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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 16
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada • Page 16

The Gazettei
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

is a wav of life s5 1S The GAZETTE. Montreal, Saturday, March 17, 1979 'j FILM Deer Hunter violence THE DEER HUNTER Place du Canada A Univaraal film; produced and diractad by Mtchaat Cimino; ttory by Mtchaal Cimtno. Ottc Washburn, Louta Garlmkta and Oumn K. Radahar, acraanplay by Dariq Waahburn; photography fercted by Vitrooa Zatgmond; tarrm9 Robart Oa Niro. John Caiai.

John Savaga. Mary! Straap. Chrtatophar Walk an. V-v SHOW Vi Tn i 1 i- IMiSiBSiiM ft 11c By DAVE CHENOWETH of The Gazette It's called Russian roulette. You take a revolver.

You put a bullet in a single chamber. You spin the cylinder. You place the gun to your head. You pull the trigger. Either there is an empty click, a hollow redemption signifying life, of a sort or else there is an explosion of blood, bone and brain.

To some, bred to a world where macho ritual replaces life, Russian roulette is an adventure a triumphant celebration of courage. But this is an illusion straight from hell. The game is random, reducing life and death to a question of odds, without content or value to distinguish the two. This is the central image of The Deer Hunter, a film of excruciating power, where images of American life and the inferno of Vietnam are rhymed in a chaotic kaleidescope of anguish and ennui. It presents an America where a covering of rite and ritual conceals a moral wasteland, a world that ends with both a bang and a whimper.

Yet, if the execution of The Deer Hunter has aspects of greatness it should win the best-film Oscar, and is worth the $5 admission for its three-hour viewing time there is a souless quality to it. Director Michael Cimino seems to be a victim of despair, caught in presenting a vision of unrelenting anguish that almost revels in the moral emptiness it examines. Perhaps the film does not deserve such a condemnation, for there is graphic truth in its statements. The Deer Hunter sees the Vietnam debacle as the outgrowth of a national psyche where unthinking violence has become as natural as a pregnant bride. It is a culture whose members are disconnected from the content of their lives, seeking structure and affirmation within rituals they can neither understand nor articulate, rituals within which they mer'eiy participate.

The film opens- in a small Pennsylvania steel town, focusing upon five young men, all second generation Ht'ssian immigrants. They are drinking buddies, hunting buddies, carousing buddies revelling in a game of "chicken" between car and truck, drinking and dancing as members of a wedding party where a choir sings "Praise be, a Virgin is Here" for a pregnant brjde. Counterpointed with the wedding is a hunting party, a last gathering for the five before three of them leave for Vietnam. Against a background of swelling mountains and cloud, and a swelling choir singing hosannas, the Discreet peccadillos Robert De Niro, the steelworker who likes hunting. Meryl Streep is a member of wedding party.

It is Michael who saves the three, taunting his captors into letting him play against buddy Stan (John Cazale) with three bullets in the chamber. He gambles that the two can survive, giving him a chance to turn the weapon on his captors in a bath of blood devoid of nobility, dedicated totally to terrified survival. The hollow rituals of home-town life have now been replaced with a ritual- that does have meaning one of death. As the film progresses, the three buddies become disconnected, each a different victim of his experience. Stan becomes a double amputee, hiding in a veteran's hospital, playing bingo.

Nick deserts in Saigon, becoming a professional roulette player to amuse cheering gambling Vietnamese in dingy back rooms feeding his heroin habit. Michael returns home, the one who is least there can be no denying that its execution is dazzling in its power, almost to extremes. The performances are consistent and urgent, thrusting themselves against the film's frenzied imagery so as to become fully part of it without becoming false. The camera work is superb, and if Cimino's direction touches upon moments of boredom, it, is to counterpoint the explosions of unreasoning action. If Cimino had tried to cram less into the film, if he had not devoted scene upon scene to hammering home his vision for which he has no frame, he might have been forced to grapple with the very nature of the problem.

Great art doesn't just accept hell, or explore it, or merely understand it it attempts to transmute it, to go beyond it. Cimino leaves us ired in the slag, burned but never molded into something new. leader of the three, Michael (Robert De Niro). stalks his deer and dispatches it with a single shot. He is the Deer Hunter, the grandchild of James Fenimore Cooper's The Dear Stalker, a man who knows Indian legend and the rituals of noble pursuit that a deer must be taken with a single shot.

He is the modern western hero still inarticulate, almost sexless pursuing the old rites without understanding. Without a moment's pause, the film glides into a fire-fight in a Vietnamese village, and then to the three buddies as captives of a band of Vietcong. The Vietcong force their captives into a game of Russian roulette, while other captives lie submerged waht-deep in riverbed pens, as rats crawl over bound arms and heads. touched and yet the one who is most touched. His old values have disintegrated now he cannot kill the deer on a hunt but there are no replacements, no growth, not even understanding.

Even his attempt to rescue Nick explodes into a final game of roulette, spiralling into a new gamble of death that mocks the game they played to escape from their captors and this time there is no escape. Throughout the film, the camera makes gripping, frightening linkages between the life of its heroes and the inferno of the Vietnam war: A fiery steel mill becomes a blazing village, an exodus of stunned refugees becomes an exodus of workers, their shifts finished. If I challenge the underlying hollowness of the film which may only be challenging the underlying hollowness of American life FOR ALL Sexy life only for the screen alia Today, only handful cf people know what 'The China Syndrome" Soon you will know. If' I school that set my standards when 1 was very young. People seem to understand I'm a fanuiy man." Leading men commonly are assailed by adoring and aggressive females, many of them young and attractive.

Hotel keys, love notes and verbal invitations are pressed on them. Segal said he is an exception. don't get many notes." he laughed. 'Maybe once in a while I'll find one in a jacket pocket But women don't throw themselves at me because I don't encourage it. Mrs.

Segal is top-flight film editor Marion Sobol. She and George are the parents of Elizabeth, 16, and Polly. 13, the only other women in George's life. reputations as lovers with their personal lives The temptation is great to establish their prowess with ladies off-screen, as documented over the years from John Barrymore to Erro! Fhnn. Segal has no such reputation.

He leaves his sexy ways and extra-marital adventures on the screen and walks away from them. "When you put the make up on, you can be flamboyant," he said, grinning. "When you take the'makeup off, the flamboyance disappears, too. "As an actor, you have to find the line between reality and movie make-believe. Everyone is drawn into the star rush when they first enjoy some success.

But I come from a Quaker background and A Quaker HOLLYWOOD (UPI) -George Segal, married 22 years, reflected on the title of his new movie, The Last Married Couple in America, and reckoned that wedded bliss in Hollywood is a solid institution. Segal, undisputed king of romantic comedies for the past decade, has played raffish middle class married men better than anyone else. He manages to put a twinkle in his eyes when there are seductive and willing ladies in a scene. Few actors make as convincing a roue or play the husband with a penchant for discreet peccadillos with greater verve. Early in his career he played the college professor who seduced or was seduced by Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? So convincing was George that he won an Academy Award nomination for the role.

In Blume in Love George was caught by his wife (Susan Anspach) in the family love bower with his secretary. The result was instant marital disaster. His flair for romantic comedy and an understated but GEORGE SEGAL Folk hero to women effective sex appeal was clearly defined in Trie Owl and the Pussycat and reached classic proportions in A Touch of Class with Glenda Jackson. More recently, he found himself in bed with Jacqueline Bisset in Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe. He proved once more that a light, comedic touch with the ladies is a more reliable route to the bedroom than time-honored macho tactics.

In The Last Married Couple in America George plays Natalie Wood's husband and once again he is fooling around this time with Valerie Harper. Historically, leading men tend to confuse their screen z-: -v i rid j4X --v-'- J. i J1? jwwviwwvW 1 5MS rainmH 1X fali ffWff v.mti 10 00. 12.35.3 2S mm EXPCSIM OF HOIl? i 5J CAIMHIN US 7000 IP! STARTS FRIDAY MARCH 23rd DtCARif SOUTH OF JE AISi TALON 341 3190 FREE SICE PARKING I METRO LEVEL 935-4246 Ei 10.00,12.35,3.10,3.50,8.25.

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