Why no Deer Hunters from Iraq or Afghanistan?

Ari Siletz
by Ari Siletz


Listening to Stanley Meyers' Cavatina from the post Vietnam era movie Deer Hunter, I wondered why art depicting the Iraq or Afghanistan wars lack the powerfully meditative tone of the Cavatina.  Is it because Americans are no longer allowed to see their dead soldiers and the destroyed family lives?  As these wars quietly kill, just as quietly the censorship wipes away the American soul. 


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Yes Ari

by HHH on

You're exactly right about "Censorship wiping away the American soul".

I noticed that also and one more thing, the US media started adding violent, anti-family shows  & sports around early to mid 1990s, Fox channel being the leader, and now TruTV. It feels as if they're getting American minds ready for a cruel attack on an innocent someone or some nations. We are witnessing the first 30 years of their attacks and seems like there are more to come specially if Republicans take over. Not that Democrats are any different but at least, on the outside, they pretend to hate war. On the inside, Hillary says "We'll annihilate Iran if....".

Ari Siletz

Zara, will follow up on recommendations. .

by Ari Siletz on

   Waltz With Bashir was haunting. Haven't seen Four Lions or Tank. Will follow up. Interesting that you point out  introspective war films coming out of Israel, Oren Moverman director of The Messenger is also Israeli.


Four Lions!!!

by Zara on

Okay, it's not exactly meditative, but it's brilliant and definitely one for our time.  Maybe outrageously black humor is a wiser response to what's happening now.  Also, perhaps it's not surprising that the most powerfully self-reflective war films recently are coming out of Israel -- see Waltz with Bashir or Tank.

Ari Siletz

Zara, true about delayed reaction.

by Ari Siletz on

Ignoring The Green Berets and a few others like it (quite justifably) Deer Hunter was the first Vietnam film to hit the spot with Americans.

I've heard  The Messenger is a pretty good Iraq movie. Haven't seen it yet maybe becaue my favorite reviewer Roger Ebert while positive about The Messenger merely said that the film doesn't overdo the tearjerking. Compare with what he said about Deer Hunter:  "...one of the most emotionally shattering films ever made."  "The game of Russian roulette becomes the organizing symbol of the film: Anything you can believe about the game, about its deliberately random violence, about how It touches the sanity of men forced to play it, will apply to the war as a whole. It is a brilliant symbol because, in the context of this story, it makes any ideological statement about the war superfluous." Obviously the latter film affected this insightful critic much more deeply.


delayed reactions

by Zara on

Ari, when The Deer Hunter first came out, the talk at the time was about how long it had taken for any film on Vietnam to surface--and not so much whether the audience was ready, but as if artists needed to process the subject slowly.  What's interesting is how media has shifted and stuff pours onto YouTube and films get made in the blink of an eye, with more gut-level response than reflection.  And maybe it has something to do also with how long this war has lasted.

Anahid Hojjati

Dear Ari, it is not just movies about war and it is not just US

by Anahid Hojjati on

Dear Ari, thanks for a thought provoking blog. When I first came to US, talk shows discussed serious issues like nuclear disarmament and other political issues on a semi regular basis.  I see a kind of Americans becoming more interested in entertainment and light type of news . Back then, just about now (near holidays), there would be many serious movies or at least non commercial ones. It is just a more commercial society. But then, it is the same about Iran. Iran during late 70s and early 80s saw more of population thinking about politics and being engaged in it. Yes, last year, we had green movement but nowadays, compared to 30 years ago, from what I hear and read, Iran is a more shallow society too. So as you say, maybe censorship is wiping away at American society just as worse type of censorship in Iran, has done to Iranians.


Pssst, let's talk about this in a few years

by Monda on

shall we? 

Ari Siletz

Valley of Elah

by Ari Siletz on

Darius: Saw Elah when it first came out. Terrific actors and the best screenplay to come out of the US Middle East wars. Thoughtfully anti-war because it deals with the human cost of these wars on US soil. No Deer Hunter though--by a long shot.


Bavafa:  I know what you mean about Deer Hunter being hard on you. Almost everyone I have talked to who has seen action in battle or has been through a war (I never have) finds it devastating.

Comrade, Zara:

Good point about mercenary vs. draft. It certainly makes a difference in the tone and angle of war films. Keep in mind though that the US draft ended five years before Deer Hunter was made. The movie has heart becasue it has profound Vietnam era experiences and emotions to work with, emotions that censorship of war news and commentary no longer allow.  It's all in the Cavatina.

Darius Kadivar

Dunno about the Music score but here is another powerful plot

by Darius Kadivar on

In the Valley of Elah - Official Trailer (2007)






Mike Deerfield returns to the U.S. after his tour of duty in Iraq and abruptly goes missing. His father Hank, a spit-and-polish ex-MP from the Vietnam era, goes looking for him. What he finds goes to the heart of American combat experiences in the Iraqi conflict. A probing, powerful, fact-based look at fathers and sonsand at a nation and the young soldiers it sends into battle. Hank's quest lays bare a tangled web of cover-up, murder, mystery and profound revelation about the personal costs of war.



Paul Haggis



Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, Jason Patric, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Jonathan Tucker, Frances Fisher


How else are we going to meet our quota recruits at the highshoo

by Bavafa on

and in regards to the movie itself

I watched this movie for the first time roughly about a year+ after I had finished service and moved from Iran. It was the hardest movie I have ever watched.



Comrade is right about the

by Zara on

Comrade is right about the conscription.  The mood of the Cavatina is not appropriate for mercenaries.


Pssst, soldier to soldier

by comrade on

Simply because it is not a conscripted war, yet. Heroes still needed. Hollywood is for home consumption, more than we think.

Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.