor Christopher Walken Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Quinn K. Redeker Nominated
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Barry Spikings Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Aaron Rochin Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture John Peverall Won
1978 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Darin Knight Won

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Peter Zinner Won
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond Won
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Michael Cimino Nominated

Golden Globes

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Robert De Niro Nominated
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Picture - Drama Nominated
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Screenplay Deric Washburn Nominated
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Christopher Walken Nominated
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Director Michael Cimino Won
1978 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Meryl Streep Nominated

American Film Institute

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1998 American Film Institute 100 Greatest American Movies Won

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Editing Peter Zinner Won
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond Won
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Michael Cimino Nominated

Directors Guild of America

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1978 Directors Guild of America Best Director Michael Cimino Won

Library of Congress

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1996 Library of Congress U.S. National Film Registry Won

Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Director Michael Cimino Won

National Society of Film Critics

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1978 National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actress Meryl Streep Won

Stay Connected with Moviefone

My Settings

You are currently subscribed as: {email}


Subscriptions

Get the latest reviews, movie news, photos, and trailers sent straight to your inbox.

Weekly Newsletter

Daily alerts

Movies

You're not following any movies.

These are the movies you’re currently following.


    Update settings
    X