Film Review: Heaven’s Gate (1980): Death by 229 cuts.

4 Jun


After the stunning success of the Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino’s next film was a catastrophe. Heaven’s Gate ran over budget, over time and was plagued by negative press, culminating in the eventual collapse of United Artists and forged Cimino’s reputation as an overbearing and out of control director.

The first cut Cimino handed in of Heaven’s Gate was well over five hours long. So he must have perceived the picture to be some sort of masterpiece. As Cimino believed the film was worthy of spending the modern equivalent of $120 million and bankrupting United Artists, I will review Heaven’s Gate with all the respect and reverence Cimino would have wanted.

I’m going to review each individual minute of Heaven’s Gate, so I can fully understand and convey the artistry that must have gone into this enormous film. The DVD running time of Heaven’s Gate is 229 minutes, (just under four hours). So I have my work cut out for me, but it’s still going to be easier than my original plan of reviewing it frame by frame.

So here it is – Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, minute by minute.

1 of 229

The opening credits (so far) are beautiful in their simplicity. Cimino has opted for classic and dramatic white letters on a black background. The font is reasonable and the director has resisted the temptation to use Sanskrit or the Cyrillic alphabet, (though the latter would have been acceptable for a Russian release). You are immediately filled with anticipation. Will Christopher Walken feature in scenes that make creative use of a tarp? Will John Hurt balance atop something cylindrical? One can only guess. But as soon as Kris Kristofferson’s name appears and is spelled accurately, you know you’re in good hands.


2 Responses to “Film Review: Heaven’s Gate (1980): Death by 229 cuts.”

  1. berty kidd June 5, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Is this out on blue ray?

  2. Ronan Macewan June 7, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    wouldn’t fit on the disc

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