Folks, sorry to say this, but if you’ve only seen HEAVEN’S GATE on DVD, that dreadful old DVD that isn’t even enhanced for widescreen TVs and is missing some subtitles, then you haven’t seen HEAVEN’S GATE. It’s like saying you’ve seen BRAZIL when you’ve only seen it on VHS on a tiny black and white TV.
I can certainly understand that the film isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of dried leaves in hot water, and there are some problems that even the restoraton can’t fix (the sometimes glacial pacing, for example, can really put people off). Please give the new restoration a shot before you really make up your minds for good.
I watched the one that’s streaming on Netflix right now and I thought it looked great. I’m not one that get picky about details, that is unless it’s something like pan and scan or full screen copies. I liked what I saw, it’s everything that the restoration can’t fix is the problem.
Right, fair enough.
It depends on what you are into. I thought the scenes were beautifully composed, and Cimino went to great lengths to capture them, which is what cost so much at the time. What really carried the film for me was the diffuse and complicated story, such a departure from the traditional western scripts. It was a lot like Coppola’s uncut version of Apocalypse Now in that Cimino had sweeping story arcs that didn’t necessarily resolve themselves, but helped underscore the complexity of the situation.
Sergio Leone’s and Sam Peckinpah’s films were fascinating but they kept the stories relatively simple and relied on music and other devices to connote greater complexity. As cinema, this is obviously more effective, but I don’t think Cimino and Coppola get the credit they deserve for going beyond the traditional story lines in presenting much richer narratives.
Cimino’s first cut was apparently 5+ hours. The Criterion edition looks to be the same as the one currently in circulation at 216 minutes., but with a restored transfer. I think they could have presented different versions like they have done in the past with films like Brazil and Fanny & Alexander..
Would love to see the work print. Generally they aren’t preserved as such, though,and MGM archivist John Kirk indicated several years ago that “the out-takes and large parts of the original negative have been discarded. Cimino shot more than 200 hours of footage, but most of this material is now almost certainly lost, thrown out in the early 1990s when MGM was seeking to save money on storage costs,” so reassembling it would likely be an impossibility.
So I assume that most people who have seen this film have seen Final Cut. I was thinking about watching it tonight, but I guess what I’m looking for is what did people who really like HG get out of the doc? Was there any extra insight to the process that made you appreciate it more?
I thought Final Cut was quite good, criticism pro and con. UA isn’t the first or the last film studio to go bust over a film. I found it amusing that so many people blame Cimino for this, and also to blame for the presumed studio take-over of films. Studios had long controlled the film making process. The 60s and 70s saw some creative freedom, largely because the studios were looking for fresh blood, but the leashes were only as long as the films were made profitable.
The change was less about studios taking over films and more about corporations taking over studios, meaning corporations were taking over films.
I don’t see how anyone can blame Cimino for this. All part of the incorporation of America as presaged in Network.
Cimino’s failure gave them a reason to swoop in and take away control from directors.
Its like the reichstag fire of cinema.
Except that the new paradigm, Jaws, had been in place since 1975, then there was a little thing called Star Wars in ‘77, and, of course, Coppola’s equally disastrous One From the Heart was still two years on the horizon.
yeh but the key difference there was that Coppola financed it himself.
i agree that H.Gate was part of a much bigger picture. even when it was being made bean counters like Alback had influence behind the scenes.
uli’s point about studios vs corporations is important. Even Coppola admitted that in retrospect, after dealing with young accountants that were barely into film while making The Godfather 3, hotheads like Evans werent really that bad, because at least they cared, even if they were often misguided.
Godfather 3 really suffered in my opinion.
I think the self-imposed ratings system started in 1968 and continually modified since then did more to ruin Hollywood than anything else.
Dzimas, but even with that self-imposed ratings system, the 70s were a glorious period, I feel, of American film making. While there are always highs and lows in the quality of films, the 70s saw magnificent highs, while after corporations took over , we saw fewer and fewer great films and more and more middle of the road cookie cutter movies.
1980 was the last hurrah. And Heaven’s Gate nearly killed the chance of Raging Bull even being made.
Oh, and I think, if a corporation were in charge of 20th Century Fox in 75/76, Star Wars never gets made.
“yeh but the key difference there was that Coppola financed it himself.”
Well, sorta. While not one of THE studios, Zoetrope, in its own way, was very much a studio in its own way (just ask Wim Wenders) . . . so this was a very different thing from, you know, Jarmusch at that time (or even now). But the point is that certainly the financial strain caused by *One*’s box office failure ultimately prevented Zoetrope from becoming the sort of auteurist studio for auteurs it was intended to be, so it was yet another possible alternative more or less closed down during that period.
It seems that some directors just don’t learn lessons of the past, did Cimino not know what happened on Cleopatra?
Matt: gotcha, although i think that even if One was a hit, it would have difficult to sustain that model over the long ter. failure just seemed inevitable.
as for 1980 being the last hurrah, perhaps but there were a few personal type films released shortly after, like King Of Comedy, but that flopped too.
at the time Marty was pissed that UA didnt have the money to marketRaging Bull properly but there is no way a film like that could.have done great business in 1980 given how audience sensibility changed after the.mid 70s.
i would also like to know why they sunk so much money into Heavens Gate(a western) when westerns didnt have the.best track record in the 70s? or am i missing something? Pat.Garrett flopped and even Beattys.star presence was no help to McCabe.
and naturally Blazing Saddles doesnt count btw. heh
They sunk the money into Cimino.
The Deer Hunter was a commercial and critical success, and they were banking on Heaven’s Gate being the same.
They didn’t know that he would lose his mind during filmmaking.
Uli, I’m sure Scorsese would have found a way to make Raging Bull. If nothing else, he would have gotten German or other European financiers as Jarmusch has done for his movies. the 70s is one of those eras that looks good in retrospect because of some of the great directors who rose to the fore during this time, but there were plenty of crappy movies being made, mostly of the “horror” genre.
“. the 70s is one of those eras that looks good in retrospect because of some of the great directors who rose to the fore during this time,”
All that matters are the high points, which are higher than the American ‘highs’ of today. That is all that is needed for a comparison that is perfectly rational and has nothing to do with having rose tinted glasses.
The best of today vs the best of the earl 70s. The rest is noise.
“…there were plenty of crappy movies being made, mostly of the “horror” genre.”
Umm, wasn’t the 70s sort of a golden age in American horror films?
“Matt: gotcha, although i think that even if One was a hit, it would have difficult to sustain that model over the long ter. failure just seemed inevitable.”
Yeah, I basically agree with that . . . although if Zoetrope had been able to keep Lucas under the aegis and making American Graffiti/Star Wars-type films on through the ’80s and ’90s, it might have been possible to diversify the product enough to offset some of the losses.
Yeh perhaps. that certainly would have been ideal. apart from those Jeepers creepers films and the ones made by the Coppola clan, has anything else come out of Zoetrope in the last decade?
kudos to Francis for trying to keep the dream alive, although it certainly doesnt resemble Coppolas original vision.
Yeah, they’ve actually been involved in a somewhat interesting diversity of stuff—Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Hal Hartley’s No Such Thing, Robert Duvall’s Assassination Tango, Bill Condon’s Kinsey, De Niro’s The Good Shepard. No of those are major works, or even the best works by those filmmakers, but they at least indicate a bit of life in the ol’ family business.
The 90s will go down as a pretty good decade for filmmaking, if you only take the best from this time.
Blu-Ray arrived in the mail today