In the movie, The Deer Hunter, how is political strife, religious conflict, human suffering, and human triumph showed during the film?In depth analysis of each topic.  If it is not present in the...

In the movie, The Deer Hunter, how is political strife, religious conflict, human suffering, and human triumph showed during the film?

In depth analysis of each topic.  If it is not present in the movie, then it is not needed.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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POLITICAL STRIFE.  Obviously, the upheaval in Vietnam is the most glaring example. The story begins in 1968, when the trio ship off to war; and concludes in 1974, when Michael brings Nick's body back for burial. Much has changed in both Vietnam and America. A war that seemed so winnable in '68 is now an obviously lost cause in '74. Vietnam is about to be overrun by the Viet Cong, and Michael returns home to a nation that pities instead of celebrates its returning veterans. Additional aspects include life of the Russian-Americans in a steel mill town; more conservative than many U.S. locales, Clairton welcomes its returning soldiers, and the film ends with the singing of "God Bless America." 

RELIGIOUS CONFLICT.  All of the primary characters are Russian-Americans working in the steel mill town of Clairton, Pennsylvania. The elaborate wedding ceremony in the Russian Orthodox Church and the following reception (at a local VFW) serves as a prologue to the film, a long (51 minute) series of scenes that illustrate the two rites of passage: Steve's wedding and the trio's final days before shipping off to Vietnam. It is both a real and symbolic example of the act of love and the horrors war that will soon follow.

HUMAN SUFFERING.  The games of Russian roulette are among cinema's most memorable scenes. The horrors of war, the atrocities commited by the Viet Cong, and the American hospitals that house the crippled vets are all examples. Nick and Steve suffer different types of mental problems, and Linda has to deal with her own type of suffering: waiting for Nick to return while falling in love with Michael.

HUMAN CONFLICT.  Michael's conquest of the deer is symbolic of many things in the film. A deer, unlike a man, must be hunted in a spiritual fashion; and some deer, like the magnificent buck that Michael refuses to kill, are worthy of survival. The opposite of this is seen in the Russian roulette scenes where human life is expendable and survival is by mere chance. There are many conflicts which face the characters. Michael must decide whether or not to leave Steve behind after they escape from the Viet Cong river cages. He must decide whether to return to Saigon to look for Nick, and later, whether to play him in the deadly game of Russian roulette. Steve must decide how to cope with life following his return as a paraplegic. Nick, through his drug-clouded haze, must decide whether to live or die by his own hand. Linda, too, has to decide between her obligation to Nick and her love for Michael.

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