Heaven's Gate (1980)

R  |   |  Western  |  19 November 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 9,161 users  
Reviews: 181 user | 101 critic

A dramatization of the real-life Johnson County War in 1890 Wyoming, in which a sheriff born into wealth attempts to protect immigrant farmers from rich cattle interests.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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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.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nathan D. Champion (as Chris Walken)
John L. Bridges
Major Wolcott
Mayor Charlie Lezak
Trapper Fred
Rosie Vela ...
Beautiful girl (as Roseanne Vela)
Mary Catherine Wright ...
Nell (as Mary C. Wright)
Small man


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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What one loves about life are the things that fade. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

19 November 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate  »

Box Office


$44,000,000 (estimated)


$1,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(1981 re-cut) | (original cut) | (2012 director's recut) | (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The production shoot for this picture ran for 165 days. See more »


The pool table over which James and Nathan had their defining discussion in the landowners' club, is a Brunswick Regina model, which was produced between 1922 and 1925 - over 30 years after when the scene was set. See more »


Frank Canton: Mr. Champion, my grandfather was the Secretary of War to Harrison. His brother was the governor of the state of New York. My brother-in-law is Secretary of State. And to you, I represent the full authority of the government of the United States and the President.
Nathan D. Champion: Fuck him too.
Billy Irvine: Bravo, sir!
See more »


The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Music by William Steffe
Played by the marching band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Masterpiece - I Thought There Were Only Three Of Us
15 March 2004 | by (San Antonio, TX) – See all my reviews

Until today, I thought there only three people, including me, who considered Heaven's Gate (1980)to be a masterpiece and perhaps the last great western, (since the 1970), after, Little Big Man (1970), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and The Long Riders (1980).

I was stunned and pleased to see that 22.5% of those voting at IMDB rate this movie a 10, as do I. A recent book, the Worst Movies of All Time, includes Heaven's Gate. Through it's production and release it was vilified, as no movie since Cleopatra, almost twenty years before. At one time it was considered the most expensive over-budget movie of all time, surpassing even Cleopatra. It was blamed for the downfall of its studio, United Artists, until everyone finally saw all the studios were falling. Michael Cimino, fresh from his glory with the Deer Hunter was hated and despised for his success and movie making excess, but clearly, that was petty jealousy at its worst.

Cimino ended up fashioning one of the great expositions of the American experience. This film is not to be missed but any serious student of American filmmaking.

93 of 156 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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