Deer Hunter, The

WSR Score5
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Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Michael Cimino
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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The Deer Hunter received five Academy Awards® in 1978 for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), Editing, and Sound. It tells the painful story of a group of Pennsylvanian steelworkers (De Niro, Savage, and Walken) and their lives before, during, and after the Vietnam War. The Deer Hunter is a searing drama about friendship and courage; and what happens to these qualities during the agonizing time of war. It is one of the most emotionally shattering films ever made. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and Film Journalist Bob Fisher, deleted and extended scenes (SD 16:57), the theatrical trailer, 100 Years Of Universal: Academy Award® Winners (HD 09:35), BD-Live functionality, and up-front ads. Included in the set is a DVD and a Blu-ray Disc™.

Previously reviewed in Issue 118, the VC-1-encoded 2.25:1 HD DVD picture was well resolved, with impressively well-rendered details. Colors were vibrant, and black levels were deep. Shadow delineation was good, and the imagery had great depth and dimensionality. The source element was cleaned up well, but specks of dirt and dust could still be seen at times. This new 2.35:1 Blu-ray Disc release, also VC-1-encoded, is the second Universal release in the 100th Anniversary series (with no Main Menu). To access the Set Up and Extras menu requires pressing the Pop Up Menu button on the remote. Vilmos Zsigmond, the Hungarian cinematographer, has filmed a masterpiece of classic cinema, with its captivating filmic grain and visually engaging contrast. The Blu-ray looks fantastically natural, with a stark realism that is ageless. Colors are wonderfully saturated with rich and vibrant hues. Fleshtones are naturally toned throughout. Contrast is well balanced with deep, solid blacks and revealing shadow delineation. This is an incredible cinematic experience that really communicates the lives of young Americans before, during, and after the Vietnam War. The picture quality will not disappoint. (Gary Reber)

The previous HD DVD's Dolby® Digital Plus 5.1-channel encoding was limited by the age of the original recording. Dialogue often sounded spatially incongruent, phase errors were noticeable, and sparkly distortion could be heard frequently in the effects. This new remastered DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack still has the same problems but sounds impressively detailed and enveloping. Deep bass is applied effectively in the .1 LFE channel during key segments, which enhances the sense of shock. Ambiant atmospherics are nicely produced with a surround presence that enhances the realism of the dimensionalized soundfield at every stage of the storytelling. This is a wonderful holosonic® soundfield experience, though, fidelity does sound dated and at times distorted. (Gary Reber)