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An inside look at the hectic production of Heaven's Gate, the media circus that turned it into a synonym for movie flop and how it added to the tectonic change that occurred in Hollywood film studios after it infamously flopped.
In Michael Cimino's bleak anti-western based on events in 1890s Wyoming, Sheriff James Averill attempts to protect immigrant farmers from wealthy cattle interests, and also clashes with a hired gun, Nathan Champion, over the woman they both love. Both men find themselves questioning their roles in the furious conflict between wealthy landowners and European immigrants attempting to build new lives on the American frontier, which culminates in a brutal pitched battle. Written by
Bernard Keane <BKeane2@email.dot.gov.au>
I won't entirely pan this movie because I think it was a noble effort. It's basic story is good (based on fact), but it's a loooong haul in steerage. We've heard the stories regarding this movie...the bloated budget, (incidentally the 5 min scene on the yacht at the end supposedly cost 1 million to shoot???) the expensive set that was torn down because of an imperfection, it's infamous New York opening. But as far as the film itself......
It's hard to imagine that a 3hr 40min movie could not generate any memorable characters, but thats what they've done here. There is no one to relate to, everybody seems to have had a lobotomy and is just mouthing their dialogue as if they could care less, which is odd because this film has great actors in it!
The story takes forever to unfold. By the time it really gets going it seems too late. Literally nothing happens in the first 90 minutes! the film feels longer than it actually is and I've heard that originally it was meant to be released at over 5 hours.
Another major problem... and I think Roger Ebert said it the best. "This film opens at Harvard..continues in Wyoming and closes aboard a ship, yet there is a grim industrial pall that hangs low over everything. The film is so foggy, so smoky, so unfocused and so brownish yellow, that you feel like you want to wipe windex on the screen. A director's in very deep trouble when we don't even enjoy the primary act of looking at his movie."
I personally think that Michael Cimino is very talented. Trouble is, thanks to this film and the financial disaster that it became, he has been somewhat branded, and was never really given much control of his projects since (so I've heard). It seems too bad as I think he could have made some great American films.
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