Of course the performances are amazing; DeNiro, Walken, and a low key but brilliant Meryl Streep early in their careers, always solid. But there are so many performances that are smaller, but just as powerful. Like John Cazale as hothead Stanley and George Dzundza, as the sensitive yet goofy friend John. But my favorite performance is that of John Savage, an actor who is rarely seen anymore. Going from joyous (getting married), to completely loosing his sanity (captured and tortured), to withdrawing from everyone (refusing to leave the hospital) is the best work in the film. It is inspired and riveting to watch. The movie may be long and depressing to some, but if you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out. (And if you’re a film fanatic and have never seen it, shoot yourself in the head!)
Commentary (with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and film journalist Bob Fisher):First off, whenever I don’t see a director or any of the actors on a commentary, I smell trouble. In this case the two commentators are Zsigmond and Fisher, the latter whom just asks questions. But being just a cinematographer, Zsigmond has little insight (“great director, great actors, real cabin”) into the dynamics of the actual film. (My film fanatic father has more interesting stories on this film than old Zsigmond does.) He doesn’t even have insight into some camera questions, like why is he shooting at such a low angle? Answer: “Because I’m so short, I don’t know.” But the commentary is heavy with talk of camera and lighting jargen, yeah, just what a fan of the film wants! The good news is that 3 hours of this will cure insomnia. (pauses galore!) In any case, I prefer to hear things from the horses’ mouth, but to no avail, because Director Cimino is nowhere to be found in this conversation.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (16:56):I saw plenty of extended scenes, but look for no deleted scenes here, Universal lied. There is tons more footage of the first russian roulette scene and some extra Christopher Walken and John Savage freak out, but that’s all folks. What a jip!
There are only two other features on this disc, an Original Theatrical Trailer, which is old, grainy, and full of too many critical quotes, and 10 quick pages of Production Notes, that is interesting, but would be nice to hear in person from the people quoted. Are all these extras better then nothing, not likely! Same to you Universal!