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>
Willem Dafoe, in his feature film debut, appears briefly as a cockfighter. According to Dafoe, his role was supposed to be much larger, but during a long lighting set-up, Dafoe laughed out loud at a joke that an extra told him. Michael Cimino was so annoyed, that he fired Dafoe, and he is uncredited in the final film. He would later narrate the documentary of the making of this film, Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate (2004). See more »
The opening establishes the year as 1870. Harvard's Commencement Day for 1870 was Tuesday June 28. James Averill runs past a bulletin board advertising baseball games bearing the dates "Friday May 28", "Saturday May 15" and "Wednesday May 19". The day and date combination correspond to the year 1869. See more »
A Masterpiece - I Thought There Were Only Three Of Us
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.
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