I agree. Same thing happened to me this evening. Brilliant and powerful picture.
The performances man... the performances are just painfully raw and touching. We are yet to find this level of acting in contemporary cinema (except, perhaps, when Joaquin Phoenix is involved). The '70s not only stripped away convention that liberated filmmakers but ultimately transpired a sense of realism embraced by the performer who started to blur the line between fact and fiction.
Only a genius would remember to use the russian roulette as a metaphor for war in the actual warzone. What some call inaccurate, I call the greatest dramatical depiction of war ever filmed; Through the roulette, Cimino reaches the highest level of war film realism in Cinema, maximizing the viewer's experience of the terror of the soldier's mind - that tenseful yet thin line of chance between life and death. Genius.
I revisited this for the third time this evening, such a stunning picture, wow, it hits you like a rock, so emotionally overpowering.
Cimino, who would destroy Griffith's co-founded United Artists within two years, makes his version of BIRTH OF A NATION. Perpetuating visions of the U.S. in Vietnam it seeks to dismantle, it is nevertheless an audacious film of the American myth, albeit one of Fordian ambiguities, even outright contradictions. There are aspects of it I just can't bring myself to forgive, but I also can't deny it is monumental.
Heaven's Gate and Year of the Dragon are the same way. Cimino plays race and class relations so close to the cuff that people get put off. No one else has played it this close since Ford. Race and class in Cimino are akin to the complexities of THE SEARCHERS or TWO RODE TOGETHER. Every group has a subjective vision of their own, a true rejection of the idea of the melting pot.
The character limit bit me in the ass here. I had to use "Fordian" as a catchall for the film's very complicated approach to 'Nam and race, which can't be summed up in a graf. This viewing really prompted me to try to grapple with the its racial depictions where previously I was content to write off the whole thing. For a film that so routinely skirts irony (the dangling "Welcome Home" sign when Mike comes out from hiding from that welcome, Russian-Americans forced to play Russian roulette, the God Bless America end) but Cimino never takes that easy way out, and indeed he so resolutely roots his classical form in character perspective that I will have to watch it again (and again) to really cement where I stand with the film. If my blurb sounds too caustic (which I think it does), you should know this still represents a BIG reversal from the opinion I previously held, and I think it really might be a masterpiece.
Everyone must have had a joint lobotomy because I cannot understand how this is hailed as a masterpiece. Historically inaccurate,overlong,overblown,sappy. The Vietnamese come as close to reality as does Fu Manchu.And yet we never understand what the americans are doing there in the first place.That's right they're invading the place. And I don't care about mountain hicks being loud and obnoxious.
Such an extreme experience it crushed my deepest nerves and made me cry with an increasing despair. Every single one of its scenes portrayed the After-War Thoughts and Doubts about staying alive as a survivor like any other film I've ever seen. Indeed, powerful and haunting... and hurting. Personally, a revelation in war-cinema, and yes, a fascinanting psychological drama. Another miracle that must be seen.
I swear, if that's how SW Pennsylvania was over 40 years ago, nothing has changed here at all. NOTHING.
It has its flaws, but i'd argue that its gritty depiction of working class life is the most authentic in American cinema. The feeling of community and camaraderie that is ultimately shattered by the war rings totally true at every moment. and that is precisely where the emotional core of the film lies, and ultimately the key to its success. I can take or leave the war scenes.