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Author Topic: Heaven's Gate (1980)  (Read 25062 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #90 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?  Grin

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« Reply #91 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.

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« Reply #92 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  Wink

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

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« Reply #93 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.


« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 09:57:13 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #94 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  Wink

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.

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« Reply #95 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?

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« Reply #96 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.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 03:40:01 AM by stanton » Logged

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« Reply #97 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.

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« Reply #98 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.

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« Reply #99 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.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 02:59:29 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #100 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.

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« Reply #101 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. Shocked

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« Reply #102 on: March 22, 2016, 05:19:57 PM »

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

Agree that one is a no brainer.

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