Monday, September 24, 2012

Cinema Errata

 I remember seeing this movie the day after Thanksgiving 1978 at the Ritz 5 theatre in Philadelphia. I went with one of my brothers and one of his buddies. The thing I recall most is that when the movie was over and the sold out theater emptied onto the streets pf Philly, everyone was absolutely silent. The movie was so powerful and made such an impact on the audience that no one said a word.
 I have watched "The Deer Hunter" countless time since then. It is still a great movie and the cast was an early round-up of our generations elite actors and actresses. However, each time I have watched it over the last few years I have noticed some anachronisms or technical flaws that I cannot ignore.

First, when the movie begins it is dark outside the Steel Mill in Western PA town where the characters live. The camera then takes us inside the Mill to the end of the shift for Mike, Stan, Stevey,Axel and Nick. They change and leave the mill in early morning light...we thus assume they were on a 12-8 shift. Nick states he is "buying beers this morning" and they head to the bar owned by their buddy John. When  they enter the bar the Eagles/Steelers game is on TV.  It is a breach of continuity and an apparent error to have an NFL game on TV at that time of the morning. Further, Stevey is getting married that evening so chances are it was a Saturday....(pretty rare for Eastern Orthodox Christians to get married on a Sunday)....Sunday was NFL game day of the 60's. So what the Hell were the Eagles doing on TV and what was the director's point here...the only reference to the game is Nick making a silly wager about the Eagles getting past the 50 in the second half.
Now we turn to the fairly sloppy job done by the director and whatever technical advisor he used during the film. Specifically, the deer hunting scenes and content.The movie is titled "The Deer Hunter" for chrissake.First, as they are leaving the plant, Stevey exclaims with surprise " I'm getting married guys are goin' deer huntin' tonite?" If we assume it was a Sunday...NFL Game Day based on the game on TV in the Bar...then  the following day was Monday...the tradtional opening day for Deer Season in Penna. Forgetting the fact that NO hunter in PA in his right mind would schedule a wedding to conflict with the sacred eve of opening man in a rural PA town would question the fact that his boys were going hunting or seem surprised since he knows these guys are deer hunters and one assumes he is a hunter as well.

Next, we have the rather absurd costumes worn by the hunters. Nick goes hunting with a fur cap....potential suicide in the dim dawn light of the PA woods during deer season. The guys head could look like a deer's ass to a hunter a hundred yards away...and BANG...we do not have to wait for Nicky's self administered bullet in the head later in the film. No hunter wears a fur cap to deer hunt....ever. To add to the lack of realism, Nick has a reflective driveway or bumper badge pinned to his hat. Any deer within one thousand yards of Nicky and his rifle would bolt upon seeing some early morning light reflecting off that button...simply and absurdly unrealistic.Nick wears NO orange for safety. Mike does wear an orange attempt to add realism to a big game hunting scene in the Northeast....but it is a dull orange...not "thousand yard" cloth which can be seen by fellow hunters and be the difference between a safe hunt and a .30-.30 bullet in the chest. Lastly, when Nick and Mike leave the cabin to hunt, it is quite light out. Deer hunters usually if not always leave for the hunt before sunrise so as to be in position when dawn breaks and the deer start to move. Given how great this movie is...I just wish they had a technical advisor who had some clue about deer hunting  in Pennsylvania...small details...but they become increasingly annoying with each screening of the film. Maybe I am being too analytical and need to, as William Hurt said in "The Big Chill"...let the art flow over me.


JMW said...

Yes, I see where you're coming from - it's like a number of films that are set in the South, but Hollywood always pushes these ridiculous accents down our throats. I can't enjoy the film as much because it seems less-authentic to me. Many of your points are spot-on. If someone is going to that much trouble to make such a great film, go a little extra and shoot for flawless.

Brohammas said...

It never fails that iin a sports movie I love there will be a scene where in the huddle they call a veer then immediately go run a pass play. There will also be a play where a key character will run down the field and block like five people... which never happens in real life.

This post makes me hungry for venison jerky.

Anonymous said...

There are bigger problems in the world. Relax and enjoy life so you don't have a heartattack.