EXT. PENNSYLVANIA STEEL MILL - LIGHT SNOW - DAY
The plant is massive, grime-streaked, squatting in the valley
under five massive stacks, each one trailing a black ribbon
across the winter sky. Fires can be seen flickering through
the windows and long flames weave and dance from the tops of
guyed metal flues. Steam rises in clouds from vents and
chimneys and the sound of it all -- the hissing, the
clanging, the rumbling, the shrieking -- comes faintly, muted
by the falling snow.
In the foreground is a street -- COLUMBINE STREET -- which
inhabits the bottom of a narrow ravine and plunges directly
down the hillside, straight at the mill. Columbine is a sad
looking street, a grim-looking street, a street hanging on by
the skin of its teeth. Dilapidated stores hug the narrow
sidewalks. Battered signs squeak in the wind. Sandwiched
between the stores and scattered on twisting roads along the
hillside are narrow Victorian houses. These houses, which run
to three stories or more in height, all seem on the verge of
toppling over, and undoubtedly would, except that they are
all connected one to another by a mad arrangement of utility
lines which cross and re-cross between them with occasional
aid from a leaning pole.
MUSIC COMES UP -- dissonant, rather frightening music -- as
we watch a car come charging up through the slush on
Columbine Street. As it nears CAMERA the car falters on the
slippery grade and slides out of sight. A figure appears,
huddled against the driving snow. The figure disappears AS
CAMERA HOLDS ON THE STEEL MILL AT THE END OF THE EMPTY
MAIN TITLE COMES UP:
THE DEER HUNTER:
INT. STEEL MILL - DAY
A white-hot ingot shoots out of an ejecting mechanism and
comes ripping down a track. Another ingot follows it, and
another and another and another. The ingots are huge,
trembling with heat, and they come on with a terrifying
UNDER CREDITS we see STEELWORKERS catching the ingots with
tongs and deftly swinging them into troughs. The STEELWORKERS
wear leather aprons and are stripped to the waist. Warped in
heat waves and glistening with sweat they seem like figures
in some hellish ballet. Since they all wear goggles it is
hard to distinguish between them, but there are three, who
are young, who seem to work with particular grace. These are
NICK, SAL and MERLE.
CREDITS END. CAMERA CLOSES ON NICK, SAL AND MERLE. The noise
is deafening, the heat is unbelievable and the ingots come on
with murderous speed. Taking advantage of a slight pause
MERLE jabs NICK and they both make cuckold's horns at SAL.
SAL blushes and waves them off with his hand. MERLE and NICK
make the horns again and now SAL puts both hands on his hips,
gives a thin smile and studies the corner of the shed. MERLE
and NICK begin laughing. SAL can't hold out and he starts
laughing too, but now the ingots begin roaring down the track
again and they all grab their tongs.
INT. GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH - ALTAR - DAY
A very old PRIEST is making preparations for a wedding
ceremony. SAL'S MOTHER hovers around him as he unlocks a
cabinet and takes out white tapers and a golden crown which
will be used in the service. The PRIEST moves with agonizing
slowness and SAL's MOTHER is in the midst of a bad case of
It's all ready? Everything's ready?
Are you sure everything's ready?
Are you positive?
It would snow... Everything's going
to slip. Everything's going to
slide... All the cars are going to
SAL'S MOTHER puts her hand to her mouth and bursts into