The Deer Hunter… A long movie, and possibly a great one. I can only remember a few things about it:
- It goes for nigh-on 4 hours
- They spend 45 minutes in Vietnam
- Great ending- but it might only be great because it took so long to get to.
I’ve only seen the movie the once. I was waiting for a friend to pick me up, and he was running late so I put it on. He ran so late that I finished the movie before he arrived.
But that’s okay, because otherwise I would have never watched it. The running time is too daunting to put it on the TV unless you are desperate.
Fast forward ten years (maybe even fifteen) and I found myself at another friend’s house. He’s the kind of guy with bookshelves bursting at the seams. Everyone of those books is second-hand, dog-eered, tatty. The shelves are on the way to the toilet (and I only just realized why!) You can’t help but look through them because they are in no order; you might find a book on interpreting dreams sitting next to a violent western, or a bunch of Dean Koontz with a copy of the Bible stuck in the middle. An amazing collection.
And somewhere in there was a copy of The Deer Hunter. I had no idea it was a novel, and I had no idea it was so short!
Naturally, I was intrigued. I asked if I could borrow it.
He said no.
No! I was amazed. No… It was unheard of. I asked again, because maybe he thought I was asking about a different book. “Do you mind if I borrow the Deer Hunter?” I even held up the book so he could see it. No. Why wouldn’t he lend me this book? What was so special about it? I had to find out… I had to ask Mr Google (six months later, I might add.)
So I typed it in, got my result: A novelization by E.M. Corder.
A novelization. The book of the film. I was gutted, and even more intrigued. Why wouldn’t my friend lend me a novelization? They are almost universally garbage, and I should know- I used to buy as many as I could find!
When I was young, our VHS never played tapes very well. If I wanted to watch a movie at home, I had to read it. Over the years, I had:
- Alien 3
- Die Hard: With a Vengeance
- Demoliton Man
- Blown Away (Which I’ve never seen as a movie)
- Maverick (the Mel Gibson one)
- Gremlins II
- Star Wars
- The Empire Strikes Back
- Return of the Jedi
- StarGate (which was an awesome book!)
- Star Trek: Generations
They’re the ones I can remember. No doubt there were more. Some of these books were great, but most were utterly forgettable. But that’s childhood!
Finding out that The Deer Hunter was a novelization was both a let-down and an intriguing niggle. Was it one of the good ones? Was it dreadful? How did they trim down a 4 hour movie into such a slim volume? I had no idea, but I put it out of mind.
Sometime- years later- I found a copy in a jumble sale. It was as close to a dollar as possible, and I had three other books and there was a buy four for $3 deal and I bought it.
But I didn’t read it. I put it on the shelf for at least a year, and I only just picked it up. I had abandoned Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and I was in the mood for something short. I read it in a couple of nights, and I finally had all my answers!
Was it any good? It was… Okay.
Was it worth the wait? No, but at least it is off my to-do list.
How did they make it so short? Turns out the movie is just really slow! They say a picture paints a thousand words, but you don’t need a thousand words to write “Linda cried” which I feel she does quite a bit. In all, I think it took me just as long to read the book as it would to watch it on television.
Would I recommend it? The film, or the movie? I don’t know about either. On a hot summer’s night when it is impossible to sleep and there’s no sport on the TV? Why not! Give both a go.
But this really is one of those cases where it’s not the destination, it’s the journey- and I know I will remember the book just as much as the movie, because the story of the book is about me and a hunt for something truly average.