IMDb > Heaven's Gate (1980) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
Heaven's Gate
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guide
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Reviews & Ratings for
Heaven's Gate More at IMDbPro »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 20:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
Index 196 reviews in total 

162 out of 223 people found the following review useful:

THE CENTURY'S MOST UNDERRATED FILM

10/10
Author: travis-46 from USA
13 September 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw Heaven's Gate on its opening week nearly twenty years ago. Tickets were sold in advance based on the great anticipation of seeing Cimino's long in the making follow up to his 1978 masterpiece "The Deerhunter." The reviews came in and critics trashed the film with vehemence. An influential New York film critic led the way and most critics followed suit, and the 3hr. 40-min. film was pulled from distribution. United Artists had Cimino shorten the film by about an hour and it was re-released many months later to equally horrible reviews and to dismal business. The film at that time cost about 40 million dollars (now considered low budget) making it one of the most expensive in history and Cimino had free rein on the project with endless retakes despite it being only his third film. "The Deerhunter" had also received a negative backlash based on a perceived political ideology, which was not popular. I mention all this to present a possible bias building up against Cimino. At the time I thought the film was very good and when I saw the shorter version it was still very good only less so. The film showed up again in a museum in the early 1990's. They were supposed to show the long version but they could not find an existing print. Nevertheless, seeing the film years later I now thought Heaven's Gate was a masterpiece. Finally, the long version started to appear in a few select cities, I got to see it recently and it was well worth the wait. Heaven's Gate begins with the graduation ceremony at Harvard University. Two of the graduates are Kris Kristofferson and John Hurt and we some of the flaws in their characters early on. Despite the mandate Joseph Cotton gives in his speech to the graduating class to use their education to enlighten and improve their country, many of the graduates behave as if they are part of an elite country club. The film flashes ahead 20 years to Johnson County in Wyoming. A cattle company called "the Stockholders Association" has hired poor people to shoot 125 poor immigrants claiming they are cattle thieves. Kristofferson sides with the immigrants while John Hurt is part of the Association. Although Hurt is totally against this insane action he is too ineffectual a character to do anything about it. A massacre takes place but the immigrants do well in defending themselves. A United States Cavalry comes to the rescue of the Association to allegedly arrest them after most of the damage has been done when in fact they sanctioned the mass killing. Kristofferson also suffers a great personal loss and the film ends with him years later as part of the elite class of his Harvard days married, bored, on a yacht, living but dead on the inside.

This is a very complex film which is brilliant in every department such as it's themes, structure, direction, cinematography, writing, music, editing, set designs, and acting. Kristofferson, Walken, Hurt, Huppert, Dourif, Bridges, Waterston, and Cotton are all excellent portraying very complex characters. Some of the major complaints I read about this film state that is ugly to look at, incoherent, too long, that the characters make no sense and that the words are often unintelligible. In its defense, Heaven's Gate has the look of photographs of that period just as "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" did. Some of the scenes are smoky looking to suggest the industrial revolution or sometimes horses, wagons, people are passing by from all sides creating a sense of reality.(The critic who called it one of the ugliest movies ever made likes to use his thumbs a lot.) But in spite of all that, the composition of each frame and the cinematography are impeccable. The film makes a great deal of sense if you pay attention to it. Everything is not spelled out for the viewer and one has to observe closely to understand the motivations of the characters or its themes. As to its length, it is a beautifully structured piece, at times moving, poetic, exhilarating, or devastating with virtually one great scene following another. At times some of the words are unintelligible especially in some of the scenes bustling with activity. But one could understand such a cinematic film as this through its use of film language, the glances between characters or their actions. One day soon this film should be re-released in its full length so that people and critics could give it a second chance. Do not let Michael Cimino become another Orson Welles- under appreciated in his lifetime and not able to make the kinds of great films he is capable of making.

Was the above review useful to you?

156 out of 241 people found the following review useful:

Lost Greatness

9/10
Author: wahe from Lithgow, Australia
25 September 2004

'Heaven's Gate' is not a masterpiece, which apparently was what it needed to be upon first release to justify its great cost, and, more importantly, the continued uneasy reliance of Hollywood on the Auteur model of film-making. Yet 'Heaven's Gate', seen today at last on DVD in a cut of 229 minutes, is a superb film. It is a touch lethargic in pace. But at least it is paced. Quite apart from the incompetence of construction that marks many films today, there have been many films which, deliberate in form, have been severely damaged by being hacked down with no care for rhythm so the films become shapeless and confusing. Beyond this, the criticisms leveled at the film have become in retrospect quite lame. If the good guys and bad guys are too obviously pronounced for a serious film, and yes Sam Waterston's mustachioed, fur-clad villain is comic-opera (and not in the multi-leveled manner of Bill The Butcher from 'Gangs of New York'), and yes, the townsfolk do seem a touch 'Fiddler On The Roof' on occasions, then a few dozen serious films made since then, including 'Titanic' and the graceless 'Cold Mountain' (which bears certain similarities and is a notable failure in convincing qualities compared to this film) can be castigated for exactly the same reason.

Also despite accusations, the film has a plot, quite a well-essayed plot at that. It simply does not bow to standard-form 'epic' quality, by providing Titan heroes, rafts of sub-plots and confusion. It experiments with telling in a manner more like much smaller, modest films, by carefully-caught moments of character interaction, and well-textured pageant-like explosions of communal action, as with the opening at Harvard and, most specially, the wonderful scene where the Johnson County folk, following the lead of a brilliantly physical fiddler, make celebration on roller-skates.

'The Deer Hunter' was a critical and commercial success but abandoned the first half's inspired, mosaic-like accumulation of detail, and I think in a manner similar to criticism of Robert Penn Warren's novel 'All The King's Men' and its dictionary of Jacobean stunts, if Cimino had not had such a strong grasp of the conventions of Hollywood epics, he might have made a special rare work of art based in honest visualisation of people within their milieu. In contrast, 'Heaven's Gate' succeeds in screwing its narrative momentum and tension upwards in a slowly expanding arc, until the finale explodes, whilst not abandoning the mosaic approach.

The central romantic triangle, for instance, resists standard inflections; a decent, intelligent, but psychically defeated man, James Averill (Kris Kristofferson) competes with a hot-shot but identity-challenged young gunman Nate Champion (Christopher Walken) for the hand of a young Madame, Ella Watson (Isabelle Huppert); there is no self-conscious bed-hopping, no slaps in the face, recriminations, or typical sad-sack moments, but more a sad and distanced decision by Ella to choose the younger man whom she loves less because he is ready to make the commitment. Ella emerges as the film's true hero (Huppert's performance, though initially awkward, is really quite excellent, balancing a dewy emotionalism with a hard-hammered spirit), attempting first to rescue Nate and then mustering the resistance party of immigrants into an enterprising defence. Subsequently, Averill is stung into action as friends die. Indeed, in the process of overcoming so many traps of cliché and style, 'Heaven's Gate' successfully and willfully throws off the defeated outsider-heroes grace note of so many '70s Westerns and portrays an eventual, vigorous, cheer-the-heroes rallying to a compromised but still relished victory.

The social conflict of so many '70s Westerns at last hardens into a fully-fledged war; where capital attempts a crushing final victory over the miscreants who stand in their way, suddenly they find a massed and more-powerful people's army, led by the man who played the thoroughly-destroyed Billy the Kid a decade before. This is what led the film to be described as the first Marxist Western, but really it simply deflowers a theme of the genre extant well before the '60s. Such various and classic old-school works as William Wyler's 'The Westerner', and even 'Shane', tell awfully similar stories. It is simply here that the romantic myth of the gunslinger has been replaced by the romantic myth of the people's revolt. In a spectacular, exiting, but realistic and thus chaotic finale, the marauding Cattlemen's encampment is attacked, ringed by dust clouds punctuated by fallen horses, writhing bodies, and gunfire. Averill puts his classical education to work finally by stealing a Roman trick and bringing the Cattlemen to the brink of annihilation before they are rescued by the Cavalry (another distinctly seditious touch, but surely not so offensive after 'Little Big Man's unrelenting depiction of Native American massacres). Really, it's hard to think of a more heroically American vision of grassroots resistance. The film's only real dead spot stands as an unnecessary coda indicating Averill's eventual relapse, a rather potted piece of tragedy.

Despite then certain failings and a slow mid-section, 'Heaven's Gate' is a supreme piece of work, a genuine attempt to create a contemporary Western and a new kind of epic. If one has to still join the chorus that reckons Cimino was absurd in his behaviour on set and expenditure, it is regretfully. When, today, flops like 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash' and 'K-19 - The Widowmaker' see nearly a hundred million dollars sink down the drain, and yet a tag of infamy still hangs on this film, one ponders what exactly its grim death signified. The attempt at original style, the bawdy sexuality, the very hard-won sense of detail, the breathtaking rigor of the film-making and what is being filmed, all throw into contrast what is sorely lacking in so much contemporary Hollywood product.

Was the above review useful to you?

98 out of 144 people found the following review useful:

don´t knock it til you have tried it

8/10
Author: Jan Hrubin from Prague, Czech Republic
24 February 2001

I seriously don´t know why this movie got such a hostile reception when it was first released. Sure, it´s overlong and somewhat gratuitous in its depictions of sexuality and violence but so are lots of well regarded movies. I seriously don´t think that the people who hated "Heaven´s Gate" really understood it. "Heaven´s Gate" in its uncut form, much like "The Deer Hunter" shows the gross differences of living an insecure and dangerous life (like the immigrants and Averil in Wyoming) and living in comfort and privilege (like the settled "Americans" in Wyoming and Averil in the prologue and epilogue). Living a hard life is painful but it can also be invigorating as opposed to the dull life Averil leads in the epilogue. Also, as Michael Cimino took great pains to make the picture historically accurate , it is fascinating as a document of (and maybe indictment of) American life in Old West Wyoming. The dialogue is often genuinely clever and emotional. Combined with great music and cinematography, the movie works like a truly poetic work of art. Granted, "Heaven´s Gate", with its refusal to patronize the viewer, is not for all tastes. However, Hollywood turns out so much commercial dreck each year which is so much easier to dismiss as mindless eye candy (even when an example of it becomes a blockbuster) that "Gate" and Cimino really do deserve more respect. All people should see the uncut version at least once and then they should make up their own mind.

Was the above review useful to you?

98 out of 145 people found the following review useful:

As the good book says, many are called but few are chosen... and most are damned.

9/10
Author: Roger Burke from Brisbane, Australia
21 January 2007

I first saw this film when released in 1980. From other sources, I've learnt that the only release of the 219-minute cut was in New York City, after which it was severely cut to 149 minutes. So, I guess I saw the shorter version first which, at the time, I thought, was a very interesting anti-Western, if a trifle confusing...

So, it was with even more interest that I finally obtained a DVD of the full-length version. I'm glad I did because this second viewing has confirmed for me that the movie is a true classic, and the critical vitriol poured on Michael Cimino was unwarranted, to say the very least.

Yes, it's a long movie, but so have been many others. For example: Once upon a time in America (1984) at 227 minutes; Cleopatra (1963) at 320 minutes; The Ten Commandments (1956) at 220 minutes; Spartacus {restored version} (1960) at 198 minutes; Gone with the Wind (1939) at 222 minutes and others. So, it can't be the fact of running time that made so many froth at the mouth way back, when Heaven's Gate came on the scene.

But note this: all of those above movies have everything to do with reinforcing myths about history and heroes.

Not so Heaven's Gate: in this narrative, the American West is shown in all its grim and unrelenting harshness, injustice, and poverty. And that's probably the first reason why so many disliked this film: it laid out the circumstances of the Johnson County War of 1892 in Wyoming, showing how the Wyoming Stock Growers Association hired 50 assassins to hunt down and murder a large group of European immigrants accused of cattle rustling; and all with the assistance and conniving of authorities, right up to the President of the United States. For an essay on that war, with the background and what happened, there is a link at Wikipedia under Johnson County War.

Very few like to be reminded of the really dirty periods in their country's history, and which fly in the face of what the country is supposed to be. Had it been a documentary, it would have been barely palatable for most; as entertainment, it was almost bound to fail commercially and be torn to shreds by the shrill and infamous.

Leaving aside the socio-political diatribe, for a moment, that Cimino launched herein, what about the narrative – the story of the three main characters? Well, it probably wasn't unusual for men of that time to fall for a local prostitute, just as it's probably not unusual now. It's a fairly standard love triangle whereby Ella must choose between the two men, and ultimately decides upon the younger man, Nathan, who, although not above resorting to cold-blooded murder when it suits him, shows more spirit and commitment than the older James (or Jim, as most people in the film say). For some, that part of the story threads too slowly, perhaps; in the context of the wider narrative about the war, however, it is, I think, entirely appropriate.

And that war is depicted graphically, viciously and cruelly with scenes of carnage that are exquisitely staged and edited flawlessly – although in the final massacre between the Association and the immigrants, I'm certain that some scenes of wagons blowing apart are repeated. A minor point and perhaps brought about when the 219-minute cut was restored? Any way you look at it, though, it hits you in the face with the noise, dust, chaos and confusion of war...

Which brings me to another criticism by others: the noise and dust is such that it's often difficult to hear the dialog and even see clearly what is happening. I'll admit that I found that to be a trifle annoying at first, even backtracking to replay parts to try to catch the image or the words – until I realized that really wasn't necessary if you accept the director's intent: life is chaotic, it is difficult to hear and see in crowded situations and, in war, it's the sine qua non of this mise-en-scene. In short, it's as though you truly are present in and within the scenes...

And what of the title? From Shakespeare, it refers to a figurative nearness to God and so, if you equate God with the natural world, the stunning scenery that pervades the movie – and it is stunning, hauntingly equal to that of David Lean's Doctor Zhivago (1965) – is a useful metaphor. I tend to think, however, that Cimino had something more to say, namely the idea that the brave immigrants – the God-fearing salt of the earth – were denied entry to heaven on earth and the freedom to build a life for themselves in the land that espouses to be freedom's champion.

Was that Cimino's intent – to gut the myth of the American West? To show how, in America, only the rich get rich while the poor are massacred, one way or another, throughout history? Is that anything new? Not really, as we all know. Where it really hurt, however, is in showing how America was not and, by implication, is not the land of the free and the home of the brave. Instead, after absorbing this narrative, we are left with an impression that the underpinnings of America have more to do with a land of dispossessed slaves and a home for knaves...

Was the above review useful to you?

111 out of 184 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece - I Thought There Were Only Three Of Us

9/10
Author: Jack Landman from San Antonio, TX
15 March 2004

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.

Was the above review useful to you?

111 out of 190 people found the following review useful:

A wasted opportunity.

Author: Pinback-4 from Stockton, California
8 August 1999

HEAVEN'S GATE will always be remembered for at least three things: destroying United Artists, wrecking director Michael Cimino's career, and ending the last golden age of Hollywood, when the directors could make the types of films they wanted to make. To this day we are still living through the effects from HEAVEN'S GATE. Although the film was made for only $36 million, back in 1980 that was a fortune. Many films since have lost more money, but this one wrecked a respected studio. There is no question as to where all the money went, for it is on the screen to see. Everything was carefully detailed exquisitely down the extras' clothing. An entire town was built in a remote area of Montana. The film opens with a graduation sequence that takes place at Harvard in 1870, which is nicely shot and choreographed, but is completely unnecessary. Many such scenes are scattered throughout, and the film is more than halfway over before the plot finally starts to move forward. The actors all play characters who are one-dimensional and/or irrelevant, especially the John Hurt character. Why Cimino needed so many extras to play the immigrants is unclear, because we never get to know any of them and they are so annoying when they gather together to plot strategies against the rich bad guys who want to kill them off. The editing is pretty bad, but that's to be expected because there really isn't much of a story here, just a series of vignettes. Vilmos Zsigmond's photography is good, but too often there is too much dust and smoke everywhere that obscures the characters and locations. Also, the colors in the film are all washed out; it looks like the filmstock was left out in sun. For example, in the middle of the roller-skating scene, the color simply vanishes, leaving only light brown and black! Granted, there are a few things in the film that I admire, like David Mansfield's score. Isabelle Huppert always looks sexy even without makeup. The battle scenes are pretty exciting, although I could swear that I saw one particular wagon blow up four times. The film has a rather odd denoument that takes place on board a ship, but everything else in this movie is pretty odd. Why the studio didn't bring in another writer or two to rewrite the script is a mystery because inside this mess there was a good movie trying to get out. It's a shame that Michael Cimino still hasn't recovered from this debacle. I sure hope he makes a comeback.

Was the above review useful to you?

54 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Curate's Egg of a movie

7/10
Author: jackstowaway from Australia
28 January 2005

I've been a fan of Heaven's Gate since its first release. I've seen it at least half-a-dozen times and have long thought of it as a masterpiece. So, it was with excitement and a sense of anticipation that I took myself off to see the restored director's cut.

To my surprise, I was disappointed on seeing it again and have since revised my estimation of the film. Heaven's Gate touches upon greatness in parts, but overall, lacks the thematic and narrative consistency and the passionate urgency characteristic of a truly great film.

Firstly, two technical problems: The sound quality is diffuse throughout the film, verging on inaudibility at times. Some of this, perhaps, is intentional - a way to mimic the chaos and confusion of history as it is unfolding. But at key points, one is unable to register what it is the characters are saying.

The cinematography is similarly diffuse. The images lack sharpness and particularity of detail. The result is a certain graininess and lack of pictorial sharpness which succeeds in blurring foreground and background.

Structurally, the narrative is off-key throughout, as if Cimino can't quite make up his mind as to the effect he is after. He wanted an epic, for sure. But a pastoral or dramatic epic? The film sits uneasily and unconvincingly between styles, and perhaps even genres. At times it reminded me of Terrence Malick's 'Days of Heaven' or even 'Elvira Madigan' in its languid pace and elegant scene painting. At other times it threatens to turn into a robust 'western' more akin to 'The Wild Bunch'. In fact the latter film offers an instructive reference point for an assessment of 'Heaven's Gate' as it shares the same period concern and employs a similar tone of ambivalent nostalgia for a darker yet more heroic America.

This structural and thematic uncertainty isn't helped by the poor-quality script which often sounds forced and jarring to the ear. The result is an inauthentic sense of period speech.

The near-greatness of Heaven's Gate resides in its set pieces. The roller skating sequence, in particular, is astoundingly beautiful, one of the most evocative scenes ever put to film.

Another set piece which works very well in terms of unifying theme, mood, and setting occurs when Kristofferson and Huppert go riding in the new rig to the lake and she washes herself while he naps in the shade. The languid pacing, evocative music and monumental scenery combine in this scene to convincingly portray the love story which might just lie at the heart of the film - and which could have been its saving grace if pursued more convincingly.

Some critics have complained about the length of the film. This in itself doesn't bother me. A good film can't be long enough. The restored minutes are critical in restoring the motivation and characterization absent from the cut version, and they are full of pictorial interest.

Perhaps the chief glory of Heaven's Gate lies in the achingly evocative soundtrack. The repeated waltz motif and its different scorings throughout(full band, guitar, solo fiddle etc,)lends a haunting quality to the foreground action and establishes a thematic consistency lacking in the narrative itself.

Despite its obvious flaws, most notably the absence of a compelling narrative, there is a sense of grandeur about the film. One leaves the cinema with a rueful sense of missed greatness and a wish that Cimino could revisit the film -with the wisdom of time and hindsight, to put right what is so badly amiss.

Was the above review useful to you?

69 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

Noble effort...but a dusty mess.

Author: JohnIL
6 December 2001

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.

Was the above review useful to you?

70 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

What did Hollywood have against Heaven?

9/10
Author: Bruce Hammond (lswote) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
4 November 2000

I was expecting this movie to be a stinker but I wanted to see for myself, but I was surprised how good of a movie this was. I know longer movies often don't do well at the box office but why this was pulled and not allowed to be viewed by the public is beyond me. It maintained my interest throughout and the scenery and photography is breathtaking at times. The plot was good and the morality play was a good one. I liked the realism which was along the lines of "Unforgiven". I had to rent this movie to see it but it was definitely worth it.

Was the above review useful to you?

36 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

If Cecil B. DeMille made art films...

5/10
Author: porbeagle_zen from Chapel Hill NC
19 April 2007

...they'd probably be better than this.

Towards the end of "Heaven's Gate", it dawned upon me that Michael Ciminio has no idea what his movie is about. Is it an epic adventure, a revisionist western, a character study, a snapshot of a historical period, a love story, a dramatic expose of corruption, an artful meditation on humanity? Cimino has no idea. He tries to make "Heaven's Gate" into all of these things, more or less failing.

It's not as if he was concerned about the damage this incoherence would do to the plot, characters, pacing, etc. The bottom line is SPECTACLE. The audience is supposed to be overwhelmed; by the epic subtext, cast of thousands, artistic lighting, the sheer money apparent on the screen. But any self-respecting viewer will tell you that being overwhelmed is not the same as being entertained.

Every scene presents a bare minimum of information to tell the story: There's a guy. We saw him before, I think. Now he's on a train. Now he's talking to somebody. Now he's mad. And so on. We get the gist of what's going on, with little clue why or how. Not that we care anyway, the characters are all constructed as supporting players to spectacle.

To make matters worse, every shot, scene, sequence, and subplot is about four times too long. There is one exception: the roller skating scene, filled with such energy and cinematic prowess that it seems tacked on from another picture. That alone was worth the price of admission. Almost.

Cimino has a relatively unimaginative style of direction, which appears standard on prime time TV. Yet Ciminio constantly gets lost in "fetishes", which apparently are dust, trains and horses. Dust is everywhere. Everywhere. Indoors, outdoors, in the middle of grassy fields. Sometimes there's so much dust you can't even see what's going on. Whenever a train appears, we are treated to beautiful, laborious shots that clog up the storyline. There are apparently less people in Johnson County than horses, who repeatedly hog the foreground. Even in the battle sequences. In fact, the dramatic scene at the end of Part I consists of horses riding off a train, obscured by dust. I'm serious.

This would be a film forgotten by time if it weren't for the titanic production misadventure that bankrupted an established movie studio, bringing the New Hollywood era down with it. Of course, "JAWS" and "Star Wars" are guilty too, but only in the best possible ways.

But "Heaven's Gate" is a sheer mess. Not a disaster, or an ostracized masterpiece. An unguided, absolute, sheer mess. Like T.S. Elliot, "This is the way the world ends/not with a bang but a whimper." It would feel a lot better if the age of the auteur that included "The Graduate", "Bonnie and Clyde", "2001", "The Godfather", "Taxi Driver", and "Apocalypse Now" had ended with a spectacular bomb.

But no. "Heaven's Gate" is Hollywood's whimper.

Was the above review useful to you?


Page 1 of 20:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]

Add another review


Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Ratings
Awards External reviews Parents Guide
Plot keywords Main details Your user reviews
Your vote history