I’ve wanted to look at this again, partially but not only because I’ve been thinking so much about the after-effects of combat. Still, I kept putting it off, remembering it as a three-hour meat grinder of the soul. And it is that. But it’s also fresh as a daisy.
“They don’t make ’em like they used to.” I hate that kind of facile sentiment. But this movie is solid evidence for it. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary film with a ensemble cast of such a caliber, a frame of reference of such scope, and crucially, above all, such incredible patience. Cimino famously melted down after this picture, but none of that can ever mar his achievement here. He lets each scene play out to its conclusion, whether it takes place on a battlefield in Asia or in a grocery store in Pennsylvania, and every scene matters.
Those raised on a irony-rich diet are saying about now “Oy, come on, this thing is tur-GID to the max.” To which I say yes, and God bless America.
Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale, George Dzundza. It’s beautiful and excellent. I’d put it up there with The Godfather and Badlands, for real. Have a cup of coffee after dinner and go there.