When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse ... See full summary »
A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the ... See full summary »
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, Ella Watson. 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>
The work-print, the first edit of the film that includes all the footage shot, was 5 hours and 25 minutes long. This has created a rumor that a long-lost 5 and a half hour director's cut exists somewhere. It doesn't; every movie begins the editing process with a work-print, then gets edited down to the intended film. The 216 minute version is Cimino's definite director's cut of the film. See more »
The opening scenes and epilogue are supposed to take place at Harvard, but were shot in Oxford, England. Oxford's buildings are built in a variety of architectural styles, while Harvard buildings are solely Georgian. See more »
The director spent a lot of time making the scenes look real right down to the historical photos and all the sounds of the old west bustle. Too bad the Producers and Writer/Director, Michael Cimino, spent zero time on any of the historical facts of what the Johnson County war was really about. A lot of the war was over how public lands should be used for grazing. The cattlemen didn't want the poor sheep herders on the land to compete for forage on this cold, windswept plateau. The entire epic makes no mention of grazing sheep which was one of the most important reasons for the war.
The worst scene is the battle between the peasants and the hired killers. The peasants are shown circling the gunmen like a bunch of Indians would do in much earlier Hollywood movies. The true fact is that Johnson County Sheriff William (Red) Angus, with a posse of 200 to 300 men, intercepted the gunmen and trapped them in a barn at the TA ranch. I doubt any women took part in the siege.
Ellen (Ella also known as Cattle Kate) Watson and her second husband, James Averell, were hanged by a lynch mob about three years before the Johnson County invasion. Ella was never a prostitute. This was a canard spread by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) in order to discredit her. The fact that the plot makes her out to be a brothel madam only serves the interests of the WSGA.
I object to the use of names of real people in a plot that is so obviously fiction. There is no fact in the events, time lines, or backgrounds of the characters. Why Michael Cimino would use real names of people who were loosely connected with the Johnson County war (and events leading up to it) is beyond me.
The movie could have been much more interesting if it had dwelt on the political ramifications of the Federal Government intervention in a State Government's affairs and what happened after the WSGA gunmen were saved by the Calvary. Some effort was made to prosecute the Cattlemen who were responsible by the Johnson County attorney. But since Johnson county could not afford the court costs and the Governor of Wyoming, Amos W. Barber, backed the WSGA, the charges were eventually dropped.
Overall I think the movie was just an excuse to show Isabelle Huppert naked for much of the three and 3/4 hours of running time on the DVD version.
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