10 Most Important War Films Ever Made
9. The Deer Hunter
From explicit propaganda, to tragic romances such as Casablanca, to surprisingly zany comedies, to goofy sci fi stories such as They Saved Hitler's Brain, it's fair to say World War II movies came in all shapes and sizes.
But as the US invasion of Vietnam dragged on and racked up an increasingly horrific and hard to ignore civilian body count, the sort of films which the conflict produced remained either propaganda so obvious it proved ineffective, such as the embarrassing John Wayne vehicle The Green Berets, or allegories so veiled they went over the heads of many viewers (pay close attention to the plot of The Magnificent Seven on a re-watch).
That changed irrevocably with the release of Heaven's Gate director Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter in 1979.
By opening with its famous wedding sequence wherein the characters carouse and celebrate for hours of screen time, the film humanized the generation of bright, ambitious young people being sent to the slaughter in Saigon.
As its characters returned broken and brutalized, Cimino’s masterpiece brought the horror of war-torn Vietnam home to suburban America and changed the face of conflict onscreen. Now the horrors of war dwelled in America's bedrooms, in its shattered domestic sphere and broken families.