Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: cigar joe on December 01, 2004, 05:04:06 PM



Title: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on December 01, 2004, 05:04:06 PM
I've only seen small bits and pieces of Cimmino's Heaven's Gate, and my local rental doesn't have it. I remember a roller skating sequence but that's about it. Any of you fellas seen this film?


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KERMIT on December 02, 2004, 01:11:47 AM
I've only seen small bits and pieces of Cimmino's Heaven's Gate, and my local rental doesn't have it. I remember a roller skating sequence but that's about it. Any of you fellas seen this film?
certianly visually spectacular with beautiful sets and incredible scenery.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Belkin on December 02, 2004, 01:38:11 AM
A masterpiece.....especially on the big screen! Beautiful soundtrack! :)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Belkin on January 23, 2005, 02:07:40 PM
Next Saturday, ITV is giving a rare screening of CIMINO'S legendary HEAVEN'S GATE! This is truely a modern masterpiece. Saw it on first release on big screen (several days in a row). An experience I shall never foget. Beautiful soundtrack. CHRIS WALKEN and MICKEY ROURKE are terrific. Last scene is iconic. KRISTOFERSEN is a revelation. If you haven't seen it before, catch it!


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Le Bon on January 23, 2005, 02:44:37 PM
Yes i love this movie. I sadly didn't see it at the cinema like you though.  It was a flop on release and bankrupted the studio...United Artists i believe.  The photography is stunning and has some great set pieces.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: indio on January 25, 2005, 12:54:24 AM
Great i've always wanted to see it, thank you very much for the info.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Smoker on February 12, 2005, 09:11:27 AM
Taped the late night ITV effort. Just finished watching it. There suppose to be some different versions (running lenghts. etc) Morricone's music is mixed to low in recent DVD releases.

13/02/05 Sorry correction: thats Manfield's score not Morricone's.  ::)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on February 13, 2005, 07:10:03 AM
Smoker, how was it?


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Smoker on February 13, 2005, 01:09:29 PM
I’ve always been one to stick up for the underdogs. I’ve read allot about its famous or maybe more infamous history. Bankrupting the studio for one, and Crimino’s Director reputation was damaged.

I viewed it with a sense of morbid curiosity …

Setting is 1890's Wyoming, Powerful cattle men wage war on immigrant settlers from Eastern Europe.
It’s a striking looking film. In the action scenes it’s quite visceral
Closest analogy I can think off (especially interiors) would be ‘if David Lean had he made a Western. Very opulent, fuzzy nostalgic look about it.
That Nostalgic thing is something I picked up in The Deer Hunter. Also Beer, Pool and Friends makes a return in one scene
And of course for all the bad blood you can see United Artists money on the screen, fantastic Sets and costumes. One wonderful shot shows Averill and Isabelle taking a wagon through one of the small immigrant towns, almost tipping the dame thing over at one point well putting it on 2 wheels at least. Was a nod to me of Jill’s journey to Sweetwater ranch from you know what.

Performance-wise, it almost manages to surpass its sumptuous visuals: Kristofferson (who I think was criminally casted or made bad choices in the 70s) and Jeff Bridges (saloon keeper, James H. Bridges) Nate Champion ‘A Mercenary’ (Walken) while John Hurt is unforgettable as the almost permanently blotto William Irvine, all deliver career-highlights. Also Isabelle Huppert (Ella Watson) as a French Hooker. Brad Douriff a favourite if some times hammy charactor actor makes a appearence and Joseph Cotten too.

David Mansfield's score is terrific, specially in the wagon scene i mentioned above.

At points I start to wonder about why a film like this bombed like it did. It’s a very complicated film screenplay wise. Which I think is helped by the home cinema culture we have today for retrospective viewing.
Or maybe it was a sign of the times post Jaws/Star Wars 1980. People didn’t want to sit through 4 hour movies anymore. The ‘quick fix’ was the order of the day. He's a Director who likes to take his time; He spent 20mins on a Wedding ceremony in Deer Hunter if I remember correctly.
It’s a film that didn’t fit a pigeon hole at the time I think.

Crimino must have seen OUATITW at some point in his young career or even Giu La Testa (OUATR) (use of flashbacks & ending). 
Would be interesting to find out if Leone saw this Crimino’s film too, maybe both Directors were raising the bar a couple of inches in a challenge. Heaven’s Gate and OUATIA share something in there nature to me. If not just the suggestion of the ‘merely a dream’ ending.
Maybe I need to watch Leone’s last opus again too... both films were treated as outcast.

Really enjoyed this film. quite a discovery from all that bad business ive read & heard. Its definetly Curos for Leone fans...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on February 14, 2005, 04:31:46 AM
Vilmos Zsigmond did the cinematography so I suspect they might have used "flashing" again like he did with McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Sounds like it should be released on DVD as a curiosity. I've only seen the roller skating sequence. I was out there when they were filming in 1978 or 9 one of the towns used in the filming was the mining town of Wallace, Idaho, famous for the "Molly B Damn" mine and its three whorehouses that were still in operation at the time, one of which was called the "U&I". lol


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Smoker on February 14, 2005, 06:17:14 AM
Did you get to see much evidence of filming while you were out there in Idaho?
Same cinematographer as McCabe & Mrs. Miller, that make alot of sense looking at Heaven's Gate now.

Final Cut : Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven's Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists by Steven Bach available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1557043744/qid=1108389169/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/102-3290660-5122502
Enough story & drama to fill a book  :o
The DVD release.. I had a snoop around last night.
UK Region 2 FOX :207 running time :anamorphic (an amazing 75 cuts made to the cock fight sequence.. basicly what ITV showed i think, and that was in Pan Scan  :-\ )
US Region 1 MGM :219 running time :Letterbox

Havn't heard good things about the quality of the DVD releases. But you can pick these up dirt cheap. Region 1 being the best running time. Which I think i might grab a copy come end of the month.

The NFT are showing Heaven's Gate as apart of there Wild Bunch: Amercian Cinema 1967-1980 season. 2 showings, Oscar weekend, end of the month
http://www.bfi.org.uk/showing/nft/calendar/details.php?title=Heaven%27s%20Gate
Looks like something closer to the Region 1 Print looking at the Running time.  Also states its a restored print so maybe theres a new MGM SE DVD due.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on February 14, 2005, 03:57:59 PM
Thanks for the info.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Blueberry on August 03, 2006, 03:23:15 AM
Restored full version in cinemas, at last, in Denmark.... Yes! I read somwhere that if Visconti or Bertolucci had made it, it would have been hailed as a masterpice... Now, I'm a big "Leopard"-fan, but "1900" sucks, especially the second part - so it'll be fun to see whether or not "Heaven's Gate" will repel me or draw me in. But it stars Kristofferson, who's biggest achievement is in that Sayles-movie (Lone Star?) - so it probably won't. We'll see.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on August 03, 2006, 05:16:51 AM
Yea I'd like to see a version out od DVD to judge too.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Leone Admirer on August 05, 2006, 02:19:13 PM
Saw the restored version in 2005. Very much enjoyed it. About new DVD, I know for a fact that because of this new restoration done, MGM was approached with the idea of releasing an SE with new interviews etc. I believe they started on production and then it was cancelled for thought of lack of interest (maybe based on the people who went to the screenings in the different country). This situation of couse could change if Sony wish to release it to Fox for them to distrib, but thats it Sony want to (I think it would make a great Criterion release though, in a form like their wonderful Brazil or Arkadin boxset releases with a variety of cuts theatrical, international and director's cut).


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on June 03, 2007, 10:17:34 AM
Well, I just saw this movie last night and I have mixed feelings about it.


The first 3 hours of the film IMO were fantastic, especially the scenes at Harvard and in Casper, Wyoming. I thought most of the characters were underdeveloped and 2 dimensional. The final 40 minutes were a let-down. The movie was building up to something more but doesn't deliver and the last 5 minutes on the yacht were so pointless.

Excellent attention to detail and brilliant direction by Michael Cimino, but he pays to much attention to detail and wanders away from the basic elements of film-making such as character development.


I'd give this flawed epic a 3/5.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Tucumcari Bound on June 04, 2007, 12:43:51 AM
I remember seeing most of this awhile back and thought the same thing. I have to rewatch it though to give  you my full opinion though.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 04, 2007, 04:54:00 PM
Well, I just saw this movie last night and I have mixed feelings about it.


The first 3 hours of the film IMO were fantastic, especially the scenes at Harvard and in Casper, Wyoming. I thought most of the characters were underdeveloped and 2 dimensional. The final 40 minutes were a let-down. The movie was building up to something more but doesn't deliver and the last 5 minutes on the yacht were so pointless.

Excellent attention to detail and brilliant direction by Michael Cimino, but he pays to much attention to detail and wanders away from the basic elements of film-making such as character development.
After watching the peasants rolling around in the skate rink for what seemed like hours I couldn't wait for the regulators to show up and blow them all away. This is a serious flaw in a film where the director wanted audience sympathies to go to the sheepmen. I was rooting for the cattle guys all the way.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on June 05, 2007, 02:59:16 PM
I didn't mind the skating rink scene. It wasn't too long but there are plenty of useless scenes in the film.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on July 09, 2007, 08:37:37 PM
All the backlash this film has recieved, makes it more appealing to me. I hope to watch it someday, I loved the Deer Hunter, so maybe this will be decent.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 09, 2007, 08:42:47 PM
I've never seen it in its entierty just bits and pieces I guess its a candidate for the Netflix cue.  ;)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on July 09, 2007, 08:51:32 PM
I might give in to Netflix, I doubt my local library will have it.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 09, 2007, 09:12:45 PM
I'm sold on it now, especially since my local near by video rental store went tits up,  its a great way to sample films. O0


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: PowerRR on July 10, 2007, 09:28:34 AM
I really need to see this, mainly for the fact that The Deer Hunter is the greatest film known to man (yes, it's a fact!).

I wish Cimino was still making films today - he was a potentially masterful director.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on July 10, 2007, 10:41:20 AM
too bad Heaven's Gate blew his chance. He is more like a one hit wonder now.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on July 10, 2007, 04:25:19 PM
I really need to see this, mainly for the fact that The Deer Hunter is the greatest film known to man (yes, it's a fact!).

I wish Cimino was still making films today - he was a potentially masterful director.

Yeah, but he got so caught up in his own ego that on the set of Heaven's Gate he forgot one of the most important director's skills: make a good movie!


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: noodles_leone on July 11, 2007, 07:45:13 AM
 ;D i'm afraid that's exactly what happened to him!

I heard he was trying to adapt some Balzac books now.. or at least he has been trying for years. Still, i would be a producer, i wouldn't give him a penny, he's far too dangerous! he killed united artists...

Anyway, I LOVE the deer hunter... did you know that the french title is very different? "voyage au bout de l'enfer", ie stg like "A Journey In Hell", with a big reference to Celine's book Voyage au bout de la Nuit.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on July 11, 2007, 02:50:59 PM
I looked the film up on wikipedia, and I found it rather unpleasent when I was directed the other Heaven's Gate.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: PowerRR on August 12, 2007, 12:56:31 PM
I didn't know people liked this!

I may just have to rent it soon...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on August 12, 2007, 01:35:56 PM
I didn't know people liked this!

I may just have to rent it soon...

The movie is mediocre.


Could've been an epic masterpiece but Cimino should've hired a decent screenwriter.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on August 12, 2007, 09:23:37 PM
The movie is mediocre.


Could've been an epic masterpiece but Cimino should've hired a decent screenwriter.

Or an editer.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on August 13, 2007, 10:58:42 AM
Or an editer.

The editing wasn't that bad.




Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: PowerRR on August 13, 2007, 11:49:06 AM
"More or less, -Days of Heaven- stretched to 219 minutes" - IMDb user

Okay then, scratch that part about me wanting to watch it. ;)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on August 13, 2007, 04:59:29 PM
Yeah it's not worth it.

The only scene I felt was great in that movie was the opening epilogue at Harvard with all the waltzing couples on the field and that had nothing to do with the film.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on August 13, 2007, 06:56:31 PM
I haven't seen the movie but I heard it's full of unessecary scenes.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Peacemaker on August 14, 2007, 12:30:06 PM
I haven't seen the movie but I heard it's full of unessecary scenes.

About 70% of the movie is unnecessary.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: KevinJCBJK on August 14, 2007, 01:31:36 PM
About 70% of the movie is unnecessary.

I see. I heard the last part was amazing though.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 02, 2008, 11:30:29 PM
For the first time, I just watched this tonight, talk about indulgence, holy shit, an f-ing full twenty minutes spent at Harvard WTF was he (Cimino) thinking???????.  The march down the street, the sequence in the lecture hall, the friggin dance sequence, the climbing of the tree,  then the other indulgence of the stream of immigrants along the road with their two wheeled carts and if that wasn't enough the indulgence at the "Heavens Gate" roller rink, and there you get a twofer too, the rollerskating and another dance sequence.  He was out of control.

The final battle at the end took forever too, and then the capper to all this was... more than one ending fer christsakes....

He killed the epic Western with BOREDOM!!!!, he single handedly killed it! No bout a dout it.

Turned it from the mythological status that Leone had created and left us with, and turned the Western into a over indulgent friggin period piece costume drama, right begfore our very eyes!!!!!!!

On the plus side the cinematography was beautiful, this is now the third film that I've seen that featured Vilmos Zsigmond art. I didn't think much of it in "The Hired Hand" but here it worked well. I especially liked the Wallace, Idaho (stood in for Casper WY) set with the actual Wallace Station. That is still there, and I was living about 150 miles North of Wallace when they were shooting this,  BTY.  What a major screw up this was.

All in all this film was a major cluster fuck.

I'll post more tomorrow.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 03, 2008, 07:22:23 AM
As far as storywise, there was no need for the 20+ minute Harvard sequence, incredible waste of screen time with superfluous backstory, quite a few characters were based upon actual characters but their interactions were pretty much all fabrications. 

Of the three main characters:

Kristoferson's James Averill was based on a combination of road house owner Jim Averell  and Johnson County Sheriff "Red" Angus.

Ella Watson (Isabell Huppert) otherwise known as "Cattle Kate" was real life Averill's wife and she ran a whore house. Both the real life Averill and Watson were lynched early on by the Cattleman's Association because they took rustled cattle as payment.

Walken's Character Nate Champion was a real life person and his death was depicted much like it actually happened but it occurred a year after Averill's & Watson's lynching.

The story plot points in the events of the Johnson County Cattle War happened check the detailed info here:

http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/johnson.html

The town of Sweetwater (I wonder if that was an homage to OUTITW), the and over emphasis of immigrants in Wyoming were Cimino's additions, (it looked like a Tolstoy novel) all the characters represented by the immigrants were in reality referred to as "nesters" and they were in reality also working cattle not farming as depicted. Anybody who has lived in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, would  know you are not going to farm and make any kind of go at it at 6,000 feet elevation in the Rockies so the landscaped depicted (though beautiful) was inaccurate, early farms would be along river bottom lands not on the high plains. The Wallace Set was spot on lol, because it was real (its a narrow valley in the Bitterroot Range of the Rockies), but the town it represented Casper Wyoming is in a broad valley surrounded by plains surrounded by mountains.

Sweetwater's location was near Glacier National Park and The Blackfoot Indian Res. It would have been believable as a logging or mining town but not a farm/ranch town as depicted.



Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on July 03, 2008, 10:29:03 AM
Joe Queenan's remarks, published just a few months ago in The Guardian, would seem apposite. Having raised the issue of the-worst-film-ever-made, and after considering a few candidates (including The Hottie and the Nottie), he concludes:

Quote
While it may disappoint those who welcome my occasionally unconventional opinions, I am firmly in the camp that believes that Heaven's Gate is the worst movie ever made. For my money, none of these other films can hold a candle to Michael Cimino's 1980 apocalyptic disaster. This is a movie that destroyed the director's career. This is a movie that lost so much money it literally drove a major American studio out of business. This is a movie about Harvard-educated gunslingers who face off against eastern European sodbusters in an epic struggle for the soul of America. This is a movie that stars Isabelle Huppert as a shotgun-toting cowgirl. This is a movie in which Jeff Bridges pukes while mounted on roller skates. This is a movie that has five minutes of uninterrupted fiddle-playing by a fiddler who is also mounted on roller skates. This is a movie that defies belief.

A friend of mine, now deceased, was working for the public relations company handling Heaven's Gate when it was released. He told me that when the 220-minute extravaganza debuted at the Toronto film festival, the reaction was so thermonuclear that the stars and the film-maker had to immediately be flown back to Hollywood, perhaps out of fear for their lives. No one at the studio wanted to go out and greet them upon their return; no one wanted to be seen in that particular hearse. My friend eventually agreed to man the limo that would meet the children of the damned on the airport tarmac and whisk them to safety, but only provided he was given free use of the vehicle for the next three days. After he dropped off the halt and the lame at suitable safe houses and hiding places, he went to Mexico for the weekend. Nothing like this ever happened when Showgirls or Gigli or Ishtar or Xanadu or Glitter or Cleopatra were released. Nothing like this happened when The Hottie and the Nottie dropped dead the day it was released. Heaven's Gate was so bad that people literally had to be bribed to go meet the survivors. Proving that, in living memory, giants of bad taste once ruled the earth. Giants. By comparison with the titans who brought you Heaven's Gate, Paris Hilton is a rank amateur.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 03, 2008, 03:11:49 PM
Quote
While it may disappoint those who welcome my occasionally unconventional opinions, I am firmly in the camp that believes that Heaven's Gate is the worst movie ever made. For my money, none of these other films can hold a candle to Michael Cimino's 1980 apocalyptic disaster. This is a movie that destroyed the director's career. This is a movie that lost so much money it literally drove a major American studio out of business. This is a movie about Harvard-educated gunslingers who face off against eastern European sodbusters in an epic struggle for the soul of America. This is a movie that stars Isabelle Huppert as a shotgun-toting cowgirl. This is a movie in which Jeff Bridges pukes while mounted on roller skates. This is a movie that has five minutes of uninterrupted fiddle-playing by a fiddler who is also mounted on roller skates. This is a movie that defies belief.

A friend of mine, now deceased, was working for the public relations company handling Heaven's Gate when it was released. He told me that when the 220-minute extravaganza debuted at the Toronto film festival, the reaction was so thermonuclear that the stars and the film-maker had to immediately be flown back to Hollywood, perhaps out of fear for their lives. No one at the studio wanted to go out and greet them upon their return; no one wanted to be seen in that particular hearse. My friend eventually agreed to man the limo that would meet the children of the damned on the airport tarmac and whisk them to safety, but only provided he was given free use of the vehicle for the next three days. After he dropped off the halt and the lame at suitable safe houses and hiding places, he went to Mexico for the weekend. Nothing like this ever happened when Showgirls or Gigli or Ishtar or Xanadu or Glitter or Cleopatra were released. Nothing like this happened when The Hottie and the Nottie dropped dead the day it was released. Heaven's Gate was so bad that people literally had to be bribed to go meet the survivors. Proving that, in living memory, giants of bad taste once ruled the earth. Giants. By comparison with the titans who brought you Heaven's Gate, Paris Hilton is a rank amateur.

I'm wondering if Cimino was trying to ape Leone & Morricone on some of those loooooong scenes, long because the score was pre composed and he had to extend the scene even though there was no advance of the plot with any visual storytelling, it would be interesting to find out, if he was just completely incompetent or if he was trying for the "Western Opera". lol

And now for a few positives, besides the cinematography, Isabel Hupperts charms and they are very nice charms are displayed full frontal in a number of scenes. I think Cimino gets credit for not only killing UA and the epic Western but also maybe the adult Western too, now we are getting PG-13 Westerns rather than "R" Westerns, though the theater going demographics have changed, and that may have something to do with it.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: T.H. on July 03, 2008, 08:33:33 PM
I have never seen HG in its entirety and for a reason. I have seen scattered sequences throughout the last few years: the Harvard scene, roller skates, a couple others, which make me not yearn to spend four hours of my life watching this dreck. Cimino shot over 200 hours of footage for this movie. He was allowed to do so because of a loophole in his contract that didn't include shot footage into the overall budget or something of the sort. If I was the head of UA, I would have handed the 200 hours of footage over to Woody Allen (along with a large sum of cash) and told him to work his magic.

I remember reading a review that said (paraphrasing) Cimino must have sold his soul to the devil to make DH, and that HG was simply payback.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 04, 2008, 05:38:25 AM
A good observation.
I wouldn't mind just having a few selected sequences on a DVD mainly the train sequence arrival in Casper (actually Wallace Idaho), Isabel Huppert's nude sequences  >:D, a town sequence or two with Glacier Park and that's about it.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on July 04, 2008, 05:40:13 AM
I find a lot of people, particularly on that gathering of intellectuals known as IMDB, who proclaim Heaven's Gate as an unfairly maligned masterpiece - oh, and those who don't like it are idiots who are either too impatient or too slow-witted to understand it. I believe DVD Savant falls in this camp too, although he's never actually written a review of it. :D

I might be willing to watch it, its reputation aside, IF it weren't close to four hours long. 220 minutes of atrocious boredom isn't a risk I'm willing to take. :o


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on July 04, 2008, 07:57:47 AM
Here's Roger Ebert's review of Heaven's Gate, for everyone's consumption. He's reviewing the short version, but he apparently didn't care for the long one either:

Quote
Heaven's Gate: *1/2/4

We begin with a fundamental question: Why is Heaven's Gate so painful and unpleasant to look at? I'm not referring to it's content, but to its actual visual texture: This is one of the ugliest films I've ever seen. Its director, Michael Cimino, opens his story at Harvard, continues it in Montana, and closes it aboard a ship. And yet a grim industrial pall hangs low over everything. There are clouds and billows of dirty yellow smoke in every shot that can possibly justify it, and when he runs out of smoke he gives us fog and such incredible amounts of dust that there are whole scenes where we can barely see anything. That's not enough. Cimino also shoots his picture in a maddening soft-cous that makes the people and places in the movie sometimes almost impossible to see. And then he goes after the colors. There's not a single primary color in this movie, only dingy washed-out sepia tones.

I know, I know: He's trying to demystify the West, and all those other things hotshot directors try to do when they don't really want to make a Western. But this movie is a study in wretched excess. It is so smoky, so dusty, so foggy, so unfocused and so brownish yellow that you want to try Windex on the screen. A director is in deep trouble when w do not even enjoy the primary act of looking at his picture.

But Cimino's in deeper trouble still. Heaven's Gate has, of course, become a notorious picture, a boondoggle that cost something like $36 million and was yanked out of its New York opening run after the critics ran gagging from the theater. Its running time, at that point, was more than four hours. Perhaps length was the problem? Cimino went back to the editing room, while a United Artists executive complained that the film had been "destroyed" by an unfairly negative review by New York Times critic Vincent Canby. Brother Canby was only doing his job. If the film was formless at four hours, it was insipid at 140 minutes. At either lengthit is so incompetently photographed and edited that there are times when we are not even sure which character we are looking at. Christopher Walken is in several of the initial Western scenes before he finally gets a close-up and we see who he is. John Hurt wanders through various scenes to no avail. Kris Kristofferson is the star of the movie, and is never allowed to generate enough character for us to miss him, should he disappear.

The opening scenes are set at Harvard (well, they were actually shot in England, but never mind). They show Kristofferson, Hurt, and other idealistic young men graduating in 1870 and setting off to civilize a nation. Kristofferson decides to go West, to help develop the territory. He explains this decision in a narration, and the movie might have benefited if he'd narrated the whole thing, explaining as he went along. Out West, as a lawman, he learns of a plot by the cattlebreeders' association to hire a private army and assassinate 125 newly arrived European immigrants who are, it is claimed, anarchists, killers, and thieves. Most of the movie will be about this plot, Kristofferson's attempts to stop it, Walken's involvement in it, and the involvement of both Kristofferson and Walken in the private life of a young Montana madam (Isabelle Huppert).

In a movie where nothing is handled well, the immigrants are handled very badly. Cimino sees them as a mob. They march onscreen, babble excitedly in foreign tongues, and rush off wildly in all directions. By the movie's end, we can identify only one of them for sure. She is the Widow Kovach, whose husband was shot dead near the beginning of the film. That makes her the emblem of the immigrants' suffering. Every time she steps forward out of the mob,somebody respectfully murmurs "Widow Kovach!" in the subtitles. While the foreigners are hanging onto Widow Kovach's every insight, the cattlemen are holding meetings in private clubs and offering to pay their mercenaries $5 a day plus expenses and $50 for every other foreigner shot or hung. I am sure of those terms because they are repeated endlessly throughout a movie that cares to make almost nothing else clear.

The ridiculous scenes are endless. Samples: Walken, surrounded by gunmen and trapped in a burning cabin, scribbles a farewell note in which he observes that he is trapped in the burning cabin, and then he signs his full name so that there will be no doubt who the note was from. Kristofferson, discovering Huppert being gang-raped by several men, leaps in with six-guns in both hands and shoots all the men, including those aboard Huppert, without injuring her. In a big battle scene, men make armored wagons out of logs and push them forward into the line of fire, even though anyone could ride around behind and shoot them. There is more. There is much more. It all adds up to a great deal less. This movie is $36 million thrown to the winds. It is the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen, and remember, I've seen Paint Your Wagon.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on July 04, 2008, 10:49:48 AM
Ebert's review is pretty good but some of his criticism is unfounded Champion actually did write in a notebook during the seige:

Champion grabbed Ray, pulling him back into the cabin. During the day, Champion and the "regulators" exchanged shots. During lulls, Champion kept a log in an old notebook, later printed by Sam Clover:


"Me and Nick was getting breakfast when the attack took place. Two men was with us- Bill Jones and another man. The old man went after water and did not come back. His friend went to see what was the matter and he did not come back. Nick started out and I told him to look out, that I thought there was someone at the stable and would not let them come back.

Nick is shot but not dead yet. He is awful sick. I must go and wait on him.

It is now about two hours since the first shot. Nick is still alive.

Boys, there is bullets coming like hail. They are shooting from the stable and river and back of the house.

Them fellows is in such shape I can’t get at them. They are shooting from the stable and river and back of the house. Nick is dead, he died about 9 o'clock. I see a smoke down at the stable. I think they have fired it. I don't think they intend to let me get away this time.

Boys, I feel pretty lonesome just now, I wish there was someone here with me so we could watch all sides at once.

I heard them splitting wood. I guess they are going to fire the house to-night.

I think I will make a break when night comes if alive."

The regulators took a wagon and loaded it with flamables and shoved it into the cabin. Champion's final message written in the notebook:

"The house is all fired. Goodbye boys, if I never see you again."Nathan D. Champion

Champion dashed out the rear door of the cabin and was hit in the leg by a shot. Then a shot from Shonsey hit Champion, but the regulators kept firing, ultimately there were more than 24 bullets in Champion.

In the film however  his final message written on a notebook page  is to Ella and Averill.

And about the battle the Cattlemens hired guns were barraicaded at the TA ranch buildingd surrounded by the posse who build moveable barricades out of the Cattlemen's wagons, they couldn't have ridden around them. The film shows the hired guns barricaded around a grove of trees, but they still were totally surrounded.

Here is an image of the historical moveable barricade.
(http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/6158/tabarracadenu7.gif)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on June 10, 2009, 04:29:52 PM
I saw this for the first time over the weekend.

Here's my take on Ebert's review:

Quote

We begin with a fundamental question: Why is Heaven's Gate so painful and unpleasant to look at? I'm not referring to it's content, but to its actual visual texture: This is one of the ugliest films I've ever seen. Its director, Michael Cimino, opens his story at Harvard, continues it in Montana, and closes it aboard a ship. And yet a grim industrial pall hangs low over everything. There are clouds and billows of dirty yellow smoke in every shot that can possibly justify it, and when he runs out of smoke he gives us fog and such incredible amounts of dust that there are whole scenes where we can barely see anything. That's not enough. Cimino also shoots his picture in a maddening soft-cous that makes the people and places in the movie sometimes almost impossible to see. And then he goes after the colors. There's not a single primary color in this movie, only dingy washed-out sepia tones.

I know, I know: He's trying to demystify the West, and all those other things hotshot directors try to do when they don't really want to make a Western. But this movie is a study in wretched excess. It is so smoky, so dusty, so foggy, so unfocused and so brownish yellow that you want to try Windex on the screen. A director is in deep trouble when w do not even enjoy the primary act of looking at his picture.

I thought the cinematography was beautiful.

Quote
At either length it is so incompetently photographed and edited that there are times when we are not even sure which character we are looking at.

hmmm...

Quote
By the movie's end, we can identify only one of them for sure. She is the Widow Kovach, whose husband was shot dead near the beginning of the film. That makes her the emblem of the immigrants' suffering. Every time she steps forward out of the mob,somebody respectfully murmurs "Widow Kovach!" in the subtitles.

Interesting, my version had no subtitles for the immigrants (although I noted that in other languages it did).

Quote
The ridiculous scenes are endless. Samples: Walken, surrounded by gunmen and trapped in a burning cabin, scribbles a farewell note in which he observes that he is trapped in the burning cabin, and then he signs his full name so that there will be no doubt who the note was from.

To quote Cigar Joe: Walken's Character Nate Champion was a real life person and his death was depicted much like it actually happened but it occurred a year after Averill's & Watson's lynching.


Here's my take on Queenan:

Quote
While it may disappoint those who welcome my occasionally unconventional opinions, I am firmly in the camp that believes that Heaven's Gate is the worst movie ever made. For my money, none of these other films can hold a candle to Michael Cimino's 1980 apocalyptic disaster. This is a movie that destroyed the director's career.

Actually he was given another chance with Footloose but was later removed. The Footloose incident destroyed his career because he was perceived to have not learned his lesson.

Quote
This is a movie that lost so much money it literally drove a major American studio out of business

Now whose fault is that? Partly Cimino's of course, but talented directors often need restraint to stay within budget. The studio acted irresponsibly too and must take a significant share of the blame.

Quote
A friend of mine, now deceased, was working for the public relations company handling Heaven's Gate when it was released. He told me that when the 220-minute extravaganza debuted at the Toronto film festival, the reaction was so thermonuclear that the stars and the film-maker had to immediately be flown back to Hollywood, perhaps out of fear for their lives. No one at the studio wanted to go out and greet them upon their return; no one wanted to be seen in that particular hearse. My friend eventually agreed to man the limo that would meet the children of the damned on the airport tarmac and whisk them to safety, but only provided he was given free use of the vehicle for the next three days. After he dropped off the halt and the lame at suitable safe houses and hiding places, he went to Mexico for the weekend. Nothing like this ever happened when Showgirls or Gigli or Ishtar or Xanadu or Glitter or Cleopatra were released. Nothing like this happened when The Hottie and the Nottie dropped dead the day it was released. Heaven's Gate was so bad that people literally had to be bribed to go meet the survivors. Proving that, in living memory, giants of bad taste once ruled the earth. Giants. By comparison with the titans who brought you Heaven's Gate, Paris Hilton is a rank amateur.

Right, and back to reviewing the movie itself...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on June 11, 2009, 06:41:55 AM
Well Footloose was, as you say, Cimino's last chance to prove himself. It's amusing to read how power-hungry and extravagant he tried to be on the set of that movie - Footloose and extravagant aren't words that go together ordinarily. :D It seems to me the film would have been successful had pretty much anyone had directed though, so it was a pretty generous bone to throw him.

Anyway, I'm not sure how this movie could be worse than Leprechaun in the Hood, or The Trial of Billy Jack, or the film in my signature...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: The Firecracker on June 11, 2009, 11:40:46 AM
much as seems to have been the case with Alex Cox's "Walker" which I haven't seen yet (those Criterion discs are so pricey) but hope to soon.

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=7363.0

COMMENT
When you're ready...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on August 03, 2009, 09:05:30 AM
So I watched the Australian R4 disc over the weekend (the only anamorphic uncut version available). I still can't get over what a magnificent film this is!

I also watched an informative documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdcRiPLp4oU) which makes some very interesting points. I thought I'd post some of them in response to other people's postings:

After watching the peasants rolling around in the skate rink for what seemed like hours I couldn't wait for the regulators to show up and blow them all away.

Ok, so I actually really loved that scene. Apparently Cimino's original cut of the movie, that he screened for the studio execs but was not allowed to release, was 5hrs 25 mins! Jenkins, I think you might have been bored senseless!

The final 40 minutes were a let-down.

One of the studio execs said that in the 5 and a half hour version, the fight at the end lasted almost the length of a short feature film in itself!

... i wouldn't give him a penny, he's far too dangerous! he killed united artists...

Yes he did, but interestingly it wasn't strictly due to finances. UA was owned by a much larger corporation that wrote off the losses with ease. UA was sold to MGM because the corporation no longer wanted anything to do with movies after the bad publicity associated with the whole affair.

As far as storywise, there was no need for the 20+ minute Harvard sequence, incredible waste of screen time with superfluous backstory, quite a few characters were based upon actual characters but their interactions were pretty much all fabrications.  

Ok, well I actually loved this introduction. It was filmed in Oxford, England cos Harvard wouldn't let them film and was added after principal filming had been finished.

I find a lot of people, particularly on that gathering of intellectuals known as IMDB, who proclaim Heaven's Gate as an unfairly maligned masterpiece...

It is, it really really is. Even the directors at UA said the reviewers basically went for it on the basis of all the awful media attention and, with a few exceptions, completely ignored the merits of the movie in and of itself.


Also of note is something Kris Kristofferson said regarding the fact that he could see why they wanted to wrestle control of movies away from directors for financial reasons but that this was effectively tantamount to taking a movie from the creative/artistic types and giving it to the financial types. The implication of the documentary was that Heaven's Gate marked the demise of director-controlled movie making in favor of commercial viability - the evidence of which is abundant in many Hollywood productions since then.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on August 03, 2009, 05:47:36 PM
Also of note is something Kris Kristofferson said regarding the fact that he could see why they wanted to wrestle control of movies away from directors for financial reasons but that this was effectively tantamount to taking a movie from the creative/artistic types and giving it to the financial types. The implication of the documentary was that Heaven's Gate marked the demise of director-controlled movie making in favor of commercial viability - the evidence of which is abundant in many Hollywood productions since then.

I can agree with that.



Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on October 03, 2009, 05:04:58 PM
Leone's comments on Cimino (Simsolo p 195):

"Cimino was successful with the first part of 'The Deer Hunter' and I think that the uncut version of 'Heaven's Gate' is wonderful."


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on October 04, 2009, 05:22:07 AM
its still a bit too tedious for me in spots.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 17, 2009, 12:10:25 PM
After Sunday night's NFL match-up, Michael Cimino and Bill Belichick are apparently two peas in a pod  :o

"Belichick correctly calculated that if he punted, the hot Indianapolis offense was likely to beat his tired defense -- while if he went for the first down, New England was likely to win. The decision just didn't work out. Lots of reasonable-seeming decisions don't work out -- it seemed reasonable at the time for United Artists to back "Heaven's Gate." (For those who have forgotten, this mega-flop put the studio out of business, though the United Artists name recently was revived.)" (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/091117&sportCat=nfl)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Kurug3n on August 31, 2012, 01:00:05 PM
(http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/218/636box348x490.jpg) (http://www.criterion.com/films/28036-heaven-s-gate)

Criterion is re-releasing it on November 20th


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on September 01, 2012, 07:03:32 AM
Can't wait. Already mentioned it here

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=8877.msg158957#msg158957


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: PowerRR on September 01, 2012, 01:44:32 PM
Leone's comments on Cimino (Simsolo p 195):

"Cimino was successful with the first part of 'The Deer Hunter' and I think that the uncut version of 'Heaven's Gate' is wonderful."

Any more of Leone's thoughts on the entirety of The Deer Hunter? I'm curious to know what he disliked about it. I haven't watched it in years, but I would still probably considered The Deer Hunter to be the greatest Non-Leone film I've seen.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Kurug3n on September 02, 2012, 09:29:41 PM
Any more of Leone's thoughts on the entirety of The Deer Hunter? I'm curious to know what he disliked about it. I haven't watched it in years, but I would still probably considered The Deer Hunter to be the greatest Non-Leone film I've seen.

Has Leone said anything negative about any film?

Can't wait. Already mentioned it here

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=8877.msg158957#msg158957


Didn't know it was posted already. I was really surprised that it was getting re-released and that Cimino had actually looked over the restoration.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on September 03, 2012, 08:07:01 AM
Ebert's review is pretty good but some of his criticism is unfounded Champion actually did write in a notebook during the seige

The answer to that I'd make is that just because it really happened doesn't mean it's either cinematic or well-done. "It really happened", to my way of thinking is a pretty thin excuse.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on September 03, 2012, 09:46:09 AM
Has Leone said anything negative about any film?

I think what Leone implies about the second part of The Deer Hunter already answers that question.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on September 03, 2012, 10:05:44 AM
The answer to that I'd make is that just because it really happened doesn't mean it's either cinematic or well-done. "It really happened", to my way of thinking is a pretty thin excuse.

Fair point. Nevertheless, last time I watched it, I found it both cinematic and well-done.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 07, 2012, 09:40:32 PM
Will definitely be getting this:

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film4/blu-ray_reviews_58/heavens_gate_blu-ray.htm


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 09, 2012, 10:57:43 AM
One should support Criterion when they put out a Western (by my count, this is only their third). Especially when the blu-ray is sure to look as good as this one will (if the advance word is true). Of course, the film stinks, but you can't have everything. >:D


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 10, 2012, 08:43:08 AM
So you're gonna buy it then?

You never know, you might undergo some profound revelation...


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 10, 2012, 12:37:43 PM
That would only be possible if I somehow had a profound revelation about The Deer Hunter also. Not too likely.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on November 10, 2012, 07:51:18 PM
That would only be possible if I somehow had a profound revelation about The Deer Hunter also. Not too likely.

 ;D


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 17, 2012, 11:21:38 AM
That would only be possible if I somehow had a profound revelation about The Deer Hunter also. Not too likely.

You do realize that you are comparing one of the most overrated movies ever with one of the most underrated movies ever.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 17, 2012, 01:02:22 PM
I am comparing two bad films made by the same director. Cimino was capable of good work--we have Thunderbolt & Lightfoot as evidence. But it seems doing good work wasn't what he aspired to.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 09, 2012, 05:19:07 PM
Savant!!! http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s4042gate.html


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on December 10, 2012, 08:20:50 AM
Beautiful screen caps. Can't wait for Beaver.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 10, 2012, 09:22:54 AM
Beautiful screen caps. Can't wait for Beaver.
They're already up. Blu-ray.com too.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on January 03, 2013, 08:37:36 PM
Anyone live near Hollywood?

http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/7229-MICHAEL-CIMINO-AT-HEAVENS-GATE-SCREENING,-EGYPTIAN-THEATRE,-HOLLYWOOD,-JANUARY-19.html

By the way, the new Blu-ray is absolutely gorgeous. Whatever one's ultimate opinion may be, after viewing this restoration I don't think anyone would be able to deny that it is absolutely stunning.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: PowerRR on January 22, 2013, 02:48:21 PM
By the way, the new Blu-ray is absolutely gorgeous. Whatever one's ultimate opinion may be, after viewing this restoration I don't think anyone would be able to deny that it is absolutely stunning.
agreed. one of the best-looking films I've seen. the blu is incredible


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 10, 2013, 04:36:44 PM
Interesting comment (supported by Robert Harris below) over at the Home Theater Forum regarding the color of the new BD:

Quote
The thing is, the 35mm print you saw would NOT have been a vintage 35mm print, but rather based off the mid-2000s photochemical restoration performed by John Kirk using less-than-optimal source material. While Zsigmond was involved with that restoration, one has to ask, what was he using to absolutely ascertain that the results they were achieving color-wise were exactly what they got and intended back in 1980? Actual prints of the premiere version from 1980 (of which there were very few) would likely have been faded by the mid-2000s, so I'd have to think he was going off memory while at the same time pushing the less-than-optimal film elements they had access to to the best of their ability. I'm in no way knocking Kirk's heroic work or Zsigmond's intentions against incredible odds back then, but the early-1990s LaserDisc I mentioned was mastered from a vintage color-timed print which would not have faded by the early 1990s. The color on that LD is close to the Criterion version rather than the later very reddish/brown MGM versions that were released on LaserDisc, DVD, and finally broadcast HD. Frankly, I don't find the Criterion look to be "distracting" at all. It's certainly more vivid than the Image LaserDisc that was my go-to version of HEAVEN'S GATE for more than a decade, but it's a lot closer to the look of that LD than the later MGM LaserDisc and DVD transfers, and the broadcast HD version that's currently streaming on Netflix.

    Vincent

Quote
Precisely, Vincent.


I believe those prints were from a dupe neg, reduction printed from a slightly faded 70mm print, which in turn, had been made as a blow-up frm the 35 OCN. Not a great deal of control was possible.


RAH


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 11, 2013, 10:47:42 AM
Okay, so I finally saw the movie, on Netflix streaming. It was 3:39. I would appreciate if anyone can tell me whether this was the original premiere version or what; I read the Wikipedia discussion of the various versions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28film%29#Versions_of_the_film
seems that original premiere version was 3:39.... but it also says that in 2005, MGM released a "radical cut" 3:39 version, and I'm not sure if that's the same thing... then Criterion released a 3:36 version in 2012, which Cimino says is his preferred version. I'd love to know how this 3:39 Netflix version compares with the 3:36 version that is Cimino's preferred version – is it basically the same thing with just a few more minutes, or is it very different?

Anyway, I give the movie an 8/10

As Peacemaker said in a post earlier in this thread, the first 3 hours were amazing but the last 40 minutes were a letdown.

There was one scene I found absolutely excruciating - the scene where Kris Kristofferson reads the names on the death list to the assembled immigrants. That was annoying as hell with all the screaming that takes place between each name being called. Maybe that's more realistic - but when realism is annoying, screw realism. That scene could have been significantly cut, to get rid of the screaming. There's some other scenes of the immigrants screaming that could have been trimmed; those are the only specific scenes I have a problem with.

But overall, I'd say that the first 3 hours were simply amazing, and then the last 40 minutes just didn't live up to that level.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: noodles_leone on November 11, 2013, 11:57:12 AM
screw realism.

... and when you ear that from DD, you know you really have to screw it.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 11, 2013, 12:24:14 PM
... and when you ear that from DD, you know you really have to screw it.

discussing realism in movies, Christopher Frayling once said, about Heaven's Gate, something like "Realism is great, but do we have to know the blood group of the horses?"  ;D


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: stanton on November 11, 2013, 02:21:03 PM
"Realism is great, but do we have to know the blood group of the horses?"  ;D

... and the answer is: It depends, in some films yes, in others no, never.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on November 11, 2013, 05:58:15 PM
Okay, so I finally saw the movie, on Netflix streaming. It was 3:39. I would appreciate if anyone can tell me whether this was the original premiere version or what; I read the Wikipedia discussion of the various versions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28film%29#Versions_of_the_film
seems that original premiere version was 3:39.... but it also says that in 2005, MGM released a "radical cut" 3:39 version, and I'm not sure if that's the same thing... then Criterion released a 3:36 version in 2012, which Cimino says is his preferred version. I'd love to know how this 3:39 Netflix version compares with the 3:36 version that is Cimino's preferred version – is it basically the same thing with just a few more minutes, or is it very different?

Cimino made a few small edits for the new Criterion BD. If you search on the internet (DVD Savant or the like) you'll be able to find out more.

However, my post was rather about the color timing of the new BD versus some of the other prints that have been on home video. I wonder if a similar explanation can be used for the very different coloring between the Italian releases of Leone's films and other international releases?


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 11, 2013, 08:54:36 PM
All I want to know (if anyone knows the answer) is: How does the 339-minute Netflix streaming version differs from the 3:36 Criterion version?

I'm not focusing on color or sound, just on the cut: Is it the same version just a few minutes (perhaps only the intermission) added? Or is it a significantly different cut? Basically, Cimino supposedly said that the 216-minute Criterion version is what he feels is the true version of the movie, and I just wanna know how that differs (if at all) from the version I saw on Netflix streaming. (I read DVD Savant's entire page on this movie, which doesn't answer my question, because Savant doesn't discuss Netflix's version. My understanding is that there are several different 3:39 versions, and I don't know what's what; so I just wanna know how it compares to the Criterion version.)

---

more on the movie: sometimes, even beautiful visual effects can get tiresome when they are repeated too often. (Heck you can say that not just about visual effects, but about many cinematic device: when something is repeated too often, and when it feels like it is being done to consciously, it loses its appeal. For example, there are some beautiful daytime interior shots with no light but the sunlights streaming in through the windows or whatever, but when you see that beautiful visual in just about every single daytime interior scene, it loses its effect. DVD Savant made similar points in his review... Also, how many freaking exterior shots have to be clouds of dust engulfing the characters? I mean, my God, it's like Cimino is saying, "Isn't this beautiful?" yes it is. "Isn't this beautiful?" yes it is. "This is really beautiful, no?" Yes, Mike, it's lovely. "Now isn't this beautiful?" NO MIKE, NOW IT'S JUST ANNOYING. Or at the very least, nothing special.

Also, RE: the realism, how about that scene where Jim first arrives in the town of Casper; his friend the Irish stationmaster takes him into town, and is truing to explain the conflict to him, but you can barely hear him over the rumble of the carriages. Again, maybe that's realistic - maybe the noise in these towns made it hard to hear someone speak – but as a movie viewer it's annoying. The #1 thing for a filmmaker to do is not be annoying. Great filmmaking is being able to project anything (including ultra-realism, ultra-noisy streets, a character that is ultra-annoying to other characters, etc.) without grating on the viewer


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 14, 2013, 05:20:05 AM
A few more things I wanted to add: I didn't like Sam Waterston here....Walken is ok here, not nearly as good as usual....
The performances I really loved were those by Kris Kristofferson, John Hurt, and Isabelle Huppert. Also, Richard Masur was terrific in his small supporting role as the station master (Masur's accent is incredible; couldn't believe he is not actually Irish!)
In general, I didn't like some of the "meeting" or "gathering" scenes – whether with the immigrants or the landowners....


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 14, 2013, 09:58:19 AM
Let's help D&D sum up, shall we?  >:D
Quote
Anyway, I give the movie an 8/10

As Peacemaker said in a post earlier in this thread, the first 3 hours were amazing but the last 40 minutes were a letdown.

There was one scene I found absolutely excruciating - the scene where Kris Kristofferson reads the names on the death list to the assembled immigrants. That was annoying as hell with all the screaming that takes place between each name being called.

Quote
Anyway, I give the movie an 8/10

Quote
sometimes, even beautiful visual effects can get tiresome when they are repeated too often. (Heck you can say that not just about visual effects, but about many cinematic device: when something is repeated too often, and when it feels like it is being done to consciously, it loses its appeal. For example, there are some beautiful daytime interior shots with no light but the sunlights streaming in through the windows or whatever, but when you see that beautiful visual in just about every single daytime interior scene, it loses its effect. DVD Savant made similar points in his review... Also, how many freaking exterior shots have to be clouds of dust engulfing the characters? I mean, my God, it's like Cimino is saying, "Isn't this beautiful?" yes it is. "Isn't this beautiful?" yes it is. "This is really beautiful, no?" Yes, Mike, it's lovely. "Now isn't this beautiful?" NO MIKE, NOW IT'S JUST ANNOYING. Or at the very least, nothing special.

Also, RE: the realism, how about that scene where Jim first arrives in the town of Casper; his friend the Irish stationmaster takes him into town, and is truing to explain the conflict to him, but you can barely hear him over the rumble of the carriages. Again, maybe that's realistic - maybe the noise in these towns made it hard to hear someone speak – but as a movie viewer it's annoying. The #1 thing for a filmmaker to do is not be annoying. Great filmmaking is being able to project anything (including ultra-realism, ultra-noisy streets, a character that is ultra-annoying to other characters, etc.) without grating on the viewer
Quote
In general, I didn't like some of the "meeting" or "gathering" scenes – whether with the immigrants or the landowners....
Quote
Anyway, I give the movie an 8/10


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on November 14, 2013, 03:55:04 PM
It took Cimino 3 hours and 39 minutes to tell us his opinion

Me, it only took 39 lines and 3 posts  :P



Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on November 14, 2013, 07:16:24 PM
 ;D


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on November 15, 2013, 01:10:11 PM
It took Cimino 3 hours and 39 minutes to tell us his opinion

Me, it only took 39 lines and 3 posts  :P
OK, I'll give you a 7/10. Cimino gets a "3."


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 02, 2014, 12:31:13 PM
Savant put me on to this: a fan edit of the film that gets everything down to 110 minutes (or thereabouts). It's called--ha!--The Butcher's Cut. It doesn't make the film any better, just shorter. A real public service if there ever was one. Anyway: http://extension765.com/sdr/16-heavens-gate-the-butchers-cut


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on March 21, 2016, 03:29:58 PM
My whale shit comment in the RTLMYS thread is probably adequate. But hey, Groggy's gotta Grog:

Quote
Michael Cimino's Heaven Gate (1980) is Hollywood's most infamous flop. Cimino used his leverage from The Deer Hunter to produce his longtime passion project, an epic Western about the Johnson County War of 1889. With an uncontrolled budget fueled by Cimino's megalomania, it became a joke long before premiering to bad reviews and catastrophic box office.

 Since its 2012 restoration, many critics argue that Heaven's Gate was an unfairly maligned masterpiece. They're wrong. Cimino's 216 minute folly is as awful now as 36 years ago, impeccably shot but intractably dull.

 Harvard-educated gunslinger Jim Averill (Kris Kristofferson) arrives in Casper, Wyoming in the midst of a range war between business interests and European farmers. The Cattleman's Association masses 150 gunslingers to massacre the farmers. Jim vies with Nate Champion (Christopher Walken), the Cattlemen's enforcer, for the affections of Ella (Isabelle Huppert), a pretty prostitute. He also tries to reason with Billy Irvine (John Hurt), a former classmate working with the Cattlemen. Naturally, the situation culminates in bloodshed.

Heaven's Gate has enough beautiful imagery for ten movies. Cimino and photographer Vilmos Zsigmond film in Montana's Glacier National Park, providing endless beautiful backdrops to complement impeccable period recreations. Heaven's Gate doesn't lack for iconography: Nate's introduction, shooting a farmer through a sheet; a train station swarming with immigrants; wide shots illuminated by shifting clouds; a fiery farmhouse siege. If only Cimino offered more than portentous pageantry.


Cimino starts with a Harvard graduation that plays like outtakes from The Leopard. Barely mentioned again, this twenty minute passage amply summarizes Heaven's Gate's failures. There's little narrative, so we're asked to enjoy Cimino's set pieces. But it's so obviously onanistic that the effect wears thin. Square dancing on roller skates, rustic baseball games, cockfights in church basements: eventually, they're interchangeable.

 At heart, Heaven's Gate is Shane by Luchino Visconti, a range war epic with a Marxist slant. Cimino treats the immigrants as a filthy, helpless mob babbling unsubtitled dialogue. The villains are mustache-twirling businessmen crafting Nixonian enemies lists and spouting Reaganesque bromides about coddling criminals. The politics aren't more sophisticated than the story; engorging the scope diminishes them further.

 Of course, films can work without a rich narrative. But Cimino is neither Visconti nor Sergio Leone; his characters lack mythic stature, barely discernable from the cartoon baddies and immigrant rabble. Neither the prologue nor later run-ins explain how Jim and Billy changed from Eastern swells to frontiersmen, or why they parted ways. Ella suddenly appears an hour in, her romantic dilemma unconvincingly sketched. For all his grandeur, Cimino's drama is stillborn.


After three hours of wheel-spinning, Heaven's Gate wheezes to a climax. Jim transforms from inert bystander to inspiring leader, organizing Casper's immigrants to attack the Cattlemen. This results in an epic battle whose incoherence overwhelms spectacle. Most of the action's obscured by dust and dizzying camerawork; when someone's shot, we can't tell characters from extras. Cimino fumbles even his David Lean moment, with a twist less shocking than sour.

 Kris Kristofferson's stoic, dithering passivity forfeits our respect. Isabella Huppert is similarly bland. John Hurt feels egregiously miscast, while Sam Waterston plays a silent movie villain. Christopher Walken is an intriguing presence, but lacks either motivation or stature to work. Jeff Bridges and Brad Dourif give showy supporting turns. Future stars Willem Dafoe, Terry O'Quinn and Mickey Rourke have walk-ons; Joseph Cotten delivers a boring speech.

Heaven's Gate wants to be the definitive revisionist Western. But Cimino's ego botches everything; by puffing a programmer plot into an epic, Heaven's Gate collapses in self-importance. All that's left is pretty photography, elaborate sets and deep disappointment. 4/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/03/heavens-gate.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/03/heavens-gate.html)


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 06:18:00 PM
How about the scene in the town where the carriages are rumbling so loudly you can't hear the dialogue - going for perhaps ultra-realism but so utterly annoying. Like watching someone take a shit-  realistic, but who wants to see that?

Overall, I generally liked the first 3 hours but the movie fell apart in last 40 minutes.

But your reviews are always enjoyable. Two thumbs up on the review O0 O0

Btw, regarding the opening scene, the graduation dance, I guess it is meant as a contrast to the final scene, another spin-o-rama. What the hell that contraption is, I have no idea.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on March 21, 2016, 07:54:24 PM
Cimino can claim realism all he wants but the real Johnson County War claimed at most 25 lives, rather than the hundreds killed in the climactic battle. So fuck him.

I assume the Harvard scenes were meant to show Jim and Bill's youthful idealism before they were separated by years of ugliness. Trouble is we don't see any of that ugliness; they just show up in the same county years later without any hint of what happened since.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on March 21, 2016, 09:15:24 PM
Btw, regarding the opening scene, the graduation dance, I guess it is meant as a contrast to the final scene, another spin-o-rama.

Good point - some nice bookending.

Cimino can claim realism all he wants but the real Johnson County War claimed at most 25 lives, rather than the hundreds killed in the climactic battle.

I would say that while realism is needed, historical accuracy is not. That was the Leone way as well. If you want historical accuracy you can read an academic treatise on the matter.

My whale shit comment in the RTLMYS thread is probably adequate. But hey, Groggy's gotta Grog...

That's a very well-written review. I find myself appreciating the written style of the review but disagreeing with its content. In a weird way (and I mean this in the most complimentary way), I think I view your review in the same way you view the film itself. As a result you have me completely understanding and appreciating your opinion without me having to agree with it.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 09:31:40 PM
I remember Frayling once, in discussing ultra-realism and HEAVEN'S GATE, said something like, Realism is great, but do we really have to know the blood-type of the horses?  ;D


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 09:43:28 PM
IMO, there is an important point about epics in general that is relevant here (even though I liked this movie more than most of you): if you are going to be big and long and have beautiful cinematography and all these wonderful set pieces etc, you better be a great movie. It feels kinda a letdown when these components don't add up to a great movie. E.g. When there is wonderful cinematography and all that, but the movie overall does not live up to that level, your feeling of the movie is, in a sense, hurt by the great cinematography.

In this case, it's like the viewer feeling, "Hey Cimino, great cinematography and production design, and you wasted it on THIS? I can't get more excited for a technical bit than I am for the whole movie."


In that regard, sometimes, if you are not gonna be a great movie, better to make a tight little movie with no show-off technical stuff.

I recall Ebert writing about RYAN's DAUGHTER (which I liked a lot, but he didn't) that the story did not seem important enough for all of Lean's amazing camerawork - the Troubles in Ireland weren't important enough to Ebert to warrant these big emotional shots of the constellations turning or whatever. I totally disagree with him on RYAN's DAUGHTER, but I get his point.

When an epic is amazing and has everthing - like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - it is an incredible experience. But if it falls short, the great components can hurt it.

I recently had a similar experience with THE REVENANT. Some great set pieces and spectacular shots etc., but when I saw them, I said, "for what?" You almost need to make a great movie in order to "justify" having great components.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 09:48:31 PM
Just went back and read Ebert's review on RYAN'S DAUGHTER that I referenced in the previous post (first time I have read it since I saw the movie a couple of years ago) I guess he is sorta saying somewhat what I said  ;)

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ryans-daughter-1970


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on March 21, 2016, 09:55:26 PM
Thanks guys for the compliments and the interesting thoughts.

There were some moments in Heaven's Gate, as with The Revenant, that are really impressive. The one I remember most, though I only mentioned it in passing, was the Regulators murdering the immigrant late in the movie. There's a long shot of the immigrant cowering before the first gunfighter where the light shifts in and out of shadow several times within the same shot. I don't know if that was natural lighting or a Cimino/Zsigmond trick, but it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen in any movie. Unfortunately, without any substance or direction to back it up, it doesn't amount to anything more than a pretty picture.



Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Novecento on March 21, 2016, 10:07:35 PM
Just went back and read Ebert's review on RYAN'S DAUGHTER that I referenced in the previous post (first time I have read it since I saw the movie a couple of years ago) I guess he is sorta saying somewhat what I said  ;)

Here's the killer line:

Quote
... a disappointing failure of tone, a lush and overblown self-indulgence in which David Lean has given us a great deal less than meets the eye

I think you/Ebert raise an interesting point. Many people do seem to love to hate "Heaven's Gate". Then again one could argue that Visconti perhaps got away with it on occasion... (I do love Visconti's work though).

I personally find the whole Cimino story depressing. Without even focusing on what Cimino must have gone through personally, we as viewers were robbed of a very talented visual stylist. As bizarre as it sounds, such people are quite rare breeds in the world of cinema.

There were some moments in Heaven's Gate, as with The Revenant, that are really impressive. The one I remember most, though I only mentioned it in passing, was the Regulators murdering the immigrant late in the movie. There's a long shot of the immigrant cowering before the first gunfighter where the light shifts in and out of shadow several times within the same shot. I don't know if that was natural lighting or a Cimino/Zsigmond trick, but it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen in any movie.

I think I am a sucker for such things.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 21, 2016, 10:41:20 PM
I think THE DEER HUNTER is a great great movie.

I haven't seen any of Cimino's stuff other than THE DEER HUNTER and HEAVEN'S GATE ... Anything worthwhile?


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: stanton on March 22, 2016, 03:33:50 AM
IMO, there is an important point about epics in general that is relevant here (even though I liked this movie more than most of you): if you are going to be big and long and have beautiful cinematography and all these wonderful set pieces etc, you better be a great movie. It feels kinda a letdown when these components don't add up to a great movie. E.g. When there is wonderful cinematography and all that, but the movie overall does not live up to that level, your feeling of the movie is, in a sense, hurt by the great cinematography.

In this case, it's like the viewer feeling, "Hey Cimino, great cinematography and production design, and you wasted it on THIS? I can't get more excited for a technical bit than I am for the whole movie."


In that regard, sometimes, if you are not gonna be a great movie, better to make a tight little movie with no show-off technical stuff.

I recall Ebert writing about RYAN's DAUGHTER (which I liked a lot, but he didn't) that the story did not seem important enough for all of Lean's amazing camerawork - the Troubles in Ireland weren't important enough to Ebert to warrant these big emotional shots of the constellations turning or whatever. I totally disagree with him on RYAN's DAUGHTER, but I get his point.

When an epic is amazing and has everthing - like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA - it is an incredible experience. But if it falls short, the great components can hurt it.

I recently had a similar experience with THE REVENANT. Some great set pieces and spectacular shots etc., but when I saw them, I said, "for what?" You almost need to make a great movie in order to "justify" having great components.

Yeah, only that not all people view these films the way you do. Other people don't have a "for what" issue with these films and I know people who think that both are true masterpieces, and for me Lawrence has his share of flaws too, has not everything, and is a kinda overrated film. Like Heaven's Gate it has a lot of stunning stuff, but also some structural problems.

And then, what's the idea about the great components? That directors know before making a film that it becomes a great one or not?

And this "realism" question, it doesn't make sense to give a general answer to this. It depends on every single film if there is too much realism or too less. nd there is maybe a film for which it is important that we really have to know the blood-type of the horses, while in others it would be a needless distraction to know the origin of the hero.

Ohh, and I probably prefer Ryan's Daughter to Lawrence.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: stanton on March 22, 2016, 03:54:19 AM
I think THE DEER HUNTER is a great great movie.

I haven't seen any of Cimino's stuff other than THE DEER HUNTER and HEAVEN'S GATE ... Anything worthwhile?

If you already despise Heaven's Gate, no.
Cimino got somehow worse with every further film. But Year of the Dragon is another one which Cimino admires hold in high regard. I give it a 7,5, but 2 films later he came with The Desperate Hours already close to a disaster.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 22, 2016, 08:01:40 AM
If you already despise Heaven's Gate, no.
Cimino got somehow worse with every further film. But Year of the Dragon is another one which Cimino admires hold in high regard. I give it a 7,5, but 2 films later he came with The Desperate Hours already close to a disaster.

I do not despise HEAVEN'S GATE at all. I was making a general point about epics, cuz lotsa people here were praising the cinematography but did not like the movie.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on March 22, 2016, 08:04:56 AM


And then, what's the idea about the great components? That directors know before making a film that it becomes a great one or not?


I am not saying filmmakers should not make beautiful cinematography if the movie won't be great. Of course they can't know beforehand if the movie will be great or not. I am saying that after the fact, when you are watching the movie, if an epic isn't great, it can feel like a whole lotta nothing.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: noodles_leone on March 22, 2016, 08:22:12 AM
Yep, you should definitely watch Year of the Dragon. It's a very different kind of film.


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: Groggy on March 22, 2016, 04:36:44 PM
I haven't seen any of Cimino's stuff other than THE DEER HUNTER and HEAVEN'S GATE ... Anything worthwhile?

You haven't seen Thunderbolt and Lightfoot? Man, don't let Jinkies find out. :o


Title: Re: Heaven's Gate (1980)
Post by: cigar joe on March 22, 2016, 05:19:57 PM
You haven't seen Thunderbolt and Lightfoot? Man, don't let Jinkies find out. :o

Agree that one is a no brainer.