A breathtaking depiction of the promise and perils of America’s western expansion, Heaven’s Gate is among Hollywood’s most ambitious and unorthodox epics. When a Harvard graduate relocates to Wyoming as a federal marshal, he learns of a plot to kill the area’s European settlers for their land.
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Magnificent. Just be sure to see the full 3 hour, 48 minute version, not one of the chopped-up butchered cuts. The distributors who butchered this film, not Cimino, are responsible for the ruination of the venerable film company started by Griffith, Chaplin, Pickford and Fairbanks.
Helped and hindered by its sprawling length; a sort of Stockholm syndrome begins to set in at the halfway mark. In terms of atmosphere and authenticity, the film is sublime, and Cimino's slavish devotion shows. Shot almost exclusively in the cool blue movie "magic hour" through a veil of Fuller's Earth Zsigmond blasted into the air with enormous fans, it really is a period photo come to life.
35mm, complete version. What makes me retract a little? The exhibitionism of Zsigmond's cinematography, full of astonishing effects or the character of Hurt doing Shakespeare in the middle of a space created for an epic feat. But it's certainly a rare film in its time, and much more at the present one, for its cinematic dimension bigger than art, for the complexity of mass movements, choreographed by a master camera.
The film that became superfluous with over indulgence and almost brought down a studio, and auteur studio cinema, plays now as a misunderstood and neglected masterpiece. One can forgive the leaden acting and under scripting for the shear brilliance of the technical filmmaking. Zsigmond's cinematography is breathtaking as is the attention to detail in all things. Cimino's best.
This movie got so much shit when it was released and I don't understand why. This is Michael Cimino's masterpiece, and that's saying a lot about the man who also brought us The Deer Hunter. Epics don't get much better or more beautiful than this one.
It didn't deserve its fate, but nothing can magick such leaden line-readings (and leaden lines) into a lost masterpiece. Cimino here cannot convincingly evoke the drama, or comedy, or romance, or vivid characters this Fordian epic aspires to. But ask him to film a plume of smoke, or a landscape, or a dance, or a killing, and you're in heaven. Drop him into the silent era, and he may have been one of the greats.
Top Ten countdown – #1 "It's getting dangerous to be poor in this country." The USA's national epic; its own internal heart of darkness. Cimino's obsessively shot and detailed western offers a somber exploration of the ideology of violence that Lady Columbia marched into the West. Unleashing the full potential of film formalism to create a profound melancholic indictment of the failures of "God's chosen nation."
Cult movie one has to see once in his life. Incredible how Michael Cimino's left-wing ideas fit this unglorious episode of American history. When I see now the walls recently built along the US southern borders, I cannot but sadly smile; the immigrants of yesterday have become the landlords of today. I understand why Heaven's Gate was a lackluster. Recommended.