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Author Topic: Heaven's Gate (1980)  (Read 25859 times)
KevinJCBJK
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« Reply #30 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.

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« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2007, 10:58:42 AM »

Or an editer.

The editing wasn't that bad.



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« Reply #32 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. Wink

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« Reply #33 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.

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KevinJCBJK
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« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2007, 06:56:31 PM »

I haven't seen the movie but I heard it's full of unessecary scenes.

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« Reply #35 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.

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KevinJCBJK
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« Reply #36 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.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #37 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?HuhHuh.  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.

« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 04:49:50 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #38 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.


« Last Edit: July 03, 2008, 07:24:41 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #39 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:

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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.

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« Reply #40 on: July 03, 2008, 03:11:49 PM »

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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.

« Last Edit: July 04, 2008, 05:33:52 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #41 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.

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« Reply #42 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  Evil, a town sequence or two with Glacier Park and that's about it.

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« Reply #43 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. Cheesy

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. Shocked

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« Reply #44 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:

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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.

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