ERIC Number: ED189658
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Feb
Reference Count: 0
"The Deer Hunter": Rhetoric of the Warrior.
Rushing, Janice Hocker; Frentz, Thomas S.
A psychological/ritual model of criticism is used to examine the movie "The Deer Hunter" as a rhetorical event in which males undergo psychological change through their war and postwar experiences. The critical model depends on understanding a Jungian interpretation of the human psyche, the form and function of initiation rituals, and the psychological changes that are linked to specific attitudes toward rituals. Using this model, the three main male characters in "The Deer Hunter" are observed as they cope with the initiation rituals of marriage, the deer hunt, the war, and the Russian roulette played within the war. The three psychological patterns that occur in the movie's characters are the regressive restoration of Steven's persona, Nick's identification with his unconscious/shadow self, and Michael's individuation ("coming to selfhood"). Although understanding "The Deer Hunter" seems to demand viewing war aesthetically, this viewpoint raises several serious problems, such as the legitimization of war and the warrior-type persona. It is not clear whether the film is rabidly antiwar, whether it merely portrays what war does to people under both sacred and profane experiences, or whether it implicitly advocates personal and societal transcendence through killing. On whatever level one chooses to interpret the film, however, viewing war aesthetically as a universal ritual remains bothersome. Ironically, by bypassing the politics of Vietnam, the film may have unwittingly allied itself with a heinous political ideology--fascism. (RL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Deer Hunter (The)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Portland, OR, February 16-20, 1980).