What made The Deer Hunter special was how Cimino showed the impact of the Vietnam War on a community. In this case Slavic-American. For those looking for a conventional “war movie” I imagine it was disappointing. After all, he spent over an hour on the events leading up the wedding.
“Averill (an historical figure by the way) only made his “decision” in the movie at the very end, after much ambivalence. I guess he hoped he could continue to forestall the inevitable until he finally saw it was no longer possible.”
now that i agree with. he took far too long to take a stand, and that, i guess, is the tragedy, but it was clear from early on what side of the fence he was on and for me personally it had little to no impact.
The Sicilian was a horrible film IMO. on every conceivable level. ‘The Sunchaser’ with Woody Harrelson had its moments but it fell apart in the final reel. because too melodramatic and preachy for my taste.
Cimino reputation is almost solely based on The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate. Nobody really talks about his other films, although ‘Year Of The Dragon’ has a cult following.
I own Deer Hunter and Year of the Dragon, liking Deer Hunter a great deal more.
What I liked about Deer Hunter was the relationships and the quiet tone of America opposed t o the harshness of Vietnam.
I liked Year of the Dragon, but felt that Mickey Rourke was poorly cast in the lead role and John Lone lacked enough power for his role.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is probably his second most successful film.
I haven’t yet taken the time to see Heaven’s Gate.
I didn’t bother with The Sicilian or The Sunchaser. Cimino seems to have gone off the deep end, judging by appearances. Yes, his reputation pretty much comes down to two movies, both of which I find fascinating to watch many years afterward.
Can’t remember if it was Walken or De Niro who recommended Meryl Streep to Cimino for the role of Linda in The Deer Hunter. I thought Isabelle Huppert for the role of Ella in Heaven’s Gate was a pretty inspired choice as well.
Okay, bought Heaven’s Gate and about to put it in the DVD player…
I liked the film, but it does not succeed because it takes too long to get where it needs to go. Cimino set up the love story well, but then lingered on it, and then lingered some more. The editing was near atrocious with cuts coming too soon or too late, the film lacked rhythm and became frustrating. And Huppert seemed uncomfortable and here line readings lacked emotion. The film is not the catastrophe it was said to be, but need a surer hand in the director’s chair and in the editing room.
So, a Criterion release, but looking at the special features, it kinda looks like they missed an opportunity to dig deep into the aftermath of what this film did to Hollywood and the artistic freedom of directors.
^ Yeah… I wonder if they’re gonna add some more extras to it… especially since it’s on two discs!
will I buy it? Maybe, I have the previous release, but the image is the thing with the film, so if they are cleaning up the image, it may be worth the high price
If that’s the most interesting thing about the film then, given the mission statement, they probably shouldn’t be releasing it in the first place. I can certainly understand their desire to underplay that aspect. After all, it’s the one thing that most people know about that film.
you can do both, display the film in the best light, and still shine the light on the controversial aspects, and with a Criterion release, it seems like the perfect time to do so.
Matt – yeah, I see what you’re saying, but I would at least like to hear more about all the crazy things mentioned by the wikipedia article. If he shot all that footage, surely there’s some interesting behind-the-scenes stuff, right?
It’s the elephant in the room and, if there’s really a case to be made for reassessment, ignoring that elephant will only weaken the case.
Sure. And I’m sure it’s addressed in the Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan’s essay (and I’d be surprised if it’s not at least touched on in the director interview and probably especially with the interview with the second AD. But it’s not the story you want to lead with. They weren’t going to commission a documentary “Heaven’s Gate: Biggest Bomb Evah”.
Final Cut was made into a documentary, but any documentary should not paint Heaven’s Gate as a bomb, but paint the picture of how corporate ownership of the studios changed the way films to were made — which was the case.
The era of the film brat was over, and huge corporations ran things.
One of the best films ever made. That is all.
Not really, but differing opinions are good
Yes really, and different opinions are good.
Gotta agree with “Not really.”
Really strong opinions are often better when backed up by substantive arguments, especially when going against long held conventional wisdom (which is often wrong, but still must be addressed.)
I haven’t the time right now for “substantive arguments” (and I’m not trying to start anything, I know most people don’t agree). I quote a former instructor of mine (and one of the smartest most knowledgeable film scholars I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to). “Forgot the hype about it loosing money (and the butchered shorter edit) this is very good: grim, bleak, and revisionist to the core, it’s one of the most damning anti-Westerns ever made.”
If I can find the time, I’ll try and elucidate more.
from higher on this page…
“I liked the film, but it does not succeed because it takes too long to get where it needs to go. Cimino set up the love story well, but then lingered on it, and then lingered some more. The editing was near atrocious with cuts coming too soon or too late, the film lacked rhythm and became frustrating. And Huppert seemed uncomfortable and here line readings lacked emotion. The film is not the catastrophe it was said to be, but need a surer hand in the director’s chair and in the editing room.”
And I’ll add that I thought Kristofferson worked well for his role, but they should not have done the opening at college if he was the guy, he looked 42. And if you’re going for the grim reality of the age — which i thought was captured well — you can’t start by having an audience suspend belief enough to think that this guy is just graduating Harvard.
And I’ll agree that the studio’s fiddling in editing did nothing to help the film, but even Cimino’s cut is poorly edited, as I stated above.
The film is a grand failure with epic scope and great beauty.
Like if Sergio Leone was less talented.
Although, I’ll grant Cimino his vision of a literary film, which included a broader scope of storyline and arc than most other pictures. That being said “grand failure with epic scope and great beauty” ’bout sums it up.
One of the great films of all cinema.
A film of this quality and length; and finally being restored.
I wish there were a director commentary, or something, but I will pay the 40 dollars just to get a version than has good audio and isn’t dark and washed out.
Cimino absolutely deserves to be blamed for what he did to the studio, and to filmmaking in general; but the film speaks for itself.
Sounds like a nice box set including a booklet and extra features on the Johnson County War which inspired the film. I was surprised again to read all the negative comments up front, including those of one of our resident film critics David Ehrenstein. This was a film that was clearly not judged on its own terms, but rather the conventions of a Western film. It was an anti-Western in just about every way, lashing out against the early syndicates that controlled the cattle industry in the West, but I thought did so in a very humanistic way by taking the point of view of the Eastern European immigrants. In that sense it was a Labour film, which I suppose is why it garnered much more favorable reviews abroad than it did in the US.
As I commented upstream UA did it to themselves by trying to ride Cimino’s critical success in The Deer Hunter. Cimino wanted to make his film, not the studio’s film, which is perfectly within his rights. If UA wanted to control him they should have brought in Clint Eastwood. He seemed to know how to manage Cimino on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
“. If UA wanted to control him:
Nah, they should have just imposed a strict production schedule on him like they did after he had already spent over 20 million dollars. By then it was already too late though.
His vision, their schedule. that’s how it should have been from the outset.
As for Heaven’s Gate destroying New Hollywood, yes, i guess it did, but it would have happened eventually. The studios were just looking for an excuse, a scapegoat, and it could have been any one of the costly epics made in the late 70’s/early 80’s. e.g Apocalypse Now, Reds etc. Cimino just lucked out.
But the fact remains, he could have brought the film in on less than half the end budget if he wasn’t so excessive.
Does it really matter in retrospect? The film stands out over much of what was made during that time, having weathered the initial harsh American critical reception. HG is no more excessive than much of what we see today. It just didn’t have great commercial appeal.
I think it does matter because of the pure amount of crap that came out in the 80s, whereas the 70s were incredibly strong.
And again, while the cinematography is beautiful, the editing weighs the film down.
I just watched it for the first time last night. I didn’t much care for it. It was the back and forth about it that has been going on here that made me interested. And I’m not one to take someone’s bad idea of the film and carry it on as my own, if I did that, I probably wouldn’t like any movie. But anyways, I was optimistic about the experience.
I’m no stranger to epic films. One of my favorite films is Heimat and that topples HG 16 times over. But it’s not the length of the film I had a problem with, it’s the scenes. The scenes are just way too long and often I’d forget what the scene was about. It didn’t help me that everything else was significantly louder than the dialogue so I’m sure I missed out on some key things. I will be interested in checking it out again to see if the audio has improved much or at least watch with subtitles.
I really like all the actors in the film, especially Kristofferson, but damn, none of them were all that great.